{Practices of Parenting Carnival} In Which I Believe in Family Dance Parties

EmergingMummy.com

My family had one living area in our three bedroom ranch house. It had a shiny brick bench in front of the fireplace. It was a perfect place for a stage and served as one pretty faithfully for this girl obsessed with her own performance skills. Most of my best moves were done while I happened to be alone in that living room, Amy Grant’s newest cassette on the tape deck and my back to the audience, arms rising at my sides, hands jazz-spread. I only turned around to sing the words at the last possible moment, “Angels Watching Over Me!” belted to the couch full of stuffed animals.

By that point, I was alone in my performances. I was the youngest and my brothers–three and five years my seniors–had long moved on to the more important things that 12-year-olds and 15-year-olds think about. But, long before my solo career, we performed as a trio, late (at least it felt late to me) Saturday nights, with Mickey Mouse Disco on the record player, my parents moving around us for what felt like the entire record: just us dancing and laughing and singing at the top of our lungs. It was 1984 or 1985 and I was five. My brothers were heroes even then, skinny goofballs with dances I’d never seen before (they’d learned them at school, no doubt). I was mesmerized by those boys, but we were still equals in our shared home, raised one at a time onto our father’s shoulders while my mother gasped in fear. And running from one side of that room to the other where a pile of pillows and blankets made for a perfect diving pit.

That’s what I think about when my boys are cozied into their jammies, the baby scooting along the coffee table in his little footies, the preschooler running from the door to the carpet for a knee slide (how does every boy instinctively know how to knee slide from the moment he turns three?).

See, I’m imperfect. And, even more shockingly, my husband is not quite perfection either. And there are days when all I’ve been is the worst version of myself: snappy and frustrated and envious of all the people in the world who have perfect children (it’s only on those days that I think perfect children exist somewhere). I have yelled when I didn’t want to. I’ve cried on the toilet. I’ve eaten an entire bar of dark chocolate during nap time. And I’ve found myself rolling my eyes at the pile of laundry as if it’s the laundry’s fault for existing.

It’s on those days that I absolutely must turn on the music after bellies are fed and teeth are brushed. I know, you’re not supposed to rile your kids up before bed. I know, it’s supposed to be time for quiet and gentle nudging toward sleep. But, sometimes, your husband gets home from work and you stuff pasta into everybody’s bellies and you find yourself sitting on your bed asking God to remind you that your life is the most beautiful of all: That your life is a miracle of grace. That these children came from your body…but before that, they were secrets in the heart of God. That your husband just showed up that night in Ithaca, New York. He just showed up at that random house you visited with your barely-friends before the acapella concert and he walked with you up the road, in the dark, both of you bundled under sweaters in November night. And in that reminder of grace: your body sitting on the bed is filled magically with light, as if you were finally your true self for the first time that day. The boys are whining in the bathroom, getting their teeth brushed by that man you loved first that night in 2002 and now you see him scrubbling their teeth, his eyes older, his jaw stronger and better than before and you know it’s time.

There’s only one thing to do:

Find the Katy Perry Pandora station. Hit play. That’s when August runs from across the room and dives and you dive with him. That’s when Brooksie rides on your husband’s shoulders and you gasp a little and then release your breath and out of your mouth comes all the lies you believed that day: about your worth, about what’s lacking.

And here, right here, this moment, when Usher is singing about the dance floor and the baby is squealing, you recognize the truth. And you spin in it holding your son and you both laugh because all is forgiven; all is new.

Linking up with one of my very favorites Sarah Bessey at Emerging Mummy for the “Practices of Parenting Carnival.” (And using her signature, “In Which…” style in her honor.) You should link up too!
  • elissa97211

    Yay, dance parties. I want to have a dance party with all of you please.

  • http://agoodmeasure.net Sarah Park

    Oh, this is beautiful. I believe in family dance parties, too. And the knee slide… that made me laugh—I’m working on a poem that features a knee slide. :)

    It’s amazing how easy it is to go a whole day without that necessary—exhalation.

  • http://agoodmeasure.net Sarah Park

    Oh, this is beautiful. I believe in family dance parties, too. And the knee slide… that made me laugh—I’m working on a poem that features a knee slide. :)

    It’s amazing how easy it is to go a whole day without that necessary—exhalation.

  • http://inhisrest.com Angie

    I read yours first because the title resonated with my own link-up “Celebrate Good Times”. Dancing makes life fun even if I am not very good at it.

  • http://inhisrest.com Angie

    I read yours first because the title resonated with my own link-up “Celebrate Good Times”. Dancing makes life fun even if I am not very good at it.

  • http://www.jasonboyett.com Jason Boyett

    I don’t mind that you outed us as skinny goofballs who danced in the living room in the mid-80s. But did you have to tell people it was to “Disco Mickey Mouse”? I’m pretty sure that album wasn’t cool as early as 1978.

    • http://twitter.com/sarahbessey Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey)

      What? Blasphemy! It is totally too cool for school.

      • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

        I’m with Sarah on this one. What could be cooler than “Macho Macho Duck!”? Jason’s just sensitive because if we were dancing to Disco Mickey Mouse in 1985, that would put him at 10-years-old…and he’s wishing he were more awesome than disco by that point

  • http://www.jasonboyett.com Jason Boyett

    I don’t mind that you outed us as skinny goofballs who danced in the living room in the mid-80s. But did you have to tell people it was to “Disco Mickey Mouse”? I’m pretty sure that album wasn’t cool as early as 1978.

    • http://twitter.com/sarahbessey Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey)

      What? Blasphemy! It is totally too cool for school.

      • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

        I’m with Sarah on this one. What could be cooler than “Macho Macho Duck!”? Jason’s just sensitive because if we were dancing to Disco Mickey Mouse in 1985, that would put him at 10-years-old…and he’s wishing he were more awesome than disco by that point

  • http://dadscancooktoo.com Nathan R.

    Great post and I can totally relate. I live in Ithaca, it’s a great place to live. Do you ever come back to visit?

  • http://dadscancooktoo.com Nathan R.

    Great post and I can totally relate. I live in Ithaca, it’s a great place to live. Do you ever come back to visit?

  • http://www.pohlkottepress.blogspot.com tara // pohlkottepress

    um…yes.yes.yes!!! We do the same thing at this house. in fact a quote I said to my husband just yesterday was “today has been full of step touches and jazz hands”. He just looked at my blankly {not sharing the need to dance genes that the rest of us got}. I wrote a little about this too in my parenting post. It’s kinda one of the only things i know I’m doing for sure right. :)

  • http://www.pohlkottepress.blogspot.com tara // pohlkottepress

    um…yes.yes.yes!!! We do the same thing at this house. in fact a quote I said to my husband just yesterday was “today has been full of step touches and jazz hands”. He just looked at my blankly {not sharing the need to dance genes that the rest of us got}. I wrote a little about this too in my parenting post. It’s kinda one of the only things i know I’m doing for sure right. :)

  • http://lulastic.wordpress.com lulastic

    The first time my daughter laughed was during a family dance party! I will remember it FOREVER, it was the most irresistable gurgle of joy from a 10 week old baby.
    You’ve definitely inspired me to institute these!

  • http://retrospectphotography.wordpress.com Retrospect Photography | Stephanie Strauss Hall

    Amen on the Dance Party! Our family has been known to have waffle dinner night ending with a Michael Jackson dance party. Some Saturday mornings it’s all about a mellow Jack Johnson and Diana Krall crooning in the background to an eggs and bacon breakfast.

  • http://retrospectphotography.wordpress.com Retrospect Photography | Stephanie Strauss Hall

    Amen on the Dance Party! Our family has been known to have waffle dinner night ending with a Michael Jackson dance party. Some Saturday mornings it’s all about a mellow Jack Johnson and Diana Krall crooning in the background to an eggs and bacon breakfast.

  • mkk

    Absolutely love dance parties with the babies. They love it too! Thank you for the reminder that it is sacred and healing especially at the end of a long day.

  • mkk

    Absolutely love dance parties with the babies. They love it too! Thank you for the reminder that it is sacred and healing especially at the end of a long day.

  • http://www.the-lifeartist.com the life artist

    oh YES!!! we love our dance parties too!!! rock on!!! :)

  • http://www.the-lifeartist.com the life artist

    oh YES!!! we love our dance parties too!!! rock on!!! :)

  • Anne

    I LOVE this line:
    That these children came from your body…but before that, they were secrets in the heart of God.
    Probably because I’m pregnant, but I just think that is beautiful!
    You have a sister in dance parties here.

  • Anne

    I LOVE this line:
    That these children came from your body…but before that, they were secrets in the heart of God.
    Probably because I’m pregnant, but I just think that is beautiful!
    You have a sister in dance parties here.

  • http://leannepenny.wordpress.com leannepenny

    I pushed the reset button to Dynamite by Taio Cruz this very morning. It’s a good jam for our fam ;-)

  • Missa

    Once upon a time, it was dance parties in our house. Now, we crank up the tunes and run laps. Indoors. Sprints and footraces between a 4 year old, 2 year old, and Mommy. Totally love that having a good soundtrack is universal!

    I still have my Mickey Mouse Disco and recently unleashed its awesomeness on my darlings. Also still have my Sesame Street “Love” album and a myriad of Star Wars and disney fairy tales on record. Hurrah for being a child of the early 80′s!

  • Missa

    Once upon a time, it was dance parties in our house. Now, we crank up the tunes and run laps. Indoors. Sprints and footraces between a 4 year old, 2 year old, and Mommy. Totally love that having a good soundtrack is universal!

    I still have my Mickey Mouse Disco and recently unleashed its awesomeness on my darlings. Also still have my Sesame Street “Love” album and a myriad of Star Wars and disney fairy tales on record. Hurrah for being a child of the early 80′s!

  • Lauren O’Connell

    o my, o my how i needed this today. ‘you gasp a little and then release your breath and out of your mouth comes all the lies you believed that day: about your worth, about what’s lacking.’ i think we’ll be starting tomorrow with a breakfast dance party. thanks!

  • Lauren O’Connell

    o my, o my how i needed this today. ‘you gasp a little and then release your breath and out of your mouth comes all the lies you believed that day: about your worth, about what’s lacking.’ i think we’ll be starting tomorrow with a breakfast dance party. thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/sarahbessey Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey)

    I love this so, so much, Micha. We totally do this, too. I loved this line —> “And here, right here, this moment, when Usher is singing about the dance floor and the baby is squealing, you recognize the truth. And you spin in it holding your son and you both laugh because all is forgiven; all is new.” Amen and amen.

  • http://twitter.com/sarahbessey Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey)

    I love this so, so much, Micha. We totally do this, too. I loved this line —> “And here, right here, this moment, when Usher is singing about the dance floor and the baby is squealing, you recognize the truth. And you spin in it holding your son and you both laugh because all is forgiven; all is new.” Amen and amen.

  • http://dramaticelegance.blogspot.com Rachel

    this is one of the things i ACHE to do with my coming little one. we already do it, in a way. when the Husband comes home from work and wraps his arms around me and hits the switch on the iPod and we dance in the kitchen with hands on my stomach.

    and then we leap around like fools to Michael Jackson, and laugh so loud. and i cannot wait to bring this tiny one into the circle.

    “and you spin in it holding your son and you both laugh because all is forgiven; all is new.” YES.

  • http://dramaticelegance.blogspot.com Rachel

    this is one of the things i ACHE to do with my coming little one. we already do it, in a way. when the Husband comes home from work and wraps his arms around me and hits the switch on the iPod and we dance in the kitchen with hands on my stomach.

    and then we leap around like fools to Michael Jackson, and laugh so loud. and i cannot wait to bring this tiny one into the circle.

    “and you spin in it holding your son and you both laugh because all is forgiven; all is new.” YES.

  • julie

    this is such a beautiful post. love the idea of family dance parties

  • julie

    this is such a beautiful post. love the idea of family dance parties

  • Cara

    Oh how I love this, because we do it too – post-dinner dance parties/family jam sessions are amazing. Our 3.5 year okd’s favorite is The Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night” – yes, yes it is.

  • Cara

    Oh how I love this, because we do it too – post-dinner dance parties/family jam sessions are amazing. Our 3.5 year okd’s favorite is The Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night” – yes, yes it is.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Wow. Something else I never thought to do when I was mothering. This sounds like such fun – and who cares if it wakes the babies up a little at bed time. They’ll sleep the sounder for all that exercise. Lovely, Micha. Thank you.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Wow. Something else I never thought to do when I was mothering. This sounds like such fun – and who cares if it wakes the babies up a little at bed time. They’ll sleep the sounder for all that exercise. Lovely, Micha. Thank you.

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  • http://expectinghope.blogspot.com Suzanne

    I very nearly wrote this very practice for my link. Something magical, nay, something holy, takes place when my family dances together. Even if you have to dive across the room to skip that song that you’d just as soon the littles not sing in church later.

  • http://expectinghope.blogspot.com Suzanne

    I very nearly wrote this very practice for my link. Something magical, nay, something holy, takes place when my family dances together. Even if you have to dive across the room to skip that song that you’d just as soon the littles not sing in church later.


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