Last week I dressed up as Princess Leia. It wasn’t Halloween, Mardi Gras, or even a costume party. Nor does my husband have a kinky fetish for intergalactic rebel royalty (that I’m aware of). I dressed up because my youngest son is a Star Wars freak and it was his birthday party. Yes, that’s right. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and paying someone else to entertain ten five-year-olds for two hours, I swallowed any remaining pride I had and donned what could possibly be argued as the most unflattering hair -do ever, a white, polyester robe and elasticized spats. My husband spent the party decked out as Darth Vader. As he is about eight inches taller than the average male, the nylon jumpsuit that came with the costume was understandably a bit….er….snug in the groin. (Insert light saber joke here).
So on a random Sunday in April, we got into galactic character and partied down. I figure that makes us some of the coolest parents on the planet….or the most ridiculous. The odds are pretty evenly split at this stage.
Dressing as a watered down version of Carrie Fisher is really only the last in a long line of ridiculous things I’ve done in the name of love. Watermelon cheer at the Boy Scouts pack meeting? Check. (Under duress, but check). Spending whole days jig-saw piecing cakes together to make them look like Lego bricks or R2D2? Check. Waking up early to hide small plastic animals and other objects in not-quite-plain-sight for a scavenger hunt for six-year olds? Check. Collecting 50 paper towel and toilet paper rolls for crafty light sabers–(not once, but twice as someone nicked the first bag)? Check. And that’s just the tip of the ludicrous iceberg.
When you are a parent, you may not get a manual, but you get a crash course in unconditional love and pride swallowing. Parenting is not about giving and receiving with children, it’s about giving, giving, giving. It’s like Santa Claus on steroids. There is little reciprocity, little feedback, little acknowledgement or encouragement. Being a parent is like opening a vein. And keeping it open. Just when you think it will scab over, heal a bit, someone else has a need that tears it open once again.
I’ve never doubted the love I felt for my kids. But the frequent and easy suppression of my pride, my willingness to look silly, to suffer through two hours of an incredibly itchy wig, surprised me. Only love for my children could make me do such things. That or the chance to embarrass them by pulling into the school parking lot blasting ABBA at full volume or doing spastic YMCA arm movements at a social gathering.
We borrowed the costumes for the party. But seeing that the franchise shows no sign of slowing down, we are thinking of investing to own.
May the force be with you.
Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan