A few thoughts that may or may not form some sort of whole.
It was a glorious fall weekend. A bit too warm for Wisconsin this time of year but please don’t let me appear to be complaining. Over and over, I heard comments that this could be the last, best day. So, we carved pumpkins outside, we raked leaves, we listened to our favorite book and knitted outside, and we did homework outside. And in shirt sleeves. Neighbor kids threw balls and frisbees until dark and FaceBook is lined with pictures of babies in leaf piles and everyone else at the homecoming game. Go Badgers!
And in the midst of raking leaves and what passes for philosophical rumination, I stumbled upon the giddy realization that there is an encore in my life. I am giddy in love. With theater. With performance. It has come upon me slowly this time. For reasons, stated, assumed and known only in the dark night of the soul, I left this first true love sufficiently long ago that Cheshire had no touch with a theater mother. I regret neither my theater years nor all those post-theatre years. I learned. I grew. I made some fabulous friends that I would have never met had my path not included law, adoption, autism and grieving. But to be back in the first flush of theatrical romance is delicious.
I never stopped seeing theatre, albeit sometimes with condescension as I’ve lived so long outside of the City, but in the most mediocre of productions, there is a good set or interesting lighting, one performer on whom all eyes are riveted or an interesting piece of blocking. But the prompt that has pushed me over the edge and into boundless infatuation is the “live” performances of the National Theatre of Britain at our local Sundance Cinema. One friend offered me tickets to Medea, then another friend invited me to Street Car, and tonight I am instigating seeing Sky Light by David Hare. I have my yearly subscription to our local professional theater and now a subscription to take Julia to kids’ theatre productions. I picked up the brochure for a dance company and I am dreaming of opera. Who knows where it will end? I refuse to enter any 12 step program unless it has choreography.
In another corner of life, I am becoming . . . that mother.
You know, the one who is chatting up teachers on a daily basis, who goes on all field trips, who is ever present for drop off and pick up, who immediately returns to school to bring forgotten assignments and glasses, and who is second guessing every move teachers make.
I have know those mothers. I have listened to and gossiped about them. I have agreed that they “need a life.” Their kind walked the halls of Cheshire’s private elementary school. It was a school for the academically gifted and a catty remarks from my circle was that the kids were most gifted in the parents that they had. On a third grade field trip, I rode in a van with a mom who, when I asked about her family, sighed and said, “yes, yes, four children. All gifted.” I judged her pretentious and wanted to wretch. Of course, we were there as well although I allowed myself to believe that we were only there because the Indianapolis public schools could not meet Cheshire’s needs. (And I could only rarely go on field trips. I had a job.)
There was a music prodigy, whose mother did not allow her daughter to participate in gym to guard her fingers or in any of the school’s music ensembles. Gym could be justified, but band was a different story. The school was blessed, truly blessed, with a genius music teacher. Students played music every day from 3rd to 8th grade. This teacher had a gift for picking excellent music. Middle school concerts were a pleasure. For a school full of nerdie kids — said with the greatest of love — band was a marvelous team sport. The band travelled every year — once to Carnegie Hall — for competitions. And so, I judged that mother holding her child apart from mine.
There was another kid who skipped grade after grade and who eventually skipped high school. He was in one of Cheshire’s math classes when he was barely old enough to hold a pencil — I exaggerate only slightly. I heard about his mother from kids and other moms long before I met her. According to reports, she was there, at school, all of the time. She helped her son at his locker in the morning and sometimes between classes. She was there for lunch and sometimes was seen sitting in her car when her son was in class. Waiting. I judged her excessive and a bit ridiculous. I thought she should get a life.
And now. Me. Someone should probably be judging me excessive and a bit ridiculous. And all I can say is that I am sorry for my less than kind imaginings. I am trying to micromanage Julia’s time at school and I know exactly why I am doing it. And I am so very sure that those other mothers had reasons which seemed just as vital and significant.
So, mea culpa. As Julia says all the time, “I will not make the same mistake again.” I am not as positive as she usually is, but I will try very hard to take a breath or two before scrutinizing what I may not understand.