To that mom in my neighborhood,
Every morning on my way to work I see you at the bus stop. Some days you're huddling with your two elementary school kids under an umbrella. Some days you're gamely kicking a soccer ball back and forth with your son. Some days you're untangling your daughter as she struggles with the leash of your energetic puppy. Some days you barely look awake, standing bleary-eyed in your coat and sweatpants.
Every day, though, you dance.
Whether it's warm or cold, windy or mild, rain or snow, when your children board the bus, you do your little jig and wave as it slowly pulls away. I can imagine your kids pressed up against the window waving back. Maybe they are excited too. Maybe your son, who looks on the brink of middle school, is mortified and rolls his eyes as you shake your hips and flail your arms. Maybe. Or perhaps while outwardly embarrassed, he secretly appreciates the routine, the consistency that every day no matter what else happens, his mom is there with the same 10-second shimmy to show them that she loves them.
Enter parenthood, exit self-respect.
Do our parents ever seem cool to us? Probably not. My own famously embarrassed me at every turn, whether it was my mother marching on the front lawn every September, waving a giant American flag to celebrate us leaving on the first day of school or my father obliviously sporting his too-small, monochromatic, Fruit of the Loom sweat suits all over town.
I like to think that no matter who you are to the rest of the world, you're still an embarrassment to your children. Even Madonna is probably uncool to her own kids. But in the end, kids don't care if you're a global icon or grocery shopping in your pajamas.
They will remember that you dressed as a clown on your wedding anniversary just to bring a joke full-circle with the neighbor down the street. They will remember putting the "Thriller" album on and doing the moonwalk with you on the living room carpet and that time you cut up your own rain poncho so you could play "The Shredder" to their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. They will remember that you took the time to really engage with them, to show them how not to take life -- and themselves -- so seriously.
Whether your parent dances in the middle of the street for you (and every other kid) on the morning bus or patriotically prances on the lawn, it's the truest display of love. To publicly humiliate yourself for the sake of humoring your children, that's real commitment, folks.
And whether you, the sons and daughters, think it's funny or cool or instead wish the earth would open and swallow you up to save you from the public shame of having a parent that weird, you will ALWAYS remember it. And you will come to appreciate and know just how much they cared.
So, here's to another generation of parents embarrassing their kids. Chances are, you will be line-dancing, arm-twirling, flag-waving and yoo-hooing at your kids one day too... because who wants to be cool, when you can be fun?