My husband has been in Texas for a conference for the last five days, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, my children, and my parenting during that time he was away. I learned that I can step-up to challenges and emerge a better, more confident person. Hurtful words from someone I care about taught me that I can turn difficulty into a life lesson of kindness and love for my children. Best of all, I learned that even when I’m all alone, I’m never really completely alone. I have an amazing support system with my family and friends.
In an effort to try to have a lot of fun while he was gone, I got very creative with meals: we had pink pancakes (beet and apple) that Saturday morning, a picnic in the living room that Friday night, and mini-party for a football game on Sunday. We played games over the weekend and generally tried to make a big party out of everything, and somehow I still was able to sneak in some practice. They got to spend a few hours with their great-grandparents while I did some rush grocery shopping before an ice storm, and that proved to be a lot of fun and was helpful in so many ways. Even my daughter’s piano practice was super efficient (don’t ask me how…she’s always so silly when she sits down at the piano, yet she played quite well at her lesson today). I learned that I don’t have to be afraid of doing this wild thing called parenting by myself for an extended period of time, I can turn craziness into a party (except for when they decided to flood the upstairs bathroom while I was on the phone with my dad — that was craziness doing a nosedive). I learned that I can turn fear into motivation, which is a pretty awesome and powerful thing.
I’ve been reading a lot of hype online about Idina Menzel’s “poor” (not my words) live, outdoor performance in NYC on New Year’s Eve. I watched it. There were maybe two times that I could hear some imperfections in an otherwise solid, enthusiastic, and meaningful performance. Did I mention that it was live and outside in NYC?! She was singing a range-testing, vocal-chord busting song in probably 20-degree (F) weather (I’m guessing at the temp — I didn’t see the forecast, but it was nighttime in NYC and cold). That temp alone is hard to even talk in, let alone belt out such a huge piece of music, and she did it admirably! She later mentioned on social media that she doesn’t get every single note right in every single number she ever sings, but that’s not how she measures success. I love her honesty. I can’t, obviously, speak for her, but I measure success in part by my own satisfaction and by the ability to communicate and create “magic” in the eyes (ears) of my listeners. When someone comes up to me after a recital excited by the performance or some aspect of the performance that moved them, touched them, or “wow-ed” them, then I’ve done my job. I gave them a musical experience – even a “mini-vacation,” if you will. I’ve succeeded. Did I get every note correct? Unlikely. But who cares? Does that make me any less a musician? Does that make me any less a person? I’m human. Idina is human. We are all human. We are all perfectly imperfect. Is any professional musician ever 110% happy with a performance? We are all perfectionists trying to achieve something that’s not even possible: perfection. But, take the perfectly imperfect human element out of music, well, then, it’s not real. It’s simply not real. If you look at the faces of the people in the crowd as she was singing, it’s obvious they were moved. It’s obvious they were touched by her performance in some way. She did her job. She succeeded as a musician. Let’s drop the overly critical, imperfection microscope and just relax and let music move you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and touched by music.