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

Via Jane Henderling
on Oct 22, 2013
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emmett flint

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


About Jane Henderling

Jane is a yoga instructor, writer, and hard working mama to a little boy. In past lives she was a magical flying unicorn, a great blue whale, and a pebble on the beach. She believes we are all inherently good, and knows that she often comes off as overly optimistic and naive. She wants it to be known that she has thought things through thoroughly, and she is still optimistic. She has a fridge full of beer,  a freezer full of ice cream, and loves both with such enthusiasm that her son calls them both “mama”. It embarrasses her in the grocery store (but not enough to deter her from getting more).


5 Responses to “Let’s Have an Awkward Dance Party. ~ Jane Henderling”

  1. Mika says:

    Absolutely love the message here. I believe that how you do one thing, is how you DO everything. Vulnerability creates a space for you to take risks, and to LOVE wholeheartedly, without fear. If my own parents taught me that it was okay to look and be silly, then I wouldn't have grown up trying to blend into the wall. Thank you for this post, Jane. Such a beautiful message.

  2. Angie says:

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing! Now I don’t feel do silly doing the same in our home!

  3. Jane says:

    Thanks so much, Mika! Now, go be silly 🙂

  4. Victoria Boye says:

    This article is extraordinary. My dear friend Kate McNeely sent me the link and I was blown away at not only how well written, colorfully painted and honest it was, but at how closely it mirrors my own experience. I have a 21 month old- we do much of the same, silly dance parties, making fools of ourselves, and its the most fun you can have. I believe deeply in the power of vulnerability, and the importance of a sense of belonging (I'm a huge Brene Brown devotee). This piece is remarkably written and I feel like i am standing in your living room with you watching you all bust out some sweet-ass breakdance moves! =) You have a new fan.

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