I’m not exactly sure what part of motherhood is natural instinct or what part is learned. I’m unsure what guilt and fear is stamped in our DNA or if it’s a Lifetime Movie version of events that play over and over in our mind. I can barely remember why I walked into the living room half the time.
What I do know to be true is that it is all a dance. I won’t burst out into a country song and sing “life is a dance, you learn as you go”…ok, I kinda did. But, I believe, girls are born to dance. In our infancy, we can feel the beat of the music and just gotta dance. We receive applause and cheers and requests from onlookers, “Can you show me how you dance?” From our days as a little girl, so proud of a new dress; we twirl and twirl. Complete with ruffled socks and meticulously polished white shoes (read the book), we dance and spin until our daintily flowered underpants show. We are met with “how sweet” or “look how pretty” and we twirl until we are dizzy.
I love to watch little kiddos at wedding receptions. They are the first ones on the dance floor. Dancing and twirling and shaking their stuff with out a care in the world. Oblivious that anyone is watching or carefree if they are watching. Onlookers smile with tilted heads, basking in their happy-go-lucky perspective. They aren’t afraid of being the only dancing. Pure joy.
At some point, however, it becomes taboo. It is no longer sweet. It is met with “put your dress down, someone will see” or we are told to wear shorts under our dresses or some other punishment for our dance. Someone has flipped on the ‘shame-switch’ and we are perplexed. What have we done wrong? Why am I not sweet anymore? Shame and doubt is planted in something that once gave us, and everyone around us, joy.
Through our young adult days, we become crippled with the doubt of our sweetness, our prettiness. Awkward and clumsy middle school dances, ugh, pimples and sweaty hands and a boy asked us to dance! Our once carefree twirling becomes stiff and boxy; the fear that your partner will feel your sweaty hands on their shoulder. The fear of your deodorant giving out. Believing that your dance partner is viewing the zit in the middle of your forehead as if he’s looking at a cyclops.
High school isn’t any easier. Back in MY day, prom was all about the dress and the Grande March and the hottie on your arm. Going out for dinner beforehand and being terrified you’d spill on your rad Gunne Sax dress. Wondering how in the world you’d ever pee with 900 pounds of tulle. And the irony of it all, no one danced. Hours and hours of preparation and agonizing french braids and hairspray, and no. one. is. dancing! The opportunity to twirl in a big damn dress is smashed by the anticipation of the ‘real fun’ happening later.
And then…the dress…THE dress. Your wedding day! So much pressure is placed on the dress and the plans for the wedding that we lose sight of planning for our marriage. So much emphasis is placed on the bride being on display for one day. When everything about your ‘sweetness’ is evaluated and measured by dry chicken cutlets or a mediocre cake. The fun part, the dancing. Back to the sweet littles stealing the show. Dancing without a care in the world. But then…..THE dance! The first dance. Peruse Facebook for any length of time and you’ll be smattered with dozens of ‘first dance’ videos. Big grand productions, rehearsed in secret or dance lessons insisted upon months earlier. It’s a big damn deal. But it’s for show, not for the soul. Gone are the days of twirling and spinning because someone else said so!
As children enter our lives, we take on yet another dance. The hustle and bustle of holding babies, making bottles and shutting the oven door with your foot. Of shuffling an unwilling – half naked toddler into a bathtub. Of doing the pee pee dance and praying you don’t have to sneeze (can I get an amen, ladies?) Busyness takes over our lives and it seems as though the dance steps are jumbled and the rhythm is anything but smooth.
But in the quiet, in the wee hours of the night/early morning, the sweetest of all dances happens, the Mommy Dance. The peaceful moments of swaying with a sleeping child in your arms, the sweetness of looking at their angelic faces and knowing that miracles happen every day. The gentle sway that brings calm to both woman and child. (hopefully) The dance as if a breeze is carrying you both on its breath. The grace of the Mommy Dance stays with you always. It is engrained on our soul. The moment a woman picks up a child, hers or not, the dance begins. It is the dance that refuses to be tamed.
The Mommy Dance is stamped on our hearts. I love to watch the women in the rows in front of me during worship time in Sunday Service. The Mommy Dance is ever present, any woman who has cradled a child in her arms, dances still. Even as her arms are now empty, she hears the music in her ears, she feels the music in her soul. The sway, the waltz that moves your body with the gentleness of a breeze never leaves us. It’s as if we are still rocking that treasure in our arms.
My prayer for the mommies, and for the arms of the women longing to have been mommies, I pray your find that place in your soul again. Find that sweetness, that innocence that didn’t really care if anyone was watching. That breeze that floods your heart and moves your feet. But please, wear pretty underpants if you get the opportunity to really twirl!