One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is instilling in both of my boys a deep appreciation for music. Or maybe I’m taking credit for something beyond me, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I have always loved music. I grew up listening to the top 40, and watching MTV, but starting in my adolescence and continuing through my teenage years, music became something that I felt defined me as a person. It was part of my identity. And not only that – it was also a tool for survival in the most confusing and tumultuous years of my life. For that reason, the music I listened to during those years (hello 90’s alternative) will always hold a very special place in my heart. For all my love and appreciation of music, I have never learned how to play an instrument. I’ve tried learning guitar both as a teenager and again in my 20’s, but just never got the hang of it. Or never could stick with it long enough to get the hang of it. It just did not come naturally to me.
Not only do my boys appreciate music, but they’ve both been blessed with the ability to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. And play it well. One of the greatest joys in my life today is to hear them creating music together. My oldest son plays in and tours with a few different bands, records and mixes his own music, and is committed to making a career out of it. My youngest son plays in the band at school, takes drum lessons, and is a talented marimba player who also dreams of a career in music. Both have been able to travel to different states to play their music in festivals. Both are really very talented and inspire me on a daily basis.
My youngest started taking drum lessons about a year ago and tonight was his first drum recital. I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I walked in to the Nazarene Church this evening where they were holding the recital, but I can tell you that there were a lot more people there than I expected. My husband and I sat down in one of the pews as they finished running through a short rehearsal. What happened next is slightly embarrassing, very strange, but also makes a ton of sense to me if I really think about it. One of the young girls was running through a quick snippet of her song during the rehearsal and I can hardly even explain what came over me, but I literally started crying uncontrollably. As I started to convulse, my husband looked over at me and could hardly process what was going on. He could see I was hysterical, but he couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying, he was utterly confused. I was trying so hard to hold it in. He finally registered that I was crying, and bless his heart, he asked if it was a girl power thing and went and got me some tissue out of the men’s room. He’s also seen me cry at the cross-country meets when the girls come across the finish line. I don’t know exactly what this is, and it really only happens with the girls, but I just start overflowing with emotion. It’s just too big to hold in and I start weeping. It’s not exactly tears of joy, but it’s also not just sadness. It’s like a mixture of both. And that’s exactly what happened to me tonight when I heard that girl drumming her little heart out, sounding like a total badass.
It’s like it hits this part of me, to the core, that regrets SO MUCH how I let my fear stop me from doing so many things I didn’t even allow myself to want to do when I was growing up. It’s like I’m witnessing what could have been if I had just not been so afraid. I’m staring my failed potential in the face. At the same time I’m overwhelmingly grateful to be witnessing these young girls reach for their potential with all the courage I never had.
My youngest son has decided he would like to take a break from his drum lessons over the summer and his instructor has really been encouraging him to stick with it. So, I got to thinking while I was sitting there at the recital tonight that maybe I should just take over his spot and learn how to play the drums myself. Look my potential in the face and this time have the courage to walk through the fear of failure. As the recital went on, I kept thinking and thinking about this. There were a handful of adults that were performing as well. One of the older women who’s been taking lessons for two years played ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele and I was in a puddle of tears again. And I don’t even like Adele (at least not her music – of course I love HER, that salty Brit). But she played it so well. And you could just tell that she loved it. Then another kid would come on and play kinda shitty and I would be like, “nah, I shouldn’t spend the money on drum lessons, that’s a ridiculous idea”. And then someone else would come on and would just kill it and I would reconsider. Then someone would go on that wasn’t really good but looked like they were having a really good time and I’d be all “I’m totally gonna do this”. And it was back and forth like that the whole time. And then at the end, when everyone had played and the show was over, I looked over at my husband and said, I’m gonna take over Caleb’s drum lessons. And he knew I was serious.
And goddamn it you guys, I talked to his instructor after the recital and told him that Caleb decided he really wants to take a break from lessons, but here’s a crazy idea….I’ve wanted to learn how to play the drums and would it work for me to take over his time slot on Tuesdays? He looked surprised. Like that was pretty much the last thing in the world he expected me to be saying. Do you have any experience? he asked. Nope. You know how to read music, or play the piano or anything? Nope, not a thing. I know absolutely nothing. Okay, he says, we’ll get you started.
See you Tuesday drum instructor. I’m ready to start. And maybe next year, I’ll be playing in that recital and Caleb will be watching me. Maybe he’ll take note that it’s never too late to learn something new. Maybe he’ll notice that his mom had a little courage.