Monday, September 21, 2009

The Next, Best Waltz (or I Keep Stepping on Cheerio's)

I played Chopin's "Waltz in C Sharp Minor" on our stereo today. When I was younger I could play that piece on the piano, if not flawlessly, at least quite remarkably. There have been times when playing the piano was vital to me. I recall working fairly hard at it.

I've had a tough couple of days (okay, three years). Both of my children and husband are sick. So...they've been home. I have picked up every single toy (numbering close to three thousand) three times each. I have yet to walk across a room without the crunch of Cheerio's beneath my feet. It's like some kind of magnet between the floor and Cheerio's. I landed sideways into a pile of dirty laundry because rounding a corner at 60 m.p.h. I tripped over a plastic blue Barbie convertible. I have wiped runny noses exactly one thousand times (my husband handles his own Kleenex, however) (and thankfully). I have said "NO!" more than any other word in my vocabulary.

Today, as so many other days, I have not liked being a mother. My lofty aspirations of raising, well, someone close to the second coming seem lost in endless days of practicality. Seemingly gone are all the positive, encouraging words that I want my children to hear. And definitely gone are the days when playing a waltz was the struggle of my day.

At times, mothering two toddlers has meant cavorting through meadows blissfully seeing the beauty of this earth through their eyes and peaking through windows calling out for Peter Pan. On the best days, it has even meant praying with and for them to become everything God intended. (Concert pianist? Olympic gymnast? At least walking upright?). That just hasn't been today, or very often.

Generally, I can only concentrate on creating a walkway through the toys and keeping everyone relatively unharmed...including myself.

Today I put Chopin's waltz in to see if it might have a calming effect on toddlers. It doesn't seem to. It's so disappointing that I can no longer play that waltz, or for that matter, that I no longer even dust the piano.

As I stood momentarily enjoying the magnificence of Chopin, marveling at how talented I must be somewhere inside, I overheard Hannah, my two-year-old, encouraging her stuffed monkey, Monkey McMoooo, to climb up a tower of blocks, "You can do it. Good girl." And thankfully, I realize that she must have gotten that from me! At least, I dearly hope it was from me. And maybe, rather than just playing the piano, or merely picking up toys, my days are actually spent raising a legacy of people who will encourage others. Those positive words I managed to fit in-between "no" and "You need a Kleenex, Keith, I mean Hannah" have been heard. Hannah will encourage her stuffed monkeys, her little sister, her friends, her children, and on and on.

I am so grateful to realize that this is better than playing a waltz, and will last longer than the five minutes I was able to play it. God willing, this legacy will last longer than runny noses and will override the first 2.3 million "NO'S!"

If I sat down at the piano today to attempt that waltz, I wonder if Hannah would say, "You can do it. Good girl."

Even though I long for the thrill of playing something beautiful on the piano, I'm deeply satisfied knowing that something even more beautiful and lasting is being expressed in my children. My children; my next, best, Cheerio-distributing, runny-nosed, magnificent waltz.

11 years later...
Hannah, my 13-year-old magnificent waltz continues to love Monkey McMoooo, even though Monkey McMoooo mostly sits upside down in the corner of her room. The "waltz's" little sister, Talia, who is 12, just asked me to put our pet fish in a safe place so the cat, Sherman, couldn't eat them. Talia and I rescued Sherman, who is also 12, from the cat shelter where we volunteer. So far, so good, on the legacy. We are rescuing, saving and nurturing all forms of life here in our home. Be it stuffed or living.

I sat down and played the piano yesterday. After which Hannah said "That was pretty Mommy. You should practice that more. Oh, your bangs look good today."

Close enough.


(She didn't need a Kleenex. But I did.)