As we sat watching the motorboats jet by the stage, I was torn between watching the thrilling stunts and watching my children's faces.
As one water skier flew over the jump and did a spin in the air, Aaron's eyes got big and round, "Whoa! I've gotta try that sometime!"
As the lovely ladies skimmed across the water poised on one leg in an arabesque with their raised leg looped through the tow line, Norah's smile spread from ear to ear. I could almost hear her thinking, "Ooohhh, something else I could do in a leotard."
As the water skiing pyramid glided past, Ashley smiled past the thumb she was sucking on. Her eyes lit up ... "Hmmm ... that's taking cheerleading to a whole new level."
As the roar of the jet boat roared around the river in an oval, spraying water in its wake, Lydia covered her ears and grinned. "Loud!" Liddy likes loud.
Each aspect of the performance grabbed my children's attention. Whether it was the danger or the glitter or the noise, they were riveted to the "stage". The magic of this event captured them.
Unfortunately, as I've grown into adulthood, some of that magic has lost its sparkle. While I am still in awe of the feats of daring that we watched ... no one I know would fling themselves over a jump set aflame ... I was also aware of the overly-scripted monologue of the ringleader and the "oops, we missed the boat" cover-up by the performers.
While it truly was a well-done show, it was just that. A show.
I was also struck by sense that while this show is celebrating 60 years of "Livin' the Dream" ... not much has changed in those 60 years. Of course, there are fresh and young entertainers, but they are performing many of the same stunts that performers 60 years ago debuted. There might be more bling, more flashiness and more splash, but essentially not much has changed over the course of this show's life. Day after day ... show after show ... splash after splash.
It was an exciting show for us, but I had to wonder if the magic has been lost for the performers.
Isn't that the way with life?
As a kid, my future was dazzling. What would I do? Who would I marry? Where would I live? All magical possibilities.
Now as an adult, those BIG decisions have been made. I'm a mom. I'm married to Brett. I live in the desert. And some days are a little low on the sparkle-factor. My life can feel a bit like a show that just goes on and on ... and on and on.
The same "stunts":
Watch as Mom makes dinner (again) while keeping the youngest from terrorizing the others by allowing her to "help" in the kitchen. She is boiling a pot of pasta and trying to cut up vegetables without putting her toddler in danger but at the same time keeping her contained. Can she do it? ... Yes! She did it! And the pasta didn't boil over!
The same "daring feats":
Now Mom will attempt to go to Wal-Mart with all four of her children ... and come out without anything that isn't on her list. Watch carefully ... she's nearing the check-out line ... she's almost there ... Ooooh! She buckled! She said, "yes", to a pack of gum. She was so close! Better luck next time!
The same "daredevil attempts":
For the grand finale, Mom intends ... to make a phone call. She has made a quick survey of the home and it would appear that all the children are occupied which should ensure a successful performance. Look at that focus. She's dialing the number. She's waiting for an answer. Uh-oh ... did you hear that? Someone is calling for her from the living room. She darts around the corner into the kitchen. Someone answers on the other line ... she exchanges a few pleasantries, but she looks worried. And for good reason ... the children are headed her way! They are all talking. That little one is banging on her leg! She's cornered against the stove! What is she going to do?! She's trying to hold on, trying to listen and respond, trying to make her way out of the kitchen ... she did it! She has escaped to the bathroom! Well done! Such suspense!
Yeah ... I can't imagine much of a crowd paying for a ticket to watch that! :) But it's true. So painfully true. Unless ...
If I make it a point to see my life as mom, wife and desert-dweller not just as a wing-and-a-prayer performance, but as a carefully orchestrated and significant existence, my perspective is utterly transformed.
No longer do I see my attempts to keep Lydia contained as an endless trial, but as an opportunity to study and train up my little girl.
No longer do I see my repeated trips to Wal-Mart as agonizing, but as teachable moments to model good manners, cheerfulness and self-control.
No longer do I see my challenging phone calls as frustrating, but as occasions to remind my children of respect, boundaries and patience.
Of course, I still find myself frazzled, frustrated and fried, but I don't have to settle for that. With God's help, He is guiding me to be more the mom He wants me to be and giving me the opportunity to re-capture some of the magic of motherhood. It is a comfort to know that I'm not on my own in my parenting. According to Isaiah 40:11, God is gently leading me along as I navigate this role as Mom.
I don't want to just go through the motions of mommying with the hopes of wowing the crowd! And I don't want to lose the magic of having front row seats to the adventure-filled lives of my kids.
Here's to 60 years of me "Livin' the Dream" and parenting my kids with bravery and grace ... and hopefully a little bit of sparkle!