Recently we went out to eat as a family. (This in itself is worthy of documenting, but that’s not the story for today.)
Anyway, we were out to eat at a casual steakhouse, the kind where the servers wear little American flags sticking out of their back pockets, the floors are covered in crushed peanut shells, and there is country music playing nonstop, loud enough so that if a toddler decides to exercise his vocal chords no one will really notice.
It was a weeknight and the kids were both in good moods. Liam had never been happier, stuffing fistful after fistful of food in his mouth and shrieking with glee from time to time, as one does. Meredith was asking her usual thousand questions about anything and everything around us, when a specific song came on and all the servers began a line dance. It was halfhearted, obviously they were required to do it and it was an interruption to their work, but Meredith suddenly got quiet and just stared.
The song ended, the servers returned to their tables, and we went back to our steak and burgers.
A few minutes later, country music still blaring, I was focused on getting applesauce into Liam fast enough for his liking when I saw out of the corner of my eye that Meredith was standing in her seat and she – was she really? – yes, she was dancing.
I looked up at her and smiled in delighted encouragement, and she was immediately embarrassed. She stopped, crossed her arms, and pouted. And I thought, when did Meredith stop dancing? I haven’t seen her dance in ages. And then, when did she get so self-conscious about it?
When she was a toddler she danced anytime she heard music. Liam does the same thing now. It’s the most adorable bobbing and hand waving. The very definition of joy. But Meredith doesn’t dance anymore, and you know what? Neither do I.
I’ve never been big into dancing, but I do recall long road trips with my best friend as we drove from Texas to Kansas and back for college where car seat dancing played a big part in our staying awake. I think of New Year’s Eve celebrations with friends where dance parties broke out and I’ve never laughed harder or had more fun. I remember so many wedding receptions where I dragged David out on the floor with me, and even when he was on crutches I’d at least make him slow dance.
There’s something about dancing, isn’t there?
And now I realize with sadness that I hardly ever have music playing at home anymore. When I do turn on something to listen to, it’s privately, and usually it’s a book. No wonder we don’t dance.
Sometimes I think about how my kids will describe me later on, what kind of mother I was. It might be (I hope it is) something like this: she always had chocolate in her purse and a craft in progress. She kept the house very neat but let us make our messes. She was almost always up for a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the park. You can bet she’d bring her book. She left the physical games for Daddy and didn’t tend to get down on the floor to play, but she taught me to cook and to knit and came to every performance and game.
What I want to add to that description is: she laughed a lot. She was carefree and unselfconscious and she loved to turn on music while she cooked and if she felt like dancing right there in the kitchen, she did it.
That night, after we came home from the restaurant, we turned on music. Meredith learned the robot (amazing). We did awkward bobbing and hand waving which was definitely not as cute as when Liam does it. We stayed up too late but man, we haven’t had that much fun on a weeknight in way too long.
Here’s to having more dance parties. To music that makes you want to move. To staying up late sometimes and just having fun.