Back when I was barreling my way through ages 10, 11, and 12, there was no catchy title like ‘tween’ to define the eccentricities of the age. Instead, the age was referred to as difficult. Or peevish. Or snarly. So it was that I found my snarly, peevish self in Blockbuster to pick out a movie to pass the lazy days of summer. I had a standard fare that I enjoyed, so I was on my way over to pick out another of those when my mother held up a VHS case and said, “Let’s try this.”
Preemptively curling up my nose before even turning around, I saw that she was holding the 1969 classic, Hello Dolly. “I’m not watching that,” I declared and turned on my heels. My mother, being shrewd and impervious to my snarliness checked out the movie anyway. Without so much as a word of cajoling, she popped it into the VCR (have I dated myself yet) and within minutes, I was sitting starry eyed and enraptured. The costumes. The dancing. The glorious music. I was hooked.
If you haven’t seen the movie, let me give you a little background. Dolly Levi is a matchmaker who has a talent for arranging the details of everyone’s life so that they are neatly tied into perfect little packages. She is consummate organizer and plan maker, seeing to the happiness of everyone but herself. Suddenly, she realizes that life is passing her by and that for life to be meaningful, she must be participating, not merely watching.
I had my very own Dolly Levi wake-up moment recently. After a morning of soccer and baseball games, we decided to spend the afternoon at a Civil War reenactment. We arrived at the campsite with about an hour to spare before the big battle. Costumed participants worked to immerse the guests in the history and lore of the Civil War. To the boys’ delight, a young soldier was conducting a demonstration of his Civil War era musket and invited us to fire the weapon for $1 each.
The boys scrambled into line, including my husband, who also wanted to take advantage of the rare opportunity. As they excitedly waited their turn, I instinctively stepped to the side, camera in hand, ready to capture the moment. “Aren’t you going to try,” my husband asked. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I might want to try. At first I shook my head, but with a simple prodding from my husband, I found my place in line and waited my turn. I watched each of my boys take a turn at the trigger, smiles beaming broadly on their faces as the smoke cleared. Last in line, it was my turn.
BAM! I pulled the trigger and felt the mass of the gun kick back into my shoulders as my ears instantly started ringing. It was exhilarating! And I had almost missed it. I silently wondered why. It wasn’t because I was afraid. I had fired dozens of guns before. (It’s Texas, ya’ll) And it wasn’t the cost. I spend more than a dollar on a simple beverage.
A decade of mom programming made it easy for me to step to the side. As soon as my first child was born, I began a lifelong metamorphosis that would find me willingly sacrificing every part of myself for my precious children. So complete is this transformation that moms willingly set aside their sleep, their cleanliness, and even their sanity without as much as a second thought. And while this is good and noble, there are times when it is not necessary. What I thought of as selfless surrender had actually become an easy excuse.
As we have traveled with our children, I have been the designated baby feeder, changer, wearer, watcher, which naturally removed me from the action for a time. But time has marched on, and my babies are growing
So, I have a new resolve. If there is music playing, I’ll bust out some moves. If there is a thrilling new coaster to ride, I’ll be first in line. When my kids ask me to join them on the giant bungee swing (gulp),
Here comes the parade!