My daughter Ashley was asked to play a piano solo for the whole school in junior high. She worked hard and prepared well for her debut by memorizing a song that was both beautiful and entertaining. I was sitting in the audience that day when she walked up on stage and sat down on the bench ready to begin. Because I am her mother I noticed all the color drained from her face. She was scared but she took a deep breath and began.
She played the first section of the song remarkably well. I noticed that each time she would get to the beginning of the second part of the song, her mind would go blank. Without batting an eye she simply started over. This happened three or four times. What Ashley didn’t know was that she and I were the only ones in the whole auditorium that knew there was a second part of the song.
Ashley finally finished and walked off stage. I met her in a corner of the school hallway. She was mortified, certain she had flubbed up big time in front of all her peers.
“Ashley, it sounded wonderful,” I told her.
She didn’t believe me. She knew what the song was supposed to sound like and was certain she had failed in her performance.
During the rest of the school day Ashley was surprised when many of her peers expressed sincere admiration for her solo. They told her the song was awesome and envied her talent. Ashley finally realized that by playing the melody three or four times it sounded like she had played a complete song. She was the only one who knew how much better she wanted to perform.
Mothers are like that. We know how much we want to demonstrate our love for our children but often fall short of our own unrealistic expectations. We feel inadequate when we lose our patience, forget to pick up a child after gymnastics, neglect to sign up as room mother or have say no when asked to baby sit a grandchild. What we don’t realize is that if we keep the melody going, everything will work out. The melody is love.
It doesn’t matter if our homes look like a page right out of Better Homes and Gardens. It doesn’t matter if we’ve put on a few extra pounds. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have our children involved up to their eyeballs in every extra curricular activity. It does matter if we take the time to truly enjoy and love our children and grandchildren in the moment – for the moment passes.
I’m often asked to play the piano at church. Because I’m asked to play extemporaneously, I’ve had to develop a skill I refer to as sight-reader neglect. This means I choose which notes not to play with my left hand so I can keep the melody going with my right hand. The congregation can’t tell the difference. I have learned to accept the fact that I can’t play every note in every chord every time.
As mothers we also have to learn commitment neglect. We have to be able to say, “I choose not to wash the windows. I choose not to sign up my child for soccer.” We can’t do everything and keep everybody happy all the time. Over-committed and over-scheduled mothers don’t have enough time to take an unhurried stroll in the evenings.
Once we understand that love is the melody, we can choose our activities and commitments more wisely. God is the only one in the audience who should really matter. When we truly love ourselves and our families, God will conduct our lives, lead us to inner harmony and compose a personal masterpiece with our souls.