October 22, 2013

Let’s Have an Awkward Dance Party. ~ Jane Henderling

My son is 18-months old and he plays the air guitar.

No joke. But it’s not just some innate human instinct to thrust our hips forward, throw our head back and strum our fingers whenever we hear a funky tune. No. Not surprisingly, my son got those sweet moves from us—Mom and Dad.

That’s because we happen to enjoy an awkward dance party every now and then.

What is an awkward dance party? Well, it’s really quite simple: cranking the music up (Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings and I Heard it Through the Grapevine are two quality examples—your classic wedding jams), and moving unabashedly.

These days, having an impromptu awkward dance party with my family brings me the strangest, most amazing joy (I know, cheep thrills). What’s more is that these dance sessions help us to take life—and ourselves—less seriously.

Plus, I get to see my strong-and-silent-type husband bust out some sweet-ass moves. And by “sweet-ass” I mean totally strange.

Most importantly, though, they allow us to drop whatever masks we may be burdened with that day and become more vulnerable.

There is a great value in being vulnerable within the walls of our living space, amidst the people that have the power to love us unconditionally. Vulnerability, is essentially our willingness to be seen completely and the origin of joy, belonging, and our sense of what we’re worth as individuals.

For my husband and myself, I think awkward dance parties are a great release of the parental responsibilities—the life responsibilities that we constantly carry. But for my son, I believe dance parties with Mom and Dad—witnessing this silliness, this vulnerability—serves a bigger purpose.

I believe—I hope (dear god I hope beyond hope that I am not damaging him completely with my amazing breakdancing moves)—that by seeing us in this vulnerable state he learns to stay vulnerable. Of course, as a young toddler he already has the gift of unbridled emotion, unyielding him-ness, but perhaps he can learn that it’s okay to stay this way, to continue to be seen completely and still belong. He can be who he is—to his core–worthy of love.

If, as parents, we can foster a safe environment at home in which to be vulnerable, we become more comfortable with being authentic—all of the time. We learn to be authentic in every part of our life and thus allow and encourage others to be authentic. Essentially, we give permission for others to be themselves. We become more accepting, more whole, less separate.

On the surface our awkward dance parties are just a way to blow off some steam, be silly, have a good time. But I know better. I know they serve a greater purpose.

Life is heavy. Motherhood, many a time, has brought me to my knees with the weight of it all. That’s why, when I am able to stand on my feet, I dance—awkwardly, of course.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

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Jane Henderling