When I was 6 years old, the school (the same school my daughter attends now, in fact) didn’t do a nativity for Christmas. Instead they decided to do a weird thing with elves and pixies. There may have been a Mary or Joseph at some point, but I don’t remember them.
What I do remember is having a huge part in this play. I had to sing a song! I was confident I could do it. I knew the words. I still remember them, 20+ years later. I still remember that it was in the key of G. If I stand still long enough, I can still see the piano and the hall full of people. I can still feel the abject terror in my chest before the tears came and I crumbled, making it impossible to sing, or stand there even. All because my mother was in the audience.
I was terrified I would let her down and instead of taking that chance, I bowed out shamefully. Thing was, that wasn’t the only time I behaved that way. I still have those moments and I still haven’t found a sensible way to break through the terror. When I was 18 and at college, it became so bad I would refuse to play solos in brass band, preferring to hide in the toilets, because obviously they wouldn’t find me there.
I always think my daughter is very much like me. Sometimes too much. She cries when she gets frustrated. She’s upset by imperfection. She’s a talented girl – she’s got perfect pitch and she’s full of grace (I have neither of these things). Like many parents, I went to see her in the nativity this week where she played Mary.
Mary! Shit. If I’d ever been given Mary I would have crapped myself on the stage, vomited over the audience, then run off sobbing and howling.
I was prepared for the dreaded moment as soon as she spotted me. I’d even thought about how I would curb the feelings of guilt and disappointment that come with failure through fear.
She is not me.
My little girl was fantastic. Not nervous, she acted brilliantly, swayed the audience, didn’t forget her lines. Best Mary I’ve ever bloody seen.
I am so proud of her. And I want to be proud of me, too. I’ve helped shape this confidence in her.
The fear holding me back needs to go somewhere else. I’m sick of being the grumpy camel.
I’m going to be Mary in my own nativity and I’m going to be great!
Written for The Prompt