Sunday Post 112: Facing My Nemesis

When you go through a major loss, simple things can become significant challenges.  For me, weekends, especially Saturday nights, became my nemesis.  I could face Monday through Friday with work and the kids’ school schedule.  I was busy, on the go.  I’d get home, feed the kids, help with homework, put them to bed and the exercise – maybe hit the sack at midnight or 1.  It was manageable.  But the thought of a full day, or worse the entire weekend, with the possibility of time that wasn’t crammed full of activity was overwhelming.

I feared the pain I’d experience if I stopped.  When my mind wasn’t maxed out, when my hands weren’t busy, the grief set in.

Saturday nights had been our nights.  Lisa and I would plan time with other families or get a sitter and have a nice dinner out, just the two of us.

It was my favorite time with her, sitting in a booth at a nice restaurant.  A couple of glasses of red wine, good food.  Our opportunity to talk about work, the kids and maybe more importantly, our dreams.

If I didnt’ have plans on a Saturday night, plans that included other adults, I went into a tailspin.  Sadness set in.  I became consumed with my lack of social activities.  I watched Jesse head out with his friends while I sat home watching the Disney channel with Michelle.

For the first time in my life, I dreaded the weekend.  What had been my favorite day of the week had become my enemy.  I feared the sixth day.

Last weekend, Michelle had a sleepover, and DJ had plans too.  Earlier in the week I asked Stephanie what she’d like to do on Saturday, that it was just be the two of us.  Her eyes got big, “Dad, can we go see a movie together?”

“Sure baby!  We’ll grab dinner too.”

As we walked through the open sidewalk on our way out of the movie Saturday night, we began playing our favorite outdoor game, Step on the crack and you break your (in our case) grandmother’s back.  Our hands were locked as I worked to force her  onto the lines that connected the concrete slabs.  A security guard at the mall gave me a huge smile and waved his hand as an encouraging gesture.

I smiled back, and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore.  I wasn’t consumed with my weekend plans.  I wasn’t obsessed with over planning my down time.  I could actually just hang around the house, enjoying some down time, doing some things that I wanted to do.  I was content to just be.

At that moment, there was nothing I would have rather been doing than holding hands with my 12-year-old and enjoying that time with her.

It took three years and nearly 150 Saturdays to get here.  But I’ve beat him – that obstacle is behind me.

I’ll Make A Man Out Of You

I almost talked myself out of trying out for Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol this year.  Although it is a ton of fun, it’s a whole lot of work too.  It takes some people years to learn to waltz like I did last year.

I’ll have to say that I got caught up in my kids’ full and utter excitement about the potential of performing again.  But more than being on stage, reconnecting with their play buddies.

My hesitancy began with my incredible fear of being judged.  If they would have just mailed me an invitation inviting me to rejoin the cast, the decision would have been much easier.  But no, they make you work for it.

Each of us had to prepare a solo to sing in front of a friendly, yet ominous, panel of judges.  Michelle and Stephanie went with Disney favorties, Zip-a-dee-do-dah from The Jungle Book and Part of that World from The Little Mermaid.  DJ sang a hymn she learned last spring when a group of former cast members gathered to perform at a rest home.

I pondered a plethora of melodies.  Perhaps I’d go with an Elvis tune – maybe a thrust of the pelvis would sway the mainly female judging panel.  Johnny Cash is a favorite, but I don’t own a black shirt, and I wasn’t investing in clothing without assurance that I was going to be chosen.  I considered I’m Bad by Micheal Jackson, but I couldn’t figure out what he said after “I’m bad, I’m bad.”  Is it jamone?  What does that mean, jamone?  That doesn’t make sense – “I’m bad, I’m bad, jamone…”

No, I needed something I could clearly enunciate.  The choral director of the play is all about articulation – something about wanting the audience to be able to understand what we’re singing.  Clearly the King of Pop did not study under her.

Finally, after much strife, I landed on a favorite from Mulan.  It’s another Disney movie about a Chinese woman who is supposed to get married and honor her family by having babies and staying at home.  Instead she dresses up like a man and goes to war – oh, and incidentally, she saves the entire country.  The song is entitled I’ll Make a Man Out of You, and the commander of Mulan’s army sang it when he cast his eyes on his pathetic new recruits.

Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns.

Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?

You’re the saddest bunch I ever met,

But you can bet before we’re through,

I’ll make a man out of you.

I can’t quite figure out why that song resonated with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade a daughter for a son.  Nah, I’m very happy with an all female Tanner cast.  But, there are times, you know, that I might want them to act a bit more like a man.  A little dose of suck it up.

So we sang.  No one cried at tryouts like last year.  No one passed out.  There was no vomit, although I was so nervous it wasn’t past the realm of possibility.

They video the tryouts, wouldn’t that have been a nice thing to catch on tape?  I wonder where that video is…

I believe we all did fairly well.  And like last year, I was by far the least talented in our clan.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

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