Things are getting pretty complicated over here. Two grown-ups working from home, 3 elementary school children fully virtually learning, on three different schedules, with three different lunch breaks, snack breaks, and recess times. And we got a puppy.
Rest assured, I’ve been holding it together for everyone. I say that because I find myself in the role of the “primary caregiver.” And anyone who finds themselves in this position knows what I’m referring to (See this awesome blog on “the default parent”.)
I happen to have an amazingly supportive, hands-on husband who would choose spending time with his family over pretty much anything (except Husker Football). However, even he would admit: It is I who carry the brunt of household and child-rearing duties. It’s what we agreed upon eleven years ago – I was to be a stay-at-home parent and he would work outside of the home to support us all.
I just have to point out ONE more time that all three kids were “supposed” to be in school all day this Fall and I was going to gain 35 hours of child-free life back each week.
Ok – just had to get that in there.
I explained to my husband the other day that I feel like a stagehand, lately. To throw reference to my theatre background – the stagehands create all the theatre magic. They are dressed in black, coming into the scene only when the lights are out to silently rearrange the props and scenery without being seen. When you hear the phrase, “The show must go on” it’s the stagehands who silently make that happen.
I am most definitely a stagehand in our house. I am here to keep the story progressing. To get the internet going for zoom calls. To provide the snacks and meals without interruption in the schedules. To monitor daily exercise and screen time and gently prod everyone to make the right choices. I have Alexa timers going off every 30 minutes to remind people when they need to be back “in the classroom” and I secretly check classwork to make sure they’re completing things on time. I am the cleaner-upper of puppy pee and spilled pirate booty crumbs…the bleacher of toilets and the folder of clothes.
(By the way…I have doled out the role of pairing socks and folding towels to my kids – they earn screen time for such chores – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!).
Anyway, at the end of the day, I feel pretty…invisible.
But – that’s the measure of success, right? A stagehand isn’t meant to be seen. They just take pride in the fact that they made the whole show happen. And I have to admit, I fully accept that this is where I am in life right now. I’m a magic-maker – behind the scenes, and at the end of the day, I feel tremendous pride in what I’ve accomplished.
And don’t get me wrong – my family is very appreciative of the work I’m doing. I get a lot of beautiful flowers from the hubby, and precious kisses and hugs from tiny people who still think I’m the greatest person on the planet, and hand-picked dandelions and misspelled love notes that absolutely melt my heart.
But…I don’t know…something just hadn’t been feeling right.
What’s the problem? Why did I feel like something was missing?
So my new morning walk routine (a new effort to carve time out for myself) takes me down to the lake to watch the sunrise. On my way back up the steep walkway, the sun shines directly on my side and I find myself walking beside my own shadow for a stretch. It caught me off guard the first time I noticed it – I don’t think I’ve ever walked directly next to my shadow before. I stopped and looked at myself, watched myself move, admired the slimming effect of different angles (ha!) and realized what a gift it was take a good look at myself. To examine myself from a different angle; From a new perspective.
I was looking directly at the shadowy dark figure that lives behind the scenes…and it was beautiful. Especially with the Autumn leaves as its backdrop. And the world around me was beautiful. And I was immersed in this private, beautiful moment that was solely…Mine.
The sun shed light on what I needed to do.
I needed to SEE myself.
Even though I cannot meet with my music-making families in person, I feel a humble sense of gratitude for the window into your lives I’m granted during our virtual classes.
What I wouldn’t give for YOU to see what I see on my end.
I feel I’m in the same unique position of the rising sun on my morning walk, shedding light on each of you in a rarely-seen private moment. Alone with your children, playing, laughing, dancing, shaking a mean tambourine, singing…
If you don’t get an opportunity to see yourself for the human you truly are, you’re just going to have to take my word for it – you are spectacular, like the rising sun…
And we all need to take a moment to look at ourselves and appreciate what we do, day in and day out. Because yes, while we certainly did sign up for this life – it’s easy to lose yourself in the insurmountable workload of parenthood. (In a pandemic, let’s not forget).
This week, I hope you find a moment to truly see yourself.
Imagine the sun casting a shadow on your solid form, reminding you that you take up significant space in this world, and you are radiant in its glow.