If you looked for me at the wedding reception last weekend, chances are you would have found me on the dance floor. You know I always loved those party bands from our college days, and when Alex and Jack first got engaged, I knew I wanted to spring for a great band for the reception. It was heartwarming to see all ages out there enjoying the music, from the 20-somethings to the grandparents. Even the the teetotaling Christian ladies from Virginia were cutting up the floor. I did learn one thing, however—approach enthusiastic 22-year-olds with caution. I am way beyond the age where I can handle being dipped three times in less than a minute!
In LeeAnn Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance”, she encourages her children to keep their sense of wonder at life, to not settle for the path of least resistance and never to sit out when you can dance. Wise words for my kids to carry with them as they make their way in the world, certainly. But doesn’t that same wisdom apply to me, too?
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.
I’ve lived the season of child-raising and now I’m living the season of child-leaving. I need to remember that life still holds wonder even though the role that most defined my life, motherhood, is changing drastically. (It will never goes away entirely, I know!) I still have chances to take and new paths to forge, just like my kids. It’s time to travel while I can. Take more time for my faith life and give back through charitable work. Enjoy my decades-long marriage, now that it’s just the two of us again. (Maybe we’ll even take dance lessons!) I’m still a role model—all parents are, of course—but now I hope to show the kids that we fogies can still dance, can still find new roads, and not just pine for the old days.
Because now it’s my kids’ turn to take on the heavy lifting of life. I hope they realize I might have gained some wisdom during all these turns around the sun, and that my advice might lighten their burdens a little. But I’ll do my best not to offer it unbidden. (Too often, at least!) I hope they realize I enjoy their company and want to be included in their lives, but I won’t guilt them. I hope they know that I love them and will do anything for them, they only have to ask. But it’s time for me to step back, to let them lead for a while (and I am not good at following, whether on the dance floor or in life!)
I know the kids will always remember that last set on the dance floor, surrounded by family and friends from age 12 to 86. I hope they capture that spirit of joy, that love that surrounded them and take it into their new journey. They’ll need that love and enthusiasm as they move through careers and marriage and child-rearing. I hope they know that I’ll be their biggest cheerleader through it all.
And if they need me? They know where to find me—on the dance floor.