I was told to act surprised when I got home. Having received several texts and pictures and videos during the day of them rehearsing, I knew I was in for a bang up production of The Bubby and Bebe Show.
I told Nikki* no way was I acting surprised.
My boy had begged to put on The Bubby and Bebe Show all afternoon, even tried desperately to delay naps so they could rehearse. Nikki wasn’t buying what he was selling, so they got to work upon waking.
They tend to stage all performances of this magnitude in their bedroom, as there’s a small cabinet that they can hide behind and make their grand entrance under the spotlights. As I walked in the front door, Nikki came out to say they were taking a break because they’d been rehearsing and they were getting hot. But they were ready now.
I had my camera ready because what good stage mom doesn’t, right? And their dad had to see this. I’m really good at video taping and watching and cheering and laughing and crying all at once. I don’t miss a thing.
Let’s put on a show!
They entered stage left and dramatically lingered near the back of the stage. Leaving some mystery to how the show would progress. Making us wait for it. She in her purple fairy wings, tutu, and Cubs Santa hat and he in his full Woody vest, hat, and bandana. He playing drums and she shaking maracas, Jingle Bells was first up. A very drawn out version, I might add, thanks to the Chairman of the Board.
Itsy Bitsy Spider was next up with choreography that included, you guessed it, a spider! And the ABC’s rounded it all out so nicely.
Nikki had a playlist on the computer and sat in the back manning the music, giving cues and trying to get them to remain on the stage instead of running out to the audience for hugs.
When it was over they asked to do it again and of course we said yes because HOW CAN YOU NOT?
It was the best show I’ve ever seen.
The thing about these shows is how seriously they take it. These two have actors – directors – theatre folk for parents. GODS HELP THEM. If not for theatre, my husband and I wouldn’t even be together in the first place.
I said to Nikki, “Can you even imagine them in their little school performances?” And we both broke down into terrible fits and giggles. That happens a lot with us. These kids, man.
The way they put it all out there without a thought or a care as to how it comes across, only knowing they are expressing themselves through dance and song and costumes and providing entertainment for us. They want us to enjoy them. And oh how we do enjoy them. So vulnerable. So wide open. I want to bottle it as with every year that vulnerability gets harder to access. More elusive. More nailed away in a box by the world adding onto our heavy loads. Until we are adults and can practice getting to that place again. Stripping it all down to just enjoyment and openness without care of reaction.
My Boss came back to work today for the first time after having major surgery and I cried when I saw him. In his suit and tie and carrying his close to empty briefcase because he’s not supposed to lift anything, I cried. I told myself I wouldn’t, but I did.
I’ve seen him, at home, while recovering, with his dogs and his family and in his casual clothes. These big strong men in our lives, these giants. When they are vulnerable, it shakes us all.
As he walked in he winked and smiled because we know. We know how lucky we both are. We know what is most important. We have both learned to be vulnerable.
Today he had his costume back on. He had his make up and his lines all memorized. And I cried. Because on some level he needs all this to feel whole. As do I. We kvell in our work. We thrive on the pageantry of it all. The routine, the organization out of chaos, the helping others find solutions to their problems. The doing a hard days work for an honest salary.
Let’s put on a show!
At work, at school, on the train, walking down the street. We all do it. Whether it’s an Oscar worthy performance or barely enough to get noticed by the critics, we all do it.
If we are really really lucky, when we enter our door (home, 12-step meeting, church, etc.) at the end of the day, we can stop the act. We can change out of our costumes and let our hair down. We can wipe the make up off and not get flustered when we forget our lines.
Now, I know, we need to feel all the feelings and act accordingly and NO you shouldn’t have to act like everything is ok all the time when it isn’t, but it’s part of living in a society to act as if. To fake it til you make it. HOME. Or to a safe space where you can blow off some steam.
Part of what got me in a lot of trouble as a younger person was just shooting off my mouth and now I’ve learned to pause. To continue with the show until intermission. And then at the end, to bow and accept the applause and flowers and go get cheesecake and coffees and THEN really shoot the shit. HOME.
We don’t have to say we are fine when we aren’t fine. We don’t have to pretend everything is ok. We yell and cry and laugh and tease. We are with our people. If we are really really lucky, we are with our people. No matter where we are.
But we need to be careful with ourselves. We need to protect our vulnerability the way we would our kids. Our most cherished people’s. Our much appreciated Bosses.
Sometimes a complete stranger needs it more than anybody else. Our openness and understanding. Are you ready? You won’t get a huge pat on the back or internet fame or even a thank you, but still. Are you ready? Are you open?
I will always be the one who cries at inappropriate times and expresses way more gratitude and love and encouragement and thanks than is required by the situation. I just will be. And I’m ok with that. If I’m a messy sentimental slob, so be it. I don’t ever want to put on such a show that I am indifferent. I can pick and choose today. I have a little bit of control over my emotions.
I’ve lived in homes where I wasn’t at home. I’ve lived through situations where my guard was never down. There were decades where I swore I was much more comfortable up on a stage instead of in real life. Today, that has all changed. I am comfortable in my own skin and leave the performing on a stage to others better suited for it. I’ll stick to my real life and be grateful for all it’s everyday miracles.
We are safe here. We are safe here. We are safe here. May we all find our people and place where we can feel safe. May we all provide that space to our most cherished and even those not so cherished. We all need love, we all need safety. So much hate and fear could be quelled if we all just felt safe and loved and at home.