Rihanna and How Evita Got Her Groove back (well..."is getting" it back)

Truth: 5 years into marriage and two kids later – my body has done some…well…let’s call it “shifting”.

My identity has also done some “shifting”. The latter is actually the part that’s been the hardest to live with. Honestly, I don’t mind the extra jiggle in my middle on most days. Whether he’s lying or not, Adam (my DH) says my stretch marks are sexy. (I choose to believe him.)

No one told me that being a world changer also meant I was an over-achiever. (Well, to “their” credit, if they did tell me, I wasn’t listening because I was too busy changing the world.) Or that I set unrealistic goals for myself and always take the blame if things don’t come out as planned. I read instruction manuals, I follow directions and I expect perfect results from my compliance. I am never (okay “usually”…if there’s been a death or something) late. So here’s the formula for the perfect storm: Me +marriage +motherhood = identity crisis.

Why? Because there are no “measurables” with children. (Although, I was rather proud when each child made it to their first birthday alive.) And I understand this is over-simplifying, but stick with me here. There are no feedback meetings with your manager as you try to fuse your life together with another human being, and life doesn’t stop to let you catch your breath. I looked for that Excel spreadsheet of “critical success factors” to tell me I was right on track, but could never seem to find it. Maybe it was hiding in the same place as the remote, or my cell phone/house keys EVERY time I’d HAVE to leave the house, or that blasted “other” sock…

In essence, I lost my “groove”. Simple tasks seemed like summiting Everest, or at least K2, and things that I was able to do in my sleep now took all of my already taxed concentration. (“Shh…baby, don’t talk to Mommy, I’m trying to remember where I put my phone.” “What, Adam? Sorry I wasn’t listening….I’m sure I put that remote somewhere…what? Something’s burning in the kitchen?!?!”)

So what does this have to do with Rihanna – the fabulous singer? Fast forward to about a month ago. I decided to join a gym. (Actually joining is a WHOLE other story – remind me to tell you someday soon ;-) ) They advertised a weekly class called Dancenergy and the description was…and I quote: Energetic, choreographed dance routines drawn from several dance styles including jazz, ballet, Latin, modern and hip-hop. I thought, “I’ll do it. It’ll be fun, and I’m a class taking person.”

REALITY: It was a hip-hop dance class for advanced dancers (read: Julliard, people!) and I MUST have been the only person over 21 yrs old with more than 2% body fat (ha!) in attendance. Really?! I took my place in the very baaaccckkk of the dance space, away from the mirrors and behind one of the best dancers, and stretched like I knew what I was doing (…I used to…I could seriously dance at one point in my life…but I also used to know how to leave my house in matching/coordinating clothes…) I willed my brain to pay attention as the instructor rattled off incoherent 8-counts of choreography to Rihanna’s song “Rude Boy”. [Sidenote for anyone who can’t get past the “offensive” subject of what this song is about: Look, we’re all adults here. (if not, I’m telling your mom – get off the computer RIGHT NOW.) Adam’s not a Rude Boy. And obviously he “can get it up”…we have two kids. The song is BRILLIANT to dance to. ]

After three weeks of hour-long classes and living in a perpetual state of soreness, my body never quite did what it was supposed to on the right count. Try as hard as I did – I never could make the moves that crisp or the lines that fluid and beautiful. But it was hysterical. It was fun. It was a great workout. And it was the catalyst for an epiphany. What I saw in the mirror as I was trying my darndest to do the “hoochie swirl” and the “hip hop choo-choo” was an unfamiliar picture. I’m not used to seeing myself so … out of sync. The girl who was always on the right “count” in life was off at least by 3-4 in this dance. (especially during the verses!! Sheesh.)

But I enjoyed it. And I wanted to do it EVERY week! Perfection didn’t matter, my heart rate was elevated, calories were burned and I made a new friend or two in the process. (aaannnddd I learned some new ways to shake my groove-thang.)

As I walked home from the gym that first night, literally laughing at how funny that whole scene was, my mind wandered back to the laundry piling up in my closet. The dishes undone. The unbathed babies with dreadlocked hair developing, the filing that will probably never get done. Maybe I was tired, or feeling indulgent and enjoying the random dose self-pity, but I let my mind wander even farther. I thought of the books I wanted to read, but would probably never get to, the things I wanted to study, but don’t have time for, the friendships I want to deepen, but can’t seem to work it out in our schedules….and on and on and on. And then that internal voice – as clear and sharp as lightening whispered, “Enjoy the dance, Evita. Change your frame of reference. Look around at all that is out of sync and instead of blaming yourself for not being a Juilliard dancer, just enjoy the workout.” As simple as that, I had a fresh breath of hope again.

Truth: Do I remember to “enjoy the dance” every day now? Nope. I wish. But I have a new picture, a sticky-note reminder in my heart to look at when everything around me seems sub-par (read:depressing)…relax, enjoy the process and don’t forget to shake your booty while you’re doing it.


michelle from six in the city said...

This is such a beautiful post and really hits home to me. Something I need to remind myself daily, "enjoy the dance." Thanks for the reminder!

Leah said...

Awesome post Evita.. it captures so so so much of this transition to motherhood.

Evita Gahagan said...

thanks ladies. This whole season in life is "uncharted territory" for me. ..really loving God's daily grace these days... ;-)

Lynda said...

Evita, I love this post. My daughter is only 6 months old and already I am feeling like the dishes are piling up, the house is a mess, etc. There is definitely something changing in my heart in my transition to mommy-hood.

I'm glad I found your blog. I could seriously use some fun dancing and a good laugh :)