It's funny how the annoying family adages you hear growing up are generally ignored as a child, yet stored in hibernation subconsciously, ready to be pulled out when you're older.
As a kid, I loathed hearing my mom repeat the same dumb old sayings over and over again. As an adult, I've realized they actually stuck with me.
I guess there's something to be said about repetition.
Now I use them to torment my own children, and they are typically received with the same dramatic sighs and eye rolls I gave 20+ years ago... but because I'm 'just the stepmom' it's like a hundred times worse.
I've often wondered if the majority of what I say to the girls goes in one ear and out the other. This is evident in the fact that I've asked repeatedly for them to put their shoes and backpacks in their designated baskets in the foyer, yet I still seem to trip over them every single morning... in the living room, the dining room and pretty much everywhere that isn't a 'basket in the foyer'.
We were headed into the weekend after a long week of softball games, soccer practices, after school activities and lots of mid-term study sessions. Eric had been insanely busy at work, and I was nursing an injured shoulder, feebly attempting to get all of my doctors and admins on the same page. With all the hectic hullabaloo, we were in desperate need for some family fun time. Eric suggested we go out to dinner at a local seafood joint... where they also happen to have karaoke.
Back in the day, I used to be a singer. Now my voice is strictly reserved for dimly lit bars and Irish pubs with a hoppy IPA on tap. Eric loves to hear me sing, but I just don't have the same confidence I once did. I'm older, I'm saggier, my energy level isn't what it once was and neither are my vocal cords.
It's actually quite ironic.
All those years spent on the stage, demanding people watch me perform. Here, I finally have a man who wants to hear me sing, and I don't have a lick of a desire to do so.
After being trapped in the house for a week chained to the recliner with a legal pad, pen and cell phone attached to my ear, I ignored my usual hesitations, "Yes! Sounds like so much fun. What time do we need to be ready?"
When the girls got home from school I told them that daddy would be home around 6pm, and they needed to be dressed and ready for family night out because we were going to karaoke. Krista seemed the most excited, and when I asked her if she was going to sing, rather than the expected 'no way' she instead gave me an "I think so."
I was perplexed. Krista had typically been the shier and more reserved of the two, but she was seriously contemplating getting on stage and singing in front of a bunch of strangers.
I am a betting gal, and I was going to put my figurative money on, No way in hell.
We strolled into the Juicy Crab a little before 7 to the sound of two little girls, not more that 5 or 6, singing Let it Go.
"Where are they?" Kylie asked, looking to put the faces to the voices.
"Right over here, see." I pointed out the two littles singing in the center of the room.
"Aw, they're so cute!"
Watching them hug the microphone with pure unalduterated childlike confidence spurred a conversation between Kylie, Krista and me.
"Keeks, are you still wanting to sing?"
Krista was hesitant. "I don't think so."
Called it. Show me the money!$$$
"What if I sing a song first, would that make you guys feel more comfortable?"
In unison they both exclaimed, "YES!"
Okay, I have no choice now. I HAVE to sing, not for Eric, but for the girls.
Keeping with the Disney inspiration from earlier, I put in a request for Part of Your World, hopeful that if Krista and Kylie saw me that it would encourage them to put in a song choice of their own.
As I walked back to our table, my hands still shaking from anxiety and nerves, I saw the girls reviewing lyrics to the duet they were about to perform. They asked me to put the request in for them, and so I did-
Krista and Kylie for Love is an Open Door from the movie, Frozen.
Three songs later, and it was the girls' turn to grab the mics and take the stage. Except now, Kylie was backing out, "I don't want to. I'm scared."
And that's when I heard it...my very own words... something I've repeated time and time again over the past several years... coming straight from my step-daughter's mouth! "Don't be afraid, Kyz. You're never going to see these people again! Who cares what they think?!"
Wait. Did she just give the same advice that I relentlessly dish out to her... to her sister?
Unfortunately, Kylie, who is probably the most stubborn human I know, wasn't budging.
Krista was still wanting to give it a go, and begged for me to sing it with her.
I didn't know the song, but I knew that if this was something that I had to do to give Krista the courage to sing in front of a bunch of strangers for the first time EVER, there was no way I could possibly pass up the opportunity. After all, she was using my words over my head.
You're never going to see these people again. Who cares what they think?!
It was settled, Krista would be Anna and I would be Hans.
Krista was amazing! I, on the other hand, was a disastrous train wreck. Because I wasn't familiar with it, I stumbled over the words, was off pitch, out of tune and didn't even sing the correct part half the time. I'm pretty sure every patron in the restaurant was laughing about as hard as Krista and I were with my failed attempt.
However, after my embarrassingly awful and screwed up rendition of a male Disney character, something amazing happened: Kylie got a quick burst of courage. "Okaaaay. I'll sing... but only if you both sing History with me?"
It was a no-brainer.
There we were, the three of us, in the middle of the restaurant floor singing one of our favorite One Direction songs.
And all belting it out like no one was watching!
We received a standing ovation- certainly not for our talent, but for representing a family unit determined that if we were going to mess up, we were going to mess up TOGETHER.
I don't think I've ever been more proud of the girls than I was in that moment. It was uncomfortable, and it was scary. Standing in front of a bunch of strangers and giving them a (generally reserved only for road-trips) performance definitely wasn't easy.
BUT, as Krista reminded all of us (with the same 'dumb saying' I've used countless times, that my mother used on me countless times),
We'll never see those people again. Who cares what they think?
And we didn't.
And it was AWESOME!
That night I learned that some of what I say really does stick, that some of what I do really does make an impression- That, even though I'm 'just the stepmother', I still play an important role- I'm not just here for carpool duty, math tutoring or ensuring daily feedings and a clean house- I'm here as a role model to teach them important life lessons.
...AND to repeat the same annoying old adages that were passed down to me (albeit in the tune of a broken-record) in hopes that one day they'll realize I'm not totally full of shit, and there's actually some merit to what I tell them.
After our little karaoke outing at the Juicy Crab, I think it might be working.
*trips over two pairs of shoes and a backpack in the hallway*
~names have been changed to protect the innocent~