Becoming Donna Reed

Season 1: Episode 5 – The Football Uniform


The episode opens with Donna and Mary organizing items to be given away at a charity auction. Donna confesses to Mary that what she would most like to donate is a vase that sits in the foyer, but it was a wedding gift and Alex is very fond of it. Alex comes downstairs and Donna runs to the kitchen to check on cake she is baking. Alex confesses to Mary that what he would most like to donate is the same vase that sits in the foyer, but it was a wedding gift and Donna is very fond it. Mary is amused.

Jeff comes down with a toy rocket ship to donate. Alex and Donna express dismay that they had just purchased that for him two weeks ago. Jeff declares it wasn’t as much fun as he thought it would be. Alex and Donna realize they have been overindulging Jeff and vow to stop doing so.

Jeff goes out to practice football with some other boys. They lament the fact they don’t have uniforms. They all decide to ask their parents for uniforms. Jeff gives the boys a lesson on how to manipulate mothers to get what you want. This is an approach he has always found success with.

Jeff goes home and tries to sweet-talk Donna. She stands firm and tells him he can’t have every little thing he wants. Jeff changes tactics and tries to get the uniform from Alex. Alex tells Jeff he needs to start earning the things he wants.

Jeff begins to do odd jobs to earn the money he needs for the uniform, which costs $22. By week’s end Jeff has accumulated $2.50. One of his teammates comes by to show off his new uniform and share with Jeff the news that in a few days the local newspaper will be coming to photograph the team. Jeff realizes there is no way he can earn the money in that small window of time. Jeff is crestfallen.

Donna hates seeing Jeff defeated so she goes to Alex to see if they can amend their stance. Alex says they have to have Jeff earn the uniform. Donna calls the mother of an older boy who used to play on Jeff’s team and convinces her to donate her son’s old uniform to the charity auction. Jeff sees the uniform in the donation pile and gets very excited. Donna pulls him aside and tells him she is proud of the hard work he has been doing. She matches the money he has already earned so he will have more cash to bid with. She asks him not to tell Alex until she has had a chance to talk to him. Later, Alex gives Jeff the same speech, gives him matching funds, and requests he not immediately mention it to Donna.

At the auction the family is scattered around the room. They unknowingly begin bidding against one another and drive up the price of the uniform. Donna is eventually triumphant.

Back at home, Jeff models the uniform. In his enthusiasm he nearly knocks over the vase in the foyer. Donna and Alex both confess their feelings toward the vase and the vase is tagged for next years charity auction.


Flexibility is essential any relationship.


This was, in large part, an episode about parenting. However, since I am not a parent  I am not going to focus on that aspect of things. I certainly have opinions about childrearing, I have taught for a dozen years, but nothing irritates parents more than listening to non-parents talk about raising kids. I get it.

What I liked about this episode was how Donna and Alex were able focus on the main goal and make adjustments to accomplish the goal. Here the goal was teaching Jeff to value his possessions and the money and work it takes to acquire things. I believe that Jeff learned the lesson, but Donna and Alex had to adjust their game plan as the episode unfolded.

This lesson is one I have had a hard time with. I am a girl who likes a plan, and once that plan is established I tend to cling to it like a barnacle to a rock. Learning flexibility has been something I have really had to work on, I’ve gotten better but I still tend to cling to planned path when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

I suspect this need for flexibility is even more important in our generation than it was for previous generations. The days of owning one home and holding a single job seem a myth for my generation. I have always sort of idealized my parents relationship and the way the lived their lives. It’s taken me quite awhile realize that what worked for them might not be what works for us. They worked the careers they went to college for the duration of their careers. They  owned two homes in 37 years of marriage. They had their first home in Maine which they had for, I believe, seven years before buying the NH home they live in to this day. I think that makes it close to thirty years they have lived in that home. They love it and I know they will be there as long as possible.

Though I used my education degree for many years, our recent move has me re-examining my career options. I truly have no idea what I will be doing a year from now. My husband studied anthropology in college, he is now a programmer. In our twelve years of marriage my husband and I have owned two homes. Home number two is more than 3,000 miles away from where we are currently residing. It’s still ours, but now it is empty as we decide on which coast we will reside on for the forseeable future.

Before we sold our first home I had a really hard time with the idea of leaving it. I mean, that was our HOME. Home seemed, to me, a geographically specific concept. It was part of who we were. In contrast, the decision to move to San Francisco was actually easier. I had learned that home was not an address, but the thing you build with your partner or your family. It may be the same spot for fifty years or it may hop coasts and continents. Home should be a reflection of the people who inhabit it. With my husband, I think our true home is a spaceship. His boundless energy, creativity, and intelligence could take us anywhere.

I don’t mean to act like these big changes don’t still freak me out, they do. But I find it helps to focus on the WHY. We move and change because that is who we want to be. We want to people who welcome new challenges and embrace new opportunities. You can’t be adventuress if you are rigid, it just doesn’t work.

I am practicing flexibility. When I do yoga I try to breathe deep and let some of the physical flexibility seep in and become emotional flexibility. I still knot, I still cramp, but as I keep at it I see and feel improvement.

Namaste, Donna Reed.