The truth must dazzle gradually... ~Emily Dickinson
All the world's a stage.
All day. Every day. Every minute, every second.
I'm on display. And the audience in my household may not know what roils around inside my heart and mind, but my actions speak louder than any old thoughts.
After all, a mama who stubs her toe and rolls around the floor howling in agony (mind you, it's The Toe, the always-broken one, the only one out of the ten that ever gets stepped on, stubbed, smooshed, etc.) has just taught an excellent lesson in How To Lose Control and Not Find it Again For Quite Awhile.
And the mama who scowls at dishes in the sink and sighs over cobwebs and dust bunnies multiplying in corners mustn't wonder why the four-year-old does the same when it's time to clean her room- it's simply another lesson in How to Act Like a Martyr Loud Enough For Everyone in the House to Hear it Without Even Saying a Word.
No. Please don't take Life Acting lessons from me.
So, it already feels like I've lived an entire day but it's only 7:32 AM, and I'm standing at the counter buttering toast, sliding eggs onto plates, filling cups with orange juice. A thousand things are dashing through my mind, I butter and slide and pour frantic, and though the wispy bangs I cut months ago and now can barely tuck behind my ears are falling into my eyes and I blow them breathless, tuck them roughly, futilely back to their place, he smiles where he waits.
Mama. And my eyes lock with his, all hazel with a spot of brown, crinkly with a smile. Mama, you're so beautiful! He, my second born, loves my hair "down", and never fails to notice, even when The Hair Left Down is accidental.
And I blush and grin and slow to present with a flourish the filled plates to clamoring stomachs, and I thank him with stage words, funny and light. This ol' hairdo? Why, I only wear it when I don't care how I look! And I flip split ends and blow bangs again and we laugh silly.
But inside, I'm quaking. Sometimes, they blast me with their eyes, and I feel the full effect of their trust in me, the way every move I make is on display. And I'm thinking, Whatever did I do to deserve sons who call me beautiful at my ugliest?
And I'm remembering, once again, that I'm on stage. Constantly. Every action is witnessed by an audience, every mistake magnified by glaring stage lights, awkward silences following childish outbursts from a tired mama.
Where can I hide when all my world's a stage, but I've not even come close to learning the right lines?
I suppose if I mess up, I can laugh and try again. Or, stoop low and place gentle hands on shoulders and gaze long into sad eyes and say I'm sorry. Stub toe and hop around angry inside but silly outside, fighting back tears and smiling into concerned faces and assuring them I will be okay. Sing a glad song while folding Mt. Laundry, praying the prayer that never fails, Thy will be done when all else has failed...
Yes, from way down there the makeup and lights make me appear glamorous and grown-up and they might be thinking I want to be just like her and I'm seeing their actions follow suit but the truth is
We're now on take fifty-two, and I'm still picking my way through the lines; the day's nearly over, and I haven't got it right yet.
And it's bedtime now, for everyone. We're scattered through Nana and Papa's house on our travels, and boy's long legs and elbows cover couches, caught up in blanket folds, and I'm kissing them goodnight and turning to Husband to do the same, before I join my girl in yet another room.
And they're watching.
The room is dark, but I see shadow-lashed eyes peeking from beneath quilts. He's pulled me tight into him, beard catching my hair, our arms laced tightly around each other. And I think to give him a quick peck and I love you and beat a hasty retreat.
But the stage is not a place for secrets. And this secret's definitely already out. I love him.
The truth must dazzle gradually, Emily Dickinson said, or every man be blind.
A thousand hugs and kisses and acts of service and I love you's and they know I love him, but then the curtain is drawn, mostly over the most intimate moments, but sometimes unnecessarily, and I think, Let's dazzle!
And we kiss long, and deep, and hold longer, and deeper, and I say it, stage whisper so they can hear... I love you!
In the dark, I know they're smiling, and I'm smiling too as I carefully find my way to the bedroom door.
The stage is no place for secrets. And I think I'm starting to get it.
I want the truth of this life to be evident to my children; there are hard decisions to make every day, and every day can be a struggle, yet filled with many joys.
I don't want the truth to blind them when it's their turn; when my girl is a mama and she feels the struggle, I want her to gird herself and rise and meet the challenge. When my little men are confronted with difficulties, I want them to remember, from experience, what they witnessed about mastering self-control.
There will be successes and there will be failures. And I'm not going to hide either of them.
Prepare to be dazzled, children.