You know, sometimes I like to think that I am doing all of the wisdom-imparting in my home. I am teaching my children everything they need to know to be successful little people. I have perfected so many lectures on various life lessons. They are really good lectures with really good lessons! But, every now and then, something is said or done that reminds me – I sure don’t know it all. My kids have a lot of lessons to teach me, too.
Last year we took our children to see a local musical theatre production show.
Cascade Christmas is a yearly event that is housed in a beautiful, old historic theatre. It is full of singing and dancing, costumes and lights, and some sort of magical feel-good pixie dust.
Our kids loved it. In fact, I took this picture during the show because I found my children’s faces so beautiful as they were swept up in the wonder of it all…..
At the end of the production, Leah told me that she wanted to be one of the singers or dancers in that show.
“Sure, honey. One day you can do that.” I responded, placating her.
“No, mom. Really. I am going to be in that show.”
Leah spent the next several months convincing me that she should audition.
At first, I tried to explain that every other kid who auditioned would have years of dance class and training. I talked about the fact that she is still an English Language Learner and that it might be hard for her to understand the directions. I told her that singing in public can be scary and maybe she should wait a year or two until she has had some experience.
She would not listen to me.
Good for her.
Why was I trying to discourage her from living her dream?
I finally got on board and we picked a song for her to work on. We practiced her singing. We practiced her timing. We practiced her performance. And I loved every minute of it.
You see, for as long as I can remember, I have loved musical theatre. I would dream about waking up one day and suddenly my life would have become one big production show. I would sing. I would dance. My family participated in all of the musical numbers. When I went grocery shopping, a flash mob would ensue because of all the excitement in the produce section. It was kind of like living inside of High School Musical. I was a star!
During our hours of practice, I told Leah over and over again that she was living my dream! I was so excited for her!
The week of the auditions, as we were running through her solo for maybe the 74th time, Leah said, “Mom, if this is your dream, why don’t you audition, too?”
Oh, honey. You are just so precious. You don’t understand my limitations. I am old. I have never taken a dance class. I am not really sure that I can sing. I have never done something like this before. And did I mention that I am old?
“Mom (said in an impatient, I-am-not-really-listening to you kind of voice) if I can do it, you can do it, too.”
Once again, I completely discounted the fact that she could have something to teach me. I ignored her suggestion.
Until the day of the auditions. I thought that this would be the perfect time to start really listening to my daughter.
“Mom, why are you so scared? If I can do it, you can do it, too.”
I decided something. If my daughter (who had recently lost her culture, her homeland, and her language; who moved to a new land to face a whole lifetime of the unknown) – if she wasn’t scared, then I really had no excuse.
I told her she was right and I was wrong. We should never let the unknown future stop us from living our dreams. We should never let the fear of failure keep us from trying. My pastor asked recently, “What would you attempt if you knew that you could not fail?” Did I really want to teach my daughter to let fear hold her back?
I went to those auditions. Oh, yes I did.
You guys, every singe other person who was auditioning was under the age of 20 (except for one beautiful 32-year-old lady who had danced her whole life – also, she had no children so that is like minus 10 years off of her real age.)
And then there was me; the 35-year-old mother of 6 who had never taken a dance class in her life. (The 6 children add 10 years to my real age.) I felt like I should be wearing some kind of sign to explain my presence at the auditions. Maybe it would read “my daughter made me do this” or “YOLO.”
They sent us all up on the stage and spent 15 whole minutes teaching us choreography. Let me just say, the choreography included a double pirouette (which I promptly turned into a single) and a whole bunch of other steps that flew right out of my head as soon as the music started.
To finish things off, they lined up the ladies according to height and gave us instructions for a kick line. The instructions went something like this….
Ok, ladies. We will start with 4 kicks at hip height. (hip height, oh good, I can do that)
Then, give us 4 kicks to shoulder height. (hmmmm….maybe I can hunch my shoulders down and meet my kicks somewhere in the middle)
And, finally, give us 4 kicks up over your head as high as you can make them. (Sure. No problem. Absolutely can
not do that.)
The truth is, I was embarrassed. But, who knows, maybe they were looking for a 35-year-old mom who had really perfect hip-high kicks. If so, I was going to be the very best 35-year-old mom up on that stage!
Okay, night one of auditions done. I now had less than 24 hours to figure out if I could carry a tune, pick the perfect song, and get ready for my solo.
Let me insert here that I have always believed myself to be a fairly good singer. I mean, I thought I sounded decent in the shower, I sounded okay when I sang lullabies to my kids, and I sounded especially perfect when I worshiped in church and was drowned out by about 500 other voices. But, I have never had anyone confirm or deny my suspicions. I have never been a part of a choir. I have never auditioned for a solo except for one very special instance when I was in 5th grade and I was Calamity Jane in our school talent show. (The reason I was so keen on the Calamity Jane solo was that it included the opportunity to wear a pink cowboy hat. The singing was of secondary importance.)
So, at 8:30 pm on Monday night, I called my friend who is a vocal coach. I asked if I could drop by for just a minute so she could listen to me sing and give me her professional opinion of my voice. Her response?
“Do you want me to really be honest with you? Like completely honest? I don’t want any hard feelings between us. I don’t want to ruin our friendship.” (Thanks, LynnAnne.)
And with that vote of confidence, I showed up on her doorstep.
First we had to choose a song.
Of course, because of the time constraints, it had to be something to which I already knew all of the words. This limited my options to Disney songs.
We quickly settled on The Little Mermaid’s “Part Of Your World.” Never-you-mind that the song is supposed to be sung by a prepubescent mermaid, I was going to own that thing. I was going to BE Ariel.
She turned on the music and told me to go for it.
And, actually, she was pleasantly surprised. I believe her exact words were, “You don’t have any bad habits. You don’t do runs or trills or slides (technical terms, I am assuming, for some sort of singing problems.) With some work, you might actually have a shot at this thing.”
I told her she had 30 minutes to fix me and get me ready.
Thank you, LynnAnne, for giving me some pointers and giving me some confidence.
I spent all day Tuesday alternating between singing Ariel’s song over and over and over again, and spending time in the bathroom (no joke, I was so nervous about singing in public that I felt sick to my stomach all day.)
In all honesty, I seriously considered backing out. I did not want to get up on that stage and embarrass myself. But, my daughter was watching. She was learning far more from my actions than she ever did from my lectures.
I did it.
I showed up, I stood on that stage, I prayed that I would not throw up, and I sang my first ever audition solo.
You guys! It went pretty darn good. In fact – wonder of all wonders – I got a callback.
Oh, yes, you read that right.
I. Got. A. Callback.
But my darling Leah did not.
On our way home from the theatre, I talked about good sportsmanship and how proud I was of her response to the disappointment. I told her that it didn’t matter to me if she got the part or not, I was just so proud of her for the bravery it took to put herself out there and audition in the first place. I told her that she had taught me a lesson about not letting fear stop me from doing something that I had always wanted to do. And I told her that I would not go to my callback if it made her feel sad.
“Mom, (said in that same impatient, I-am-not-listening to you kind of voice) you have to go back. I don’t feel bad. You are old and I am young. You don’t have very long to do this but I can do it again.”
Thanks, honey, for the reminder of my age. For a moment, in the midst of my euphoria over my callback, I had forgotten that I was old.
And then she said something beautiful.
“Mom, you are swimming in your dream. You always tell me that this is your dream. And now you are swimming in it.”
That is exactly how it feels. Like swimming through a dream.
I went to that callback. And I loved every minute of it.
I wish I could end this post with the news that I got the part, but, that is not the case.
What I did get was a new appreciation for my daughter. That girl is brave. And strong. And she taught me something this week – don’t let fear dictate your actions.
And I got the experience of swimming in my dream…at least for a little while.