Pizza and Pews
I have been trying to write this post for almost two weeks. Each time, after about three pages of writing, I sigh, shake my head and slam my laptop hard for extra effect. Mature, I know.
I wanted to write about how last April, my 14 year old daughter Hannah asked if we could see Wicked in New York City for her birthday. The story included exciting details about how we couldn’t afford to see Wicked, saved for 8 months as a family so that we could go, and even though, after 8 months we still hadn’t saved quite enough, we decided to buy the tickets anyway. I wrote about how after all of this hard work, Hannah became really sick two days before the show which led me to have a complete fit because deep down, even though I know this isn’t true about life, I like to pretend that if I work really hard and plan really well, everything will turn out just as I hope it will.
We decided to go to New York anyway. I had purchased insurance for the tickets, but I read horror stories about filing a claim and worried that if we didn’t go, we might be flushing all of that money down the toilet. This caused me more anxiety than thinking about my daughter watching Wicked in a feverish fog.
Even though our day in NYC wasn’t quite what I pictured when I thought about Hannah’s birthday wish, it was better than I expected but not because of the amazing show.
And that is what I want to write about.
When we arrived in NYC, we decided to grab a quick lunch at a pizza place before the performance. Walking into the middle of the restaurant, we looked up and saw an exquisite ceiling and stained glass windows. Our server told us that the building used to be a Gospel church, and for a quiet moment I thought about a group of people worshiping God together in this building and tried to picture what a Sunday morning was like so many years ago. I chuckled to think about people now eating calzones in the choir loft.
I left my thoughts and entered conversation with my family. Hannah was feeling much better. One of the girls asked, “Is it just me or does one of us always get sick during a big trip?” We laughed as we remembered a long drive to North Carolina when I leaned over the back seat holding grocery bags while both Emily and Hannah threw up and how I was really patient and kind until one bag had a hole in it, and vomit ended up all over the floor of the van. The girls reminded me of how well I often handle situations like that. Let’s just say that for a few moments, it was difficult to determine who was the child and who was the adult in our van.
My oldest daughter then held up her hand as if to say that she had the story to beat all stories. “Well for some reason whenever I feel sick, Mom never believes me!”
I rolled my eyes with a smile and sat back and waited for her to tell the story. In dramatic fashion with many waves of her hand, Emily recreated a trip that she and I took to NYC when she was nine. She kept telling me that she had a stomach ache, but I kept insisting that she was fine. I dragged her across town to meet some friends of mine and their new baby and five minutes into the visit we were sprinting to the bathroom where she promptly threw up. A few yards from the toilet.
She then threw up in the cab all the way back to our hotel. After a long pause, Emily sighed and said she is still scarred by this moment. I accepted The Mom of the Year award and thanked the Academy.
We have lots of throw up in our family story.
And even though many of the stories had some theme of me blowing it, there was a moment at the table where I looked at my husband and my girls with their laughing faces and animated stories, and I just let it all soak in. I get to share life with these beautiful people and life includes a lot of brokenness and tears and trials, but it also includes a lot of laughter and togetherness. I looked up at the beautiful stained glass windows that allowed a softer light to shine on our table, and I considered what an act of worship it was to sit here and embrace life with my family. I would remember this moment so much more than any Broadway show. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and gave thanks to God.