The other night our family traveled a short ways to my sister-in-law’s house to help her with some yard work in preparation for gardening season. Well, I had very little help to offer but I enjoyed getting some footage of my kids playing in the dirt. As I watched my sis-in-law using the giant, heavy tiller, I turned to her daughters and said, “I hope you realize how special your mother is. I would never be able to do that!” The next morning I was reflecting on the image of Heather in the garden and I said to Aaron, “You know, my talents have given me some pretty fun experiences, but I wish I had talents that were actually useful to other people.” He, of course, disputed the idea that my talents weren’t useful (bless his heart), but I was still skeptical. How could dancing or singing benefit my family in any way?
Later that day I found an opportunity to watch Dancing With the Stars while I folded laundry (I’m good at folding laundry!). As I watched this dance segment I was so happy and I couldn’t keep from smiling but wanting to cry at the same time. I watched it again and had the same reaction. It didn’t forever change my life in a huge way, but it was a moment in a generally boring and monotonous mom-day that made my heart jump a little. Okay, a lot.
Side note: I’ve really been loving this show lately. I think one of the biggest reasons is Candace Cameron Bure (DJ of Full House fame). Her optimism and commitment to her faith and religion in the middle of raising a family and being in the public eye is inspirational. Despite growing up as a “child star” she has still managed to stay true to who she is and people are actually rooting for her. She is the perfect example of being in the world but not of it. She has used her talents to inspire and make people want to be better. Her children are in the audience cheering her on every week and one week showed her daughter telling her mother how cool it was to watch her mom out there feeling so empowered.
Remember in March I said I’d attended a inspirational conference for women? Well at this conference one of the musical groups shared some thoughts about the talents they each wished they had. One wished she was a better cook so she could make wonderful treats for her kids’ friends when they came over. Another wished she was more organized so she could actually find clothes in her kids’ closets. The last wished she knew how to garden so her family could be more self-sufficient. They each admitted that these were not talents they had acquired. Yet here they were, inspiring and uplifting people in a way that most mothers could never do. One of them (ironically named Whitney) said, “God made YOU the mother of your children because he wants you to do ‘you things’ with them.”
I remember my mom getting out her old performance scrapbooks to share from her Broadway days and, on a good day, I would mmm-hmm and wow until she put them away. Now I think my mom is one of the most talented and incredible women on earth who had one of the most rare opportunities any mother could ever have. God made her specially for me. She is my inspiration. She understands the struggle it has been for me to stop dancing because she has BEEN THERE. No one else understands that.
I’m still not entirely convinced that my kids are going to be inspired by the fact that I know how to dance or sing. At least not yet — Recently I turned on an old performance video of mine for educational purposes and Calder threw a hysterical tantrum as he tried to climb up on the TV and turn it off — but maybe one day.
Sometimes I wish I had the talent of sewing, always I wish I had the talent of patience (it is a talent, and if you have it you are lucky), in the winter I wish I had the talent of skiing. Almost always I wish I had every talent. I’d be such a better mom if I had ALL the talents.
If you need to be reminded that this is not true, read The Mixed-up Chameleon by Eric Carle. You can always develop new talents, but you don’t need all the talents to be useful to people. Only the ones that make you, you.