fourth

No one would ever mistake me for a dance mom.  Most men these days can do a better bun than me and I can’t tell the difference between a leotard and a swimsuit. Tess has been in dance for over four years now and I’d still rather vacuum than help her put on tights (which is saying ALOT). Her debut was at a Junior League Christmas shopping event where they had squeezed a stage in the corner and invited local dance studios to perform while women shopped for all things Santa and rhinestone. Tess was barely out of pull ups. I didn’t want to start her that young, but….if she heard music ….she danced.  In the aisle at the grocery store. In restaurants, she would “perform” while waiters dodged her dancing between tables. Occasionally she even got applause. The check-out clerks at Target would tell me, the table next to us eating would tell me and even my parents told me, “Get that girl in dance”. So finally I bought the tiniest of ballet slippers and the most annoying tap shoes and signed her up. Her class only had a few members, because only an insane person would put a three-year-old in dance.  While lining up for her Christmas debut I learned that one girl in her class was sick, and the other had a death in the family. That was it. Her class had three members and quickly her trio had fallen to a solo act. I was so nervous for her. I wondered what she would do when she walked out on the now seemingly huge stage. Alone. In front of all these people and the music started. My plan was this,  If she panicked or froze I’d climb up there with her and go through the motions. If any of you have seen me dance -- you know that this would be entertaining for all, but not for the right reasons.  Instead my girl got up there. Looked wide eyed and nervously into the crowd -- and nailed it.  I had made my way to the front, ready to rush the stage if necessary and instead I ended up weeping like the three year old.
Tess is older now. She almost has enough hair for a bun, but I think this is her last season to dance (at least according to her). I don’t weep at recitals anymore (except maybe because they are soooooo long), but today as I walked out of her elementary school I felt the same feeling. My heart in my stomach. Love and pride bursting me wide open.  Her school does an oratorical contest at the end of the year. Each year a single student is chosen from each class to compete. In front of the whole entire school, a bunch of parents who always get the good seats because they aren’t rushing from the middle of third period, and the most scary --- a panel of serious looking judges.  For the last year I have found my seat in the back of the cafeteria, once for Owen and the last two years for Tess. My son is quiet and shy and so I was surprised that he was chosen. I asked him to practice and he wouldn’t even read his poem to me, but he got on the stage and said it in front of hundreds of people. Again my heart swelled and nearly broke me open. He took last place, but it is one of my favorite trophies. Last year Tess was so tiny, only a kindergartener and I wasn’t sure if she would crack. She shook a little and rushed her poem, but the thought of grown up me speaking in front of that many people makes my knees wobble. Today she was even better, a little quiet but more confident. She took 3rd place, which sounds impressive - but the truth is that is next to last. Still I felt that same feeling as I walked back to my car. It felt just like every time my son stood at bat and I prayed he didn’t strike out. Every time they spoke at a school play. How I feel everytime my son runs across a finish line in a race, especially now that I can’t run with him. How I felt when he said a speech in a library full of parents as Ross Perot. He kept going even when his fake ear started to fall off. When their teachers have read kind words about my students at awards breakfasts where few are chosen. Those words have always meant more than any certificate or trophy.
They are older, they have changed so much and so quickly, but my heart feels the exact same. Like part of it is walking around on the outside of my chest. (like the Elizabeth Stone quote).

 It is awards season at the schools my children attend and my own. I will rush over between classes. Hug them and tell them I am proud of them. I will take a picture of them with their certificate. But the truth is my heart doesn’t feel the same rush. It doesn’t want to bust as each kid, mine included, receives a certificate. Getting an award, just like everyone else, doesn’t quite mean the same thing. My heart wouldn’t have felt any less proud if my kids had taken home 1st place trophies instead of 3rd or 4th. I realized that I am most proud of my kids when they do hard scary things. Things that require work, kindness or knocking knees.  When they have the opportunity to fail. When they are brave, despite a panel of judges or roomful of peers or suddenly find themselves alone. In ballet slippers, soccer cleats or church shoes. Rarely do kids get awards for being brave. These days most awards are handed out for performance or participation. Sometimes the best kind of trophies or certificates look more like 4th place than 1st place.

a mothers day repost



The first time I posted this wasn't on mother's day or even close....but it seems to fit today. I have written a ton lately....but none of it seems ready for public consumption just yet. So --instead there is this:

My Favorite Scar

When I was ten I fell on a piece of glass and sliced open my left hand.
The scar is thick and a little lumpy because I waited too long to get stitches.
On my other hand is larger white scrappy scar from a bike injury. The involved me trying to beat the boys.
My knees are thick with scars. More bikes, tennis courts and plain old clumsy.

My son has a few already and he gladly shows them off.
They are a testament to his toughness.  The one on his back shows that he did in fact survive jumping (and falling off the bed). There is one on his chin that the ER doctors glued shut – we no longer practice diving in the bathtub.
And a little one on his hairline that received a few staples.
Scars show us what we have survived and we have healed.
But I have a favorite scar that shows me so much more.
It is about 6 inches across and marks a thin pink raised line across my lower abdomen.
My son’s delivery ended in an emergency c-section.
After all the pushing and blood I really didn’t care how he got here.
Even if it involved slicing across my belly and eventually 19 staples.
Every nurse that came in and checked me commented on the incision.
They kept saying how neat it was and that it would leave a nice scar, one nurse even said a pretty scar.
A nice scar. A pretty scar.
I kept thinking they were crazy. That this was just their trained way to make people feel better. They kept saying that I could even wear a bikini if I wanted.
I wondered if they had been taking some of my morphine.
But the line was clean and neat and shrunk considerably even by my one month check up.

The second time around it was a little more scheduled.
My doctor encouraged another c-section so that I wouldn’t repeat what had happened the first time. I didn’t need much encouragement.
My first birth experience hadn't been a fun one.
So I had another c-section.
This one, was planned but wasn’t so easy.
There was a lot of scar tissue and she had some trouble stopping the bleeding.
This time, no one told me that I had a neat incision or that I would end up with a pretty scar.
Instead they just billed me for extra ER time and gave me plenty of morphine.

But still the staples came out and it shrunk down considerably. This time a little thicker, a little curved at one end and at least an inch longer.
I could still feel pain there for almost a year.
And sometimes it is still a little sensitive.
Occasionally I still trace my finger over this little pink line and amazed that my two children entered the world here. This little scar is where I became a mother not once but twice. Despite what the nurses said, it isn’t pretty. But it is still beautiful.  It doesn’t say anything about toughness.  If anything, my lack of. I don’t show it off proudly like my son does with his scars. (Trust me, no one wants to see me in a bikini).
But I treasure it.

I believe that Jesus was fully man once.
That he scraped knees and chins like the rest of us.
I’m sure he had his share of scars.
I don’t even want to think about the ones on his back.
And I’m just speculating.
But I imagine, sometimes, Jesus probably looks down at his hands.
Where the nails used to be, touches them tenderly.
And treasures those scars.
And the life that came from them.