It is the most profound experience I have ever had; the birth of my first child. The moment I give birth, a feeling of euphoria overcomes me as I actually have her. I begin to cry when the nurse hands me my daughter, as I cradle her next to me…my life with Michelle…begins.
When my daughter Michelle turned 10 years old, I remember her looking at me and saying, “Mommy, I’ll never see single digits again!” She really said that to me! A very bright young child, she continually amazes me with her wisdom and insight. Michelle always so motivated to excel.
Michelle and I have always had a very close relationship:
When Michelle cries, I cry.
When Michelle laughs, I laugh.
When Michelle hurts, I hurt.
I often saw myself again as a child through my daughters’ eyes.
But when Michelle was 11, she and I had an unexpected growing experience. Michelle had been taking piano for about five years at the time. As you can imagine she has become quite a little musician. It had been exciting to see her grow from a novice player in kindergarten to a talented piano player in the fourth grade. Michelle’s piano teacher, Juliette, had her students participate in piano recitals about every six months. And now it was time for another recital for Michelle.
The piece Michelle practiced to play for this recital was called “A Friendly Conversation.” It is a beautiful classical piece and quite difficult. Of course she memorized it in a few weeks before the big day.
At the recital, there were 20 children that were to play. Michelle was 17th on the agenda. She sat next to me and I could feel her nervousness. I was as nervous as she – waiting through 16 people playing piano, each of them almost perfectly completing their piece.
Now it’s Michelle’s turn as she walks up, gracefully sits down, takes a deep breath and then begins. I see her face, her concentration. I smile as she begins to play her “Friendly Conversation.” A piano piece that requires using most of the keyboard. She is now halfway through the piece. A critical juncture not only in the mood of the piece but also a major change of the hand placement. She misses the note, she tries again, she misses it again…she tries to skip the note but her heartbeat skips instead and she misses the next cord. I watch her face as it turns red. She tries another cord and misses it. Her body tenses…I feel the panic rise in her. I can practically hear her talking to herself saying, “Where am I, where am I, I wish I wasn’t here.” Finally, Michelle recovers. She continues from the middle of the piece…and plays with such determination, such strength, such feeling that people in the audience can feel the conversation. The ending is so steady yet so powerful. The clapping begins. Michelle’s heart still racing from her experience as she stands, looks out at the audience and bows. She walks off the stage as the audience is still clapping for her as she sits next to me.
I smile but say nothing, she says nothing to me. I can just hear her inner voices say, “Get me out of here, Get me out of here.” I have to let her experience these feelings without me getting in the way. Yet I am so proud of her. I am so proud she didn’t leave that piano in the middle of her piece. I am so proud that she didn’t give up. I am so proud of her strength.
Michelle didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. At the end of the night, as I am putting her to bed, I ask her if she wants to talk…she says no. Yet as I’m getting ready to leave her room she says…”I’m not happy with how I did today Mommy.” I looked back and she says…”But I know that piece mommy, I know how to play it.” I told her “I know honey, I know you do.” She smiles slightly and closes her eyes to end her day.
Michelle experienced failure of a kind that we all experience at one time or another. It was lonely up there on that stage and there was absolutely nothing I could do for her. She had to get through that herself. It was so wrenchingly emotional but when it was over we were both stronger for it.
Michelle teaches me things now, but I’ll keep that for another story! It’s been a pleasure and a wonder to see her grow into what she is today…and it will be more of a pleasure to see what she will become as my life with Michelle continues.