Thursday, February 13, 2014


The audience is expectant. The first notes play. The curtain rises. The dancer nervously waits. 

At the side in the wings, heavy black velvet curtains stretch from ceiling to floor. The hidden dancer, though ready, quietly marks the choreography one last time. A final rehearsal. A final remembrance of each breath. She pauses, listening to music that has become a part of her, waiting for the note that cues her entrance.

Countless hours in studio. Months of rehearsal. All of it in preparation for this: the performance.

And then in what seems but a breath, it’s over.

The closing curtain. The final applause. A black, velvet line separating past from present, preparation from performance.

A baby is born; the curtain is pressed aside; the family spills into the room, joyful, thankful; motherhood begins.

 Motherhood: a dance with soaring highs and quiet lows, with joys and sorrows alike. We dance to the music and, when we listen carefully, the subtle quiet always leads to rousing crescendo.

But we’ve got it all wrong if we think the crescendo is the most important part.

In motherhood, there is no watching audience, no applause for the sweet moments of success. In motherhood, there is no black line separating forgotten rehearsal from moments that matter most. All we know is that the curtain has gone up and one day the curtain will fall and, when we look back on all the moments in between, we don’t want to carry the regret of wasted time.

We watch, listen, and learn from those who have gone before us. These women are our teachers, and they've taught us well. But though we've heard their words and know it’s the ordinary moments that matter most, we still sometimes miss them altogether because we dance like we’re still marking it in the wings.

The ordinary days--this is it. This is life’s choreography, and we only get to perform it once. Am I dancing full out? Or am I marking it in the wings while the dance of my life--the dance that is life--is passing me by? 

I have some friends who do this thing called motherhood so incredibly well. They would say it isn’t so, that they struggle along in jerky movements like everyone else. But I watch them love their little ones and they move with an effortless, natural grace. It’s like they were born to do this. I surround myself with mothers like these. I watch them. I learn from them. I write about them. And then I go home and I practice and pray because I want to move like them.

You’ve seen these mothers, too.

They’re the ones who care more about enjoying the walk home than getting quickly into the house.

They’re the ones who realize that it’s not ultimately about getting their kids to read, but about how they encourage and teach them during the process.

They’re the ones who aren’t in a mad rush to hurriedly fix every conflict between siblings because they realize the value in teaching their children how to resolve conflict without sin.

They’re the ones who don’t hurry through bedtime stories and goodnight rituals because they know that sleepy conversations are among the most precious they’ll ever have.

These things—these little, everyday things—this is the dance of motherhood.

Quiet notes, quiet love, in quiet moments.

The curtain doesn’t rise on our kids’ first day of kindergarten or when they’ve finally grasped how to read or when they’re graduating from college or on their wedding day. The big moments are sweet, for sure, and should bring deep thanks. But it’s all the little moments in between that make up life's dance. 

A few days back I was at the baby shower for one of my best friends. Before we prayed together, we stood around the mother-to-be and my friend’s mom spoke familiar words to her daughter, to all the young women around her:
"If I could go back in time, I would go back to when they were little so I could just hold them one more time."
Am I listening to the music? Am I slowing long enough and fully enough to really hold my little ones yet small enough to be held?  

The curtain is up but in a breath it will fall. The dance of life—it’s happening right now.