There are days I look at my children and wonder just how I became their mother. Well, I don’t mean how exactly. I think I’ve figured that part out. And I don’t sit around wondering if it happened because I can, within about ten seconds, recall the white hot pain that it took to get them both here. But what I’m talking about are those moments when you look up, see your child doing something extraordinary and you wonder to yourself for a half second just who that child belongs to.
“Wait, that’s my kid,” you think. “How did that happen?”
I don’t mean when you are at the park and you hear someone making fart jokes. You look around and wonder where, oh where, could that child’s mother be and why isn’t she doing something to make them stop when you realize it’s your own lovely cherub headed down the potty talk path. I’m talking about when they slay you, you didn’t see it coming and you can’t move from the auditorium chair because you might pee your pants you are so proud.
On a warm night a few weeks ago, I sat with my phone fixed on the stage at Lucille and Eliza’s school. Lucille’s class was up next. She had been practicing her songs with all of the movements the class had choreographed to go with them. They would sing two songs as a class and I wondered just how Lucille would handle being on stage with a couple hundred faces staring back at her.
When Eliza was in kindergarten and faced with the same performance, she pulled her hoodie onto her head, crossed her arms and refused to join her class. Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with my own introversion and it seems Eliza is going to follow me step for step into our own social corner where we can hide out and watch everyone else until we feel comfortable enough to step out of our comfort zone. Turns out that while we’re huddled in our cornerm Lucille will be center stage.
During her kindergarten performance, I’m not sure she realized she was not the only one on stage. She sang the name song with such enthusiasm that you have thought she saw Santa on the other side of the room. She was practically bouncing. And the hand clap, leg slap, finger snap combination at the end was cause for elation. The next song had Lucille planting her feet roots deep, growing her tree branch arms wide and picking the fruit off of imaginary trees as she sang with an open heart. She smiled, looked in the direction of her fruit and grabbed it with gusto. At the very end, she took a courtesy, dress in hands, in a moment of pure joy. She had found her place in the world and it should have come as no surprise that it is in the spotlight.
She’s caught the drama bug and I’m not sure there is a cure. She practices plays at lunchtime on the same stage as her debut and she asked me the other day if she could rejoin her ballet class that we’d let fall away because she really, just really, wants to be in the recital again this year. For Halloween she chose a mermaid costume because of the accessories it offered -it had a pearl bracelet and Wilma Flinstone-esque pearl necklace. She wore them to picture day last week. Two days before Halloween. She wears mascara anytime I’ll let her, calling a regular Tuesday a “special occasion” because that’s when I told her she could wear it. I had meant a once-a-year performance but to Lucille, every day is a day to perform.
That night at her school, I sat beaming, wondering just how someone, created from my genes, could relish in the glow of the stage. She was perfectly at home, perfectly happy, perfectly performing. I was perfectly proud.