Most of us who are parents tend to think that there is a specific window to which we are limited in terms of watching and supporting our children. We see our opportunities as finite, and somehow that perception extends to the notion that, unless we fit in everything during our offspring’s childhood, we’ll never get another chance. Not so!
Last weekend my husband and I flew to Baltimore to watch our older daughter in her first featured theater role. Since high school, Hillary has been involved in drama. She has made costumes, built sets, and has religiously tried out for every production. Consistently, she was cast in the chorus, where her strong voice and dancing skills made her a valuable member of every production. And while she always participated with energy and a faithfulness that was touching, her real goal, not surprisingly, was to have a featured role.
Finally, her time came a couple of months ago when she was cast as Doris in a community theater production of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Wayne, sister Allison and I knew that missing Hillary’s moment was not an option. She applied no pressure, just an invitation; we just knew we needed to be there.
When the girls were little, like parents everywhere, we sat in the audience and applauded our daughters as they performed with varying degrees of brilliance. We were justifiably proud of them — as well as able to recognize where their talents lay (or not). We may never have been quite as proud of her as we were Saturday night.
Hillary has never given up her theater dreams. She has survived disappointments and occasional casting choices that seemed arbitrary at best and personal at worst. She has never lost her love of the theater or her belief in herself. She has shown that very grit and resilience that all parents hope their children will develop.
Hillary was awesome as Doris. Truly. She hit every line and every mark. She was relaxed with the rest of the cast. She radiated both confidence and joy. And us, her aging parents? We sat in the audience alongside of the parents of the children in the cast and marveled at yet another way that the parenting story continues.
Our (very) grown daughters are lovely, independent women with successful lives and careers of their own. We remain a close family who values each other’s accomplishments and shares disappointments.
After Hillary graduated from college, Wayne and I never would have anticipated Saturday evening, when we happily found ourselves again in the role of supportive parents, watching our child perform. Parenting, the highs and lows, the challenges and rewards, never stops. What a gift.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.