Location: Charlotte, NC
There are a few I told you so moments every parent gets to irrefutably claim, and one of mine is insisting that Eliza bring her guitar with her to treatment. She had to quickly unpack from her interrupted semester in Ireland and repack for the treatment center in California and she was jet-lagged and overwhelmed. Taking her guitar along was just one more thing to have to worry about on a flight and in a mind that was already crammed with plenty of things bogging her down, but I knew the guitar would be worth the hassle. Eliza has always enjoyed music on a level far deeper than my own appreciation of it, with certain artists serving as the soundtrack for times in her life. Strumming on the guitar and learning songs has also been her go-to thing to do when she has time on her hands. I also knew that she had recently begun writing her own music and putting some of her angst into songs. The ability to do so seemed like an important piece of her recovery.
On Saturday night, her last in Charlotte before heading back to college, I got to share my “Mom was right” moment with a roomful of folks who came over for a house show of her music. Eliza played eleven songs, nine of them originals and many of them written while she was in California, in an acoustic set in our living room. Through her music and the intros to each of her songs, Eliza shared the distress of her eating disorder, the angst of being a teenage girl and overthinking things, and the hope and joy that she has found in her recovery. David and I had heard each of the songs as she wrote them, but hearing them all together, in a room full of people who were hearing them for the first time, was incredibly moving. Eliza also appreciated playing in front of a crowd and getting to share her deeply personal lyrics and music with people who were not her parents… she commented that it was great to get applause from someone other than her mother.
My vantage point on the couch allowed me to look out at not just Eliza, sitting in the front of the room on a stool with her guitar and her set list on the coffee table below, but also at the living room and kitchen filled with her friends and ours who came over on short notice to hear her play. My joy stemmed from my immense pride in seeing my daughter shine, both in her courage to share what she thinks and feels so openly and honestly and in the talent that I truly admire because I do not possess it at all. (My lack of rhythm and musical ability is a longstanding source of ridicule in our family. Noah’s holiday card to me listing all of the things he loves about me and has learned from me had rhythm crossed out as item no. 6!) It was great to see people nodding and tearing up in appreciation and confirmation of a talent and passion that can now be objectively confirmed as something Eliza should keep pursuing.
But the audience was also a source of joy for me. There was so much support and love packed into our house and sending Eliza back to school with all of that palpable good will and mojo is such a gift. Eliza and I came up with the idea of a house show to showcase her music less than a week ago. I sent out an invite thinking we would maybe get a few of our friends to stop by on such short notice, and Eliza feared that most of her friends had already left to go back to school. We were both overwhelmed and touched with the turnout and the effort people made to come support Eliza. Parenting is hard and it often does take a village. Eliza’s village was out in full force at her first ever house show (although I suspect it will not be her last!) and I am so grateful.