Dear Daughter Heartache,
You are the moment that I have been waiting for--or rather, have not wanted to ever occur--for the last five years. And so the story begins, from the heartache of a grief-stricken mama...
I have often joked about going to Dear Daughter's violin performances with extra antiperspirant and anti-anxiety med. Except I wasn't joking. DD has a personality that can be an enemy to herself. Dear Husband and I never wanted her to perform well so that we can feel proud of her--we already are. We wanted her to meet her own
It's times like this that I wish my kiddos could make mistakes on stage, but then bow and smile and carry on with the day.
On Sunday, DD went up on stage to perform her 10th solo violin recital. (She has been playing violin for five years, since she was five-years-old, and her music school does two group concerts and two solo recitals a year, each in the fall and in the spring.) What the audience saw that day was a good performance of a rather short piece. What they didn't know was that DD's nerves made her stumble on a few notes, and she accidentally skipped a large portion of the piece. The piano accompanist made that transition seamlessly, but I saw the panic in her eyes. She finished the piece, took her bow, came down the stage, sat next to me, and started to cry.
Dear Son went up next, and stumbled on a few notes on his piece as well, but he kept going, and finished his piece. You see, that's what we had been telling the kiddos: if you mess up, just keep going; the accompanist will follow you and everything will be fine. Somehow, I never saw that coming: I never saw that the two similar parts of the piece would be a reason for DD to accidentally join the parts out of order. So in a panic, she did what she was told: keep going and finish the piece.
Her silent sobbing next to me broke my heart. Because I knew exactly how she felt. We skidaddled out of the church as soon as the concert was over for her sake, and she didn't even make it into the car before she started full-body crying. She was heartbroken. We tried to tell her comforting words, such as the fact that most people in the audience probably didn't even know about the mistake, but the more we talked, the more she cried. So we gave her some time to calm down. When she got out of the car, I stood there waiting to envelope her in a huge Mama Hug. The kind that says I love you more than life itself no matter what. The kind that I hoped would relieve her of some of her disappointment, frustration, and sadness. The kind that this Mama really needed herself, too. If I could, I would have stood there to squeeze out every ounce of her pain so that she would feel better instantly.
But of course, these things take time. We talked a little more--mama-to-daughter talk--after we went home. We hugged a little more on the couch, and I wiped her tears that kept falling because her tiny heart was soaked with disappointment. I tried to do the right thing, all the while her violin music kept overflowing in my head and I couldn't shut it out (well, I had been hearing it everyday for the last umpteen days). I couldn't stop thinking about how it could have been different, how it could have been salvaged, or how it could have been prevented. But it couldn't have been. No matter how hard I thought about it.
DH said that this was inevitable, as it's likely that every musician has had at least one such moment in life--this just happened to be the first for DD. Given the time she has been doing these performances to the genes that we've passed down to her, it was bound to happen. This is where Parent Guilt becomes overwhelming--because I always ask myself what I could have done differently. Could it be that I didn't tell her enough that I'm so proud of her for going on that stage to play for an entire audience? Could it be that I needed to tell her more reassuring words just before the concert? Could it be that my own nerves made her crumble?
Finally, it occurred to me that this could one day be viewed as a good thing, sometime down the line, years from now. If we could use this Fall--however giant it seems now, but one that will diminish in time--as an experience to build upon, it could serve as a foundation for DD to learn how to recover from such accidents, shocks, or disappointment. Goodness knows that there will be more of these Falls in life, much to the chagrin of my fragile Mama Heart.
We eventually went out to have a quick dinner. DD was a little better by then. Before we left the restaurant, she suddenly and out of nowhere blurted to me, "I love you, mama." Oh, my heart was so surprised and bursting that I fumbled some nonsense words like "I love you a billionth infinity" in order to discreetly blink away the mist in my eyes. Of course, I had to say the exact same thing to DS, too, lest I want to hear some high-pitched screeching in public.
Later at night, DD was able to communicate to me that she was upset because she thought she didn't do a good job, and that she had practiced so much for this piece. I hear you, baby, I hear you. I told her that she did do a good job, because I heard it every single day in her practices. Her teacher, the piano accompanist, and we all know that she is capable of playing this piece well. I told her that next time we would have strategies to combat easy mistakes such as this, and that if anything, she could just play it over from any one spot and the accompanist would follow her. She went to bed smiling, and that's all I really needed to see by nightfall.
Kids are resilient. DD is mostly over this shock to her system. Mamas? Not so much. I still have a little ways to go to feel better about all this, but writing this down has helped tremendously. But I did find a silver lining in this difficult event: DD was sure that she did not wish to stop playing violin or wish to cease performing on stage because of this experience. So I think she will be okay.
One has to fall in order to learn the strength it takes to get back up. DD has gotten back up, and I need to find her courage to follow suit. Twenty-four hours after the "tragedy," DD was humming the tune to her piece cuz she was in a good mood. That girl.
So, Dear Daughter Heartache, you've abruptly made your presence, but I hope that we've dealt with you in the best way possible for DD. I know you'll visit again later, but hopefully we'll know better how to rebound. You're no fun, but an inevitable part of life. See ya later, alligator.
Oh, and have I mentioned how *incredibly proud* I am of DD and her musical accomplishments?