I stirred the sausage and onions. The shuffle on my iPod picked a Sara Evans song and the opening bars played through my ear buds. I sang along as always, and somewhere in the first verse I lost myself in the song as I always do. My voice rose to hit the high notes and my tone was lovely and strong. I felt pride in my heart, at the talent I possessed in that moment. I said to myself, I could have done that song. My mind raced back to the audition some 15 years ago when I was offered a development deal. It wouldn’t mean a record contract but rather 6 months of development on the road working with a band and writing songs with the goal of recording an album at the end of the road tour. My oldest was 3 then and without even thinking about it I declined on the spot. Leaving him for 6 months was never, ever an option. I left the club, got in my car and cried. I was not disappointed, I did not feel cheated at all, I was thinking of how it would feel leaving a different club every night and missing my sweet boy everyday. I have never regretted not taking that deal for one moment.
It was at that moment when I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass on the microwave over the stove. My hair was pulled back haphazardly in a hair clip, and each unruly hair was pinned in place with about 74 hairpins. Still wearing smudgy glasses, and no make-up I looked down at my wardrobe selection for the day. My husband’s paint stained sweatpants, and an oversized ‘Mall of America’ tee-shirt I slept in last night with a bit of spaghetti sauce on the bottom rounded out the look of harried housewife.
I looked like the most unlikely country music star on the planet. 15 years ago I was a size 4. Now I am a size 14. Then, young men held doors for me because they wanted to impress me, now they do it as a courtesy to a mature woman, and they call me ma’am when I say thank you.
When I took off my headphones, the sound of music continued to ring through the house. I smiled and more tears came to my eyes. This time not from onions but from the talent swirling through my home that was not coming from me.
I climbed the stairs and sat on my oldest sons bed, he’s 18. He was excited to play for me. He counted down and began playing the drums. As he moved a few bars in I saw him close his eyes and his whole body began to experience the music. He was not just playing beats but he was feeling the music and performing. When the song was over he hugged me and I told him how proud I was of him. It was an extremely difficult piece with several fills. He played them very well. He smiled and hugged me again.
I walked across the hall to find my daughter, 13 also practicing. She was at the piano, her guitar propped up beside her. She could not play for me just then, she was composing and writing sheet music.
I told her I didn’t want to break her concentration I just wanted to watch her for a moment. She looked so beautiful. Her hair is the softest thing I know. She always smells like sweet fruit, and I love to hold her and breathe her in. I watched her for a short while doing all the things I could never do, write the music to my songs, and play the guitar and piano.
My youngest, my 8 yr old son, was playing in his room as well but it was Mario Bros. He plays the violin, as a beginner, but hates practicing worse than liver. He has a natural bow hand, excellent form over all, but whether or not he has a passion for this or any instrument remains to be seen. He was happy to be having video game time in the middle of a school day. He shot me a huge smile and asked if time was up. I said no, and asked how his game was going. He gave me lots of details I neither understood nor could follow but I grinned, asked questions and responded enthusiastically so I don’t think he noticed.
I returned to the kitchen to finish the sauce for dinner.
All I could think about was the girl I was all those years ago heading into the parking lot having walked away from the first dream I have ever had in this life, being a singer. A few minutes later I walked in the door and held my son. He squeezed my neck and said I missed you. I said, “I will never miss you”.
I haven’t. I have been here for every moment, I haven’t missed a thing and I have no regrets. There couldn’t be more happiness, more joy, more satisfaction, more love, more passion, more life… more, anything, anywhere else in any other experience for me than in being their mom. Being a mom was my second dream.
I created some beautiful music in my life. But my finest works grew in my body and flowed right out of me into the world. My children are my most beautiful songs. They are recorded in God’s Hall of Fame, in the story of my life. I shudder to think that making a simple choice for myself might have caused me to miss this life, their lives. Their verses may never have been written.
The world does not know me, there is no star with my name on it in Hollywood but to these children I am their whole world. They are God’s glory and as a co-creator with Him in bringing them into the world they are mine too. What achievement could rival that I ask you?
So I am off to stir the sauce, let the dogs in and change out the laundry. In a bit the kids will go to their music lessons and I will sit and pray that God continues to bless and prepare me for this my most important performance.
but I wouldn't have missed this for the world.