I’m married to an actor. I hear there’s a thing called a “quick change” in which you have to take off one costume and put on another …well, quickly. Usually this is because the actor is playing multiple parts or in different scenes.
I had a stunning revelation the other night that womanhood in general, and my life in particular, is much like live theater in this regard.
I had this revelation around midnight lying on the floor of my daughters’ room. There I was in striped flannel pajama pants and a VBS t-shirt, wrapped up in a Backyardigans blanket waiting for Lucy & Penny to fall asleep so I could army crawl out of their room and into my cozy bed that kept beckoning me. (Scene note: Parents, don’t judge. We are transitioning Penny into a toddler bed and sharing a room with her sister. We don’t always lie on the floor nightly until our children fall asleep. But sometimes you gotta do what you’ve gotta do.)
10 minutes prior to that scene I was in a black cocktail dress and 4 inch heels returning home from an awards banquet where Starving Artist Productions had been nominated in several categories. (Scene note: A ballroom full of theater people is…no note can prepare you sufficiently for this, actually.)
Earlier that day I was kicking off my pumps to jump on the trampoline with my family in my church clothes. This was after I shed the apron I was donning while making quiche and cutting fruit for brunch, which was an hour after I took my fancy magnetic nametag off of my red sweater to hand to Lucy to play with while pulling out of the parking lot of the church where I work.
We often say that women wear many hats, or perhaps in this analogy, many costumes. It’s true. We are constantly moving in and out of scenes, changing roles. It makes for a busy, full life. Some days all the hats and quick changes can run us ragged and leave us wondering who we are- which character we are and which ones we are just “playing.” Which parts we wish we could play, which roles would be more glamorous. Which ones are boring and which ones are fun. Which ones we wish got more stage time and which ones we resent having been cast in.
I certainly have those days.
But as I pondered all of life being like a stage while lying on the floor last night in my flannel pajamas, my feet throbbing from excessively tall shoes, my eyes heavy due to a lack of sleep that comes with raising toddlers, my heart was grateful. Grateful for all the quick changes to remind me of who I am and who & what I love the most. All these parts we play, as it were, aren’t meant to confuse or cause compartmentalization or fragmentation or schizophrenia. Rather, they are gifts that ground us and grow us. They are gifts that keep us from painting ourselves and each other too broadly or flatly. They keep us humble and strong, needy and needed.
I’m embracing the quick change.
I’m calling it an honor to be entrusted with so many things to do and people to care for.
I’m believing that while I am more than the sum of the parts I play, each part helps to shape my life in profoundly beautiful and important ways. I may not be exclusively defined by my roles, but I’m learning the grace that is letting my identity be informed and shaped by them.