When the flyer about the Spring Fling dance came home in Rhema’s backpack I was momentarily confused. Rhema? A school dance? Somewhere along the way I’d tucked that one in my back-of-the-closet suitcase of Dreams Deferred.
And even as my mind raced with excitement I was reluctant to pull out that old suitcase and dust off that dream. Because then I might go crazy and start hoping and believing and letting other dreams and expectations out. Pace yourself, girl, I warned. And then I ran to the computer to search for a new dress for Rhema.
I wanted it to be perfect. I spent hours looking for a dress that she would be comfortable in and dreamed up ways to do her hair. The day of the dance I tried three different outfits and she rejected them all, throwing them off moments after I put them on. She refused to let me style her hair.
This was not how it was supposed to go. I envisioned mother-daughter bonding time as I readied her for her big night, not shrieks and a tug-of-war! She went to the dance in a faded, old dress with some spaghetti sauce on the front and her usual fuzzy ponytail.
I was still in a huff on the drive over to the school. My friend Emily’s words came to mind: “It’s time to throw out my ideas of what I thought life would be, should be, and let joy fill up those brand-new vacancies.” Ok God, I prayed, I’m opening wide my suitcase of dreams and expectations and once again I’m giving them all to you. I know your dreams and plans for my children are so much better than mine.
When we arrived, all of the school staff was waiting for us at the door, and my heart filled and nearly burst with gratitude. This is so much more than a job to them. How they give, how they love and care for our children. Just as they are.
They take her in her spaghetti sauce dress with bite marks on her arms, slime on her fingers and chocolate ice cream on her face, and they celebrate her. They put a pinwheel in her hand, a circle of flowers on her head and take pictures like she’s an A-lister on the red carpet. They help her with every step.
“Just like this. I wait for you and I wait for them. Just like this, I love you. I love them.” I can hear Him whisper it.
Rhema had one-on-one staff with her throughout the night (thanks Megan!), and when we picked her up she was so giggly and HAPPY.
She played, wore a flower hat, and devoured ice cream, marshmallows and sprinkles.
And she danced.
I wanted it to be perfect. It was. She was.
Thank you, thank you to Rhema’s school for a beautiful night.