That moment during ‘Waitress’ where I wanted to stand up and scream

Not the typical response during a Broadway musical, perhaps. Especially one built on the bubbly, emotional-fueled songs of Sara Bareilles. But, it wasn’t Sara’s fault that I felt compelled to stop the show and decry the scene unfolding on the stage.

If anyone needs to be blamed, then I will point a finger at the original book’s author, Jessie Nelson. Although I don’t like to blame others. It’s counter productive.¬† Instead, let me offer an open letter (are those still a thing??) to the writer about what bubbled up inside me at the pivotal scene in the musical:

Dear Jessie,

Former NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano said: “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”

Adopting that approach to evaluating a day, I can proudly share that I had a heck of a day yesterday thanks to seeing the traveling production of Waitress. However, I also experienced a level of frustration that left a stain on my memory of the show. It has to do with this:


Jenna is a woman who has clearly endured years of pain and suffering due to an abusive relationship. She is a dedicated friend and employee; she creates and shares willingly. She is not perfect; she perseveres yet doesn’t allow herself to achieve actual happiness.

But then she has her baby and EVERYTHING IS SUNSHINE AND ROSES. She has the courage to leave Earl and start her own business. She reclaims her self-worth and finds her entrepreneurial¬†chops. Obviously, she shares this newfound realization in a musical number dubbed ‘Everything Changes’ where Jenna sings:

“Today’s a day like any other
But I’m changed, I am a mother
Oh, in an instant
And who I was has disappeared
It doesn’t matter, now you’re here
So innocent
I was lost
For you to find
And now I’m yours, and you are mine.”

I do not doubt that such a moment could have such a profound impact on someone’s perspective and life. Yet, as an audience member struggling with infertility, it felt like a reinforcement that achieving motherhood is the ultimate quest. My life remains in gray until that moment of bringing a life into this world. If my life was a mess prior to this moment, then it will be magically scrubbed anew.¬†

If that is the measuring stick we’re using for women like Jenna, that such troubled lives can be turned around completely after taking on the role of mom, what does that mean for those of us who cannot — or don’t want to — take that journey? It reminds me of my former high school students, many of whom actively sought getting pregnant in order to create something to love — and something to love them — in their lives.¬†

While I applaud Jenna’s metamorphosis, I do wish that it didn’t have to be fully centered on becoming a mother. Because that makes me feel sad, inadequate, and worried that I don’t ever fully realize my best self if I can’t become a mother. Will I be able to experience that type of love and empathy? Will I ever feel that overwhelming sense of joy that I have watched play out in film, TV, books, and now a musical?

I know you can’t answer my questions, Jessie. But thanks for listening.




  1. Oh my, I believe I would have reacted much the same. External forces and social norms always have a way of making us feel less than adequate ‚Äď pile on infertility and you’ve now added another layer of complexity to the situation. The measure of a woman is not whether or not she can reproduce. Trust me when I say… no matter if you bring life into this world or not, YOU ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH. You are a beautiful, strong, kind and generous person who has so much love to offer. Keep sharing your light. Sending positive vibes and a gigantic hug your way.


    1. Thanks Michelle. And, as we discussed today, bringing “life” into this world can take on very different forms. We can give life to others through our talents, skills, and willingness to be vulnerable. You have already brought so much into my life, and I know there is more on the way ‚̧


  2. Wow, I didn’t feel the movie took that path – I felt it focused much more on her career and the pie contest. Now I want to watch it again with a more critical eye. I would not have liked that message. Even though I am a parent, I feel it’s an integrated part of my life and not a singularity.


    1. So sorry it has taken me nearly a month to respond! So, this wasn’t the movie but the Broadway production on tour. I actually haven’t seen the movie nor read the book. I should go watch the film to see how much the play diverges in the story (and underscores that motherhood is somehow THE answer to solving life problems). I appreciate you taking the time to share! ‚̧


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