Monday, March 9, 2015

Death and Dancing

For Lucy's birthday, I bought her a beautiful notebook.  She has notebooks everywhere.  Stacks of notebooks are on her bed, on her desk and in her backpack.  They are filled with stories and lists and ideas and dreams. 

In her new rainbow-colored notebook she was busy making a new list.  
This is a quote from her new notebook/journal.

"What is this list about?," I asked while I was making dinner.

"My fears," she said.

She casually read the list to me.  A lot of her fears are my fears, "climate change" and "death" are on my list too.  But then she said "mom dancing and singing in public." 

"What?!," I screamed.  "Me dancing in public is on the same list as death?!"

She laughed, shut her notebook and replied, "yes, it is."

I froze because all kidding aside, I don't want to make my kid feel bad.  I dance and sing because it's just who I am, I don't intentionally try to embarrass my children.  Growing up I had a mother who seemed to thrive off of doing that.  If my mother saw that one of us was uncomfortable with how she was acting, she pounced.  "Oh are you embarrassed?," she would ask loudly.  "My daughter hates when I do this," she would announce, and do whatever she was doing that embarrassed us even more.  It seemed to make her happy.  She would get louder and laugh and make fun of us.  "Oh what's wrong? Are you embarrassed," she would tease.

I would cringe in the corner of wherever we were, wishing my mother would stop, and I vowed if I had kids I would never intentionally embarrass them, ever.  Fast forward 25 years to THE list of fears with my name, MOM, on it.  

Saturday night Lucy had a few friends over to spend the night and  to celebrate her turning 11.  They were sweet girls, and they were a captive audience.  Part of me wanted to turn up the music and dance and make them laugh.  But I knew that wasn't what Lucy wanted, so when they went upstairs to talk and braid each other's hair I turned up the music in the kitchen and danced with her brothers.

Here's the thing, it's not just me dancing in public that's embarrassing her, it's me standing in public or looking at her or waving when her friends are around or god forbid saying "love you honey" as she gets out of the car.

We have entered the age of embarrassment and self-consciousness and my mother is just so not cool no matter what she does.  Knowing that makes me breath a little easier.  I mean sure it sucks because everything I do will embarrass her, but that's the great part too.  It's not the dancing or singing that I'm doing it's the everything!

So, I am going to keep on dancing and singing and being me.  But I will also respect that she is super sensitive and uncomfortable and trying to figure the whole world out.  I will keep my vow of not going out of my way to make her feel more uncertain and unsafe and embarrassed.  When her friends are around I will reign it in a little more.

I dance and sing because that's who I am and I'm not changing that. It's taken me 40 years to finally feel okay with myself, nope I'm not changing. But that's my life. I won't change, but I also won't enjoy making Lucy feel uneasy.  

It's a weird tightrope thing, this whole feeling great in your skin middle age-ness and parenting adolescents and teens who are just at the beginning of this whole circus of self-discovery and acceptance.  

I'm sure I will mess up and Lucy will be embarrassed sometimes, but I will hold true to my vow to never go out of my way to make her feel uncomfortable.  I will remember that I am not my mother and Lucy is not me.  I will do everything I can to help Lucy feel strong and empowered and loved and ready to be whoever she wants to be in this world.  

And I will encourage her to keep filling notebooks with her stories and lists and dreams and fears and her truths forever and ever.  

1 comment:

  1. You're a good mom <3 Since breathing is embarrassing to tweens, I think you are on the right track in terms of not doing anything with the express purpose of embarrassment :)