Parenting takes courage. We summon it from amazing places after our children are born. Questions about bowel movements don’t embarrass us, interrogating babysitters becomes rote, facing off with teachers and other parents, making choices, suffering consequences, getting up and doing it over and over again.
Sometimes I’m motivated to do things because my children are watching. I want to lead by example because I think it’s the right thing to do. And because I hated it when my mother said things to me like “Because I said so!” Of course when that happened, I immediately stopped doing, or started doing whatever it was I was supposed to, but really, is because I said so a reason? Sometimes I wanted to say, “why don’t YOU do it?” But that’s never a good thing to say to your mom.
So this leads me to the day I wanted my little girl to audition for a community theater show. I wouldn’t do it, I have stage fright. But I told her she should. The disagreement followed and I won, but only “because I said so.”
As the years went by I remembered how I never tried out for my school plays, or auditioned for any of the solo parts in choir. Was it fair for me to thrust them onto a stage when I never could find the courage to do that? I really had no idea what it was like to stand alone on a stage. Why was I so scared? More importantly, how could I get over it?
One day purely by chance I met a woman who was trying to put together an adult acting class, “a friendly atmosphere” with no auditions required. I thought okay, this may be the very thing I need. Surprisingly I didn’t hate it. But while I gained confidence, my classmates dropped out until I was the only one left in the class. But fate stepped in another door opened, but this time with real actors and a real goal – to complete an audition for a community theater production. Egad. I explained to this new group of experienced actors that I was doing this merely for self improvement and that I wasn’t sure about the whole audition thing.
Twelve weeks later I was literally a new me. I was ready, monologue prepared, lights on, center stage – me. I found the courage to stand there alone, say my lines and deliver. I think I actually grew taller as the weight of that my burden departed. I even got a tiny part in a tiny play.
Being strong for the kids is easy but being strong for myself took a little work. Even though there are no outward signs of my victory, I know I’m a better parent. I’m a better person. Shaking off those school day inhibitions took a long time and I know it’s cliché to say it but if I can do it, anybody can. And frankly, I’d rather say that to my kids than say because I said so.