It will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen me at a wedding, I love to dance.
Along with the other guests, I smile, caught up in the love and watch with pleasure as the bride and groom take their first swirl around the dance floor together. I patiently wait as the bride and her father extend the dancing ritual and loop around the same corners. My foot might begin to silently tap if the traditional dances extend to the groom and the mother, the bride and her mother, and so on.
Perched like a hawk, I wait for the wave or the look from the dance floor leaders finally inviting the guests to join them on the floor. Then, like a torpedo released from its chute, I fly out of my chair and find my spot.
At a recent family wedding, I found myself immersed in a line dance with many of the other guests. We moved a few steps to the right and a few steps to the left. We were instructed to simply kick it forward and then walk it off by ourselves. The Cupid Shuffle.
This could also be called the step mom boogie.
I was not given the steps to this complicated dance move when I became a stepmom but I quickly found myself hustling to these new rhythms.
To the right was love. To the left was allegiance. When pulled both ways you kicked it forward until you finally found yourself alone and walking it off by yourself.
Love on the right looked like the eyes of the man you had married and the blurred colors of the eyes of his kids. This stepmoms new blended family. You, this new step mom, had married and embraced this whole group as one unit and tried to teach them your own moves. You reached out with your private swing dance steps searching for their hands with all the love you had to twist, turn and fly with this new family.
The left was filled with many complicated and intricate dance steps that the step mom did not recognize. Dancing on this side were the beautiful souls of your step kids caught in a web of loyalty to their mom and to their dad. They might have supported this new marriage but did not yet understand how all these lines of allegiance were supposed to fit together smoothly without getting tangled or broken. It looked a lot like a Maypole dance weaving in and out, up and over.
Too many times, these dance steps on the left and the right collided. Smacked right in to each other or pulled to get out of the way. All the emotions and hopes and frustrations sapping all the energy out of everyone.
At this point, the third instruction takes over. You kick it out. You jump and jive to the left and the right, trying to find the way to have it all merge together. This step can be exhausting. Overpowering. Isolating and lonely.
So the inner instructor calls out the last move. Walk it off by yourself. Move along to your own private salsa or tango. Gather your reserves and your breath because you know on the next beat you will be back in line shaking it to the right and shaking it to the left. The step mom shuffle.
The sounds of music and the swish of good dancing move me and my inner spirit every time. I love to jump. I love to swing. I love to toss my hair. I love to open my sunroof in the winter time, heat turned on full blast, and sing to the heavens as I make my way home. It is one of my personal self-care secrets.
As the months from my own wedding day have gained in number, I have found myself involved in the step mom dance on numerous occasions. Often it is daily. I am not going to lie. This shuffle can be hard and complicated. I have stumbled and fallen on numerous occasions. There have been days when I wondered if I even wanted to attempt to try the steps again. There were times when it simply did not feel natural or smooth. I wondered if it ever would. And step moms are not given the instructions. You need to figure them out, a lot of times on your own. But little by little, the directions become clearer and there are days when you swing your hips as smoothly as Elvis, in rhythm with all those you love making you want to dance for a long, long time.
I have not done much line dancing. But on that special summer night, I found a certain happiness and joy as I aligned my steps with all these dancers at the wedding. Some familiar. Some not. But there we all were. Hearing the rhythm. Not even having to hear the instructions after the first refrain. Just moving as one. Fifty shoes moving to the right and then to the left. Smiling and whooping it up to kick it out together to the front. And finally enjoying that moment in the sun, all by yourself, knowing you had done your best to make it right.
A beautiful step family boogie.