Sometimes, as a stay-at-home-mom, your day throws you an unexpected little gift. It’s like life is saying, “Hey, I know it can get tough around here. Don’t expect that to change or anything, but here’s a little something for your troubles. Keep on keepin’ on.”
One time, a day that started out pretty discouraging got a little boost in the form of a walk with a friend. Sure, I was pushing my ludicrous yard-sale-find of a triple stroller and she was pushing her strapping young boy twins in her double, but we laughed at ourselves as we sweated around town. She helped me avoid spilling my children into the street when my stroller refused to turn around a corner. We made plans to get together some evening without our kids. And that was all I needed. Before the walk, I was cranky and exhausted. After, I was happy and exhausted. It was a little gift.
Today, I got a little gift again. It gave me some bittersweet, complicated Mommy feelings, but it was a gift nonetheless.
Everyone knows it’s adorable when little kids dance. I mean, they suck at it, for one. They don’t move to the beat, their elbows jut out in random jerks, and they do a lot of booty bouncing. Is there anything cuter? So of course I think my own toddlers just ooze precious punkin’-y cuteness when they dance, especially when they dance together. But today, watching Captain Chaos dance by herself felt a little bit different.
It hadn’t been the smoothest of mornings, but we were all hanging in there. We’d made it through the lunchtime craziness that comes with spoon-feeding a baby and throwing massive amounts of food at two growing toddlers. The girls were energized after their enormous lunch and wanted to listen to music. Sounds great, right? Do a little dancing then gather up the stuffed animals and head to bed.
Here’s the thing: their favorite song, which they want played over and over again, is a goofy 60’s country song called “Tippy Toeing.” As sung by Loretta Freaking Lynn. Why? Because my step-father-in-law plays it for them on the guitar, and because it’s about, of all things, taking care of a baby. I know, right? Weird premise for a song that I can only assume was written for adults as it made it pretty high on the charts in its day. Perfect for two-year-olds with a baby sister though, so they loooooove it.
At this point, I just pretty much tuned it out and let them listen to it as much as they wanted. Everyone seemed content, so I started cleaning up the lunch mess.
But then I stopped.
I looked into the living room and saw my beautiful, free, un-self-conscious little girl, dancing by herself to her favorite song. She was so engrossed in her dancing that she didn’t even notice, as she usually does, when I pulled out my phone to take a video.
She was bouncing a little, and swaying a little, and she didn’t care about anything but the music of that moment.
You know that Norah Jones song, “Seven Years”? It’s beautiful: “Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song/She’s a little girl with nothing wrong/And she’s all alone”. It was like that.
She doesn’t know any cool dance moves. She doesn’t care that her hair has rice stuck in it. She doesn’t know that no one listens to Loretta Lynn anymore. All she knows is that she loves this song and when she hears it, she just has to move.
And what really struck me as I watched her dance was how I wished she could feel like this forever.
I wish she could always just love what she loves, dance when she wants to dance, eat as much food as she wants, and not give a damn about what her hair looks like.
There are so many forces coming at us in this world, especially if we are girls. Forces that tell us what we should love and how we should look and what’s cool and what isn’t and that being cool is important. When I think about how hard it was for me to get through adolescence, and then about my own little girls having to go through that, it takes my breath away. I want them to be themselves, the best of themselves, whatever that may be.
For now though, there’s still time. I’ll help them to battle their way through life’s challenges when the battles come up, but for now, they’re two, dancing like goobers to the music they love.
And their moves are just perfect.