“You don’t stop dancing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop dancing.” – Jellybean Benitez
My birthday is in two days, August 16. I will be 57 years young. I recall a time when, four years ago, I was driving Shane and Max to the skateboard store. Shane said to me, “Mom, what’s your best dance move to bring to the dance floor?” I said, “Duh, it’s the Smurf!” Shane turned up the radio and I started car dancing to 50 Cent (because teenagers picked the music). Max yelled from the back seat, “Mom, STOP! You’re making God cry!”
My Max, my youngest, my baby, began his senior year of high school today. When his older brother, Shane, was starting high school, he would announce himself whenever he came home. He would slam the front door open and yell, “SHANE’S HOME!” When he stopped announcing himself, I missed that. I still miss that.
Today, on social media, I saw all the photos of my friends’ kids heading off to the first day of school. I don’t have pics of my kids’ first days of their last couple of years of school. First of all, they were usually at their dad’s house and he’s way more relaxed than me about that kind of stuff. Second, that’s not their jam. But here’s what I did do today, for Max’s last first day of high school. I went into his bedroom this morning with my headphones on, listening to a playlist that I made for him. And I danced. “Ooh-oo child, Things are gonna get easier. Ooh-oo child, Things’ll get brighter….Some day, yeah. We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done.” And so – I danced the Smurf to the Five Stairsteps in my high school senior son’s bedroom at 7:00 a.m. on a Wednesday. I’m pretty sure it made God laugh until they cried.
A few weeks back, Max was hanging out on my bed while I was practicing salsa steps. And I realized that we had gotten past the whole car dancing debacle. It’s an anti-climatic moment when you realize that you no longer have the power to embarrass your kid with your old school dance moves.
When Shane was here earlier this summer, he didn’t announce his entrances. But he would come into my room each day and tell me his comings and goings. He still calls and texts me enough to let me know that he has not been eaten by bears in Oregon.
I think, perhaps, maybe, this whole mom thing may be working out in my favor. My sons are moving on and out and I am going to have this entire house as my dance floor. Silver lining. And yet, I will always have them here – in my heart, my soul, my amazing kids. Yeah. This mom gig, it’s turned out to be the best job I never got a job description for.
During my 56th year, I said goodbye to many beloved friends and family. One of my dear friends told me the day before she passed away, “Know that you are always loved. And keep loving and appreciating. And don’t forget to dance.” Every morning, I get out of bed and I put on music. And I boogie downstairs to get coffee, with my beloved furry co-counsel Atticus Finch in tow. Starting with that first cup of coffee, I remind myself. This is good. Know that you are always loved. And don’t forget to dance until you make your kids and God cry. Happy birthday to me. Happy every day to you.