Raise Those Hands and Dance! Musings of Life Before I Was a Parent

I didn’t notice her at first.  She was one of the crowd swaying and rocking back and forth as the music played.  As the night went on I noticed her blonde hair and how the light shown through the ends.  She was young, petite and full of life.  She danced and danced the night away.  Her energy was unceasing.  She would glance at her young boyfriend from time to time.  Watching his tall thin body sway to the beat.  He simply rose a hand when the moment moved him.  She was happy to enjoy the time with him.  She was free.  She raised her hands in agreement with the message that the band was sending.  This feels good, hands raised, body sways and she is consumed with the night.

I watched with envy.  I am probably old enough to be her mother.  I am past the years of worrying about what others think of me.  I can raise my hands and dance so it’s not fear that is stopping me.  She is carefree.  I am weighed down.  She moves her body as if she didn’t have a care in the world.  It rocks and she feels the beat deep within.  The light beams through her hair.  She looks at her boyfriend and watches his long lean body move in ways that make her smile.  Life is now.  It’s music.  It’s fun.  It’s the time of their lives.

We are weighed down.  We clap and tap our feet.  We can do no more.  We want to.  We want to jirate our bodies and raise our hands.  Yet, we can’t escape the reminders of home, work, bills, adult children, the impending empty nest, the mess we made of our finances, the desire to move, the house repairs, aging parents, the unfamiliarity of how our bodies are aging and changing and the realization that we are struggling to get through this mid-life mess.  She jirates again.  The lead singer screams, “Our sex is on fire”.  She grins and looks at his tall thin body and imagines what will be on fire after the concert.  We don’t even look.  We are lucky to be there at all.  We aren’t sure what keeps us together, but looking at them we remember how it started.

Raise your hands and dance!  Don’t stop raising them and don’t stop dancing.  Something is going to happen and it’s hard.  It will make you smile, cry, scream, and ache.  It will make you tired, numb your mind and dig into your soul.  It will transform you.  It will transform us.  It’s a ride you will get on that won’t stop.  You think it will in 18 years, but you are wrong.  It comes wrapped in a package of love, new clothes, cute diapers, showers and joy.  It can be controlled because it’s dependent.  It’s helpless, defenseless and ignorant of all of life.  Something that won’t change for a long time.  You can hold it, love it, dress it, teach it and adore it and for a short time it loves you for it.

It’s parenting.  It’s something that enters your heart that wont’ let go.  Something that changes your being.

In February of 1990 I placed my first child and daughter into our small car in the hospital parking lot.  I was 20.  I gently shut the door and raised up and looked at my husband.  What do we do now?  The weight of responsibility hit us harder than any hangover we had experienced.  This small person was completely reliant upon us.  She looked to us for answers and we had none.  We barely knew how to take care of ourselves let alone another person.  The ride home was quiet.  What do we do with her?  How will we take care of her?  How will we provide her with the things she needs?  Everything changed.  We started on a journey that continues today.  We would later take home three more babies to make our family of six.  Each time changing and growing with a new birth.

Where is Marcy?  Where is my husband?  Where are the people that used to raise their hands and dance?  Are they lost?  Can they ever find their way back?  Perhaps they can, but in a new way.  Perhaps it will take some work to learn how to be us and learn how to be carefree.  Perhaps we need to learn to trust in something greater than us and let our cares rest there.  Before we were parents we were good at blocking out the cares of life and focusing on the moment.  The feeling of us and the passion for life.  We rose our hands.  We swayed to the rhythm and let the beat take us away.  Hold my hand.  Look in my eyes.  They will be alright.  The moment right now is ours.

Marcy Pedersen

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