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What can Glee teach me?

4 Comments 29 May 2010

Last week I watched a very moving version of Poker Face , a song that I have never heard in my life, a song that I have since learned is actually Lady Gaga’s song, and I had a lump in my throat.  Okay, I am not a Glee fan, but my fifteen year old daughter is and I must admit, after watching the show a couple of weeks with her, I must admit, it is fun.  I certainly enjoy listening to some of the great musical hits from back in “the day.”  But it caught my attention that night, and without going into all of the storyline (since I am sure I couldn’t tell you everything correctly) I will tell you why it has plunged me into thought.  This song, as it was played out in this little melodrama, for me, scratched the surface of the vast and intricate world known as…the fragile relationship between mothers and daughters.  And it came on the heels of a conversation that had taken place the morning before at my Starbucks.

Listen to the Glee Version of Poker Face :

You see, I sit every morning at a little table in Starbucks, in my little neighborhood.  And while it may seem to some that the group of women I meet there, pretty much on a daily basis, are carefree, middle-class women who have nothing better to do than sit and drink our expensive coffee and fritter our days away, that just simply isn’t the case.  In fact, if you knew us, you would know that this silly coffee shop is nothing short of our modern day “porch” and we are no different than the generations of women who have gone before us, gathered around their kitchen tables or their clothes lines.

Our lives and the burdens that we carry on a daily basis are as varied as we are, as are our socio-economic statuses, our spouses’ jobs, our family lives and our backgrounds.  Some of us work in an office, some are self-employed, others are single and others practically run the local school.  Our tie is that we are women and we are all mothers.  This ritual of sorts, this meeting of the minds, in this spot, is our community.  We come together to support one another to encourage one another and to remind one another that we are not alone.

Various topics are discussed around our little table each day, some may be frivolous, but for the most part, it is a safe place to lay before one another the burdens that have kept us up the night before or the stories that have caused belly laughs on the way to school.  It is good to have a place to bring your life, a place to be known and to know others.  Yesterday, the topic was mothers, who we are as mothers and how we were mothered.  We talked about what kind of mothers we are to our children, we talked about what it was to be our particular mother’s daughter.  Our similarities and our differences with our mothers.

So what in the world does this have to do with a silly television show and Lady Gaga?  Well, if you watch Glee, you know the storyline, if not, the character singing Poker Face had finally found her birth mother and after a brief reunion of sorts, the birth mother has communicated that she isn’t really interested in having a “grown-up” daughter.  There is a seeming disconnect between the two of them, except for their shared musical talent.  Thus, the moving rendition of “Poker Face.” Initially, I thought, oh, this is a cute song.  But, by the end of the song, I was in a very different spot emotionally.  While my take away may have nothing to do with the producer/writer’s intention, because of my conversation with my tribe at Starbucks, this is where my heart lead me.

The line in the song that pinned me to the wall was “she’s got to love nobody.”  A mother that has got to love nobody.  The song ends with this line and the mother walks away.  There were so many threads of our conversation in Starbucks about mothers, so many moments of the women lamenting at one point or the other a sense of not being loved, or at least not  being loved for who they felt that they truly were…by their mothers.  And then the ultimate fear expressed by each of us, on some level, that we could possibly do the same to our own children…

Loving as a mother is not just about being in a child’s life, it is not simply showing up and taking care of the obligations, although those are givens for a mother who loves her child, but it can’t end there.  So, what does it mean to love our children?  It left me wondering, what does it mean for me?

I don’t want any version of that line running through my daughter’s (or my son’s for that matter) mind one day.  I do have to love somebody, and not just any SOMEBODY, I’ve got to love my somebody, my daughter, just as she is!  I do want to love my somebody.  I do not want to live my life with a poker face, especially with my daughter.  I want her to see my cards, which will mean me being emotionally vulnerable with her, which can be messy and even frightening.  However, that is a risk I would rather take than to have her feel as if I am a facade of a person who lives at the emotional fringe of her life, never accessible to her heart.

I have to love her and let her love me; love her real “somebody” and let her love my real “somebody.”  I know, seems a lot to get from a Lady Gaga song, but I really can’t stop thinking about it, I’m just sayin!  So, even though the conclusions that we come to at our Starbucks every morning are rarely worthy of mention to anyone outside of our little circle, we move out into our separate lives fuller and more settled than when we arrived.   And I will take my newly discovered version of Poker Face to Starbucks next week…and I will use it to remind my friends that we must love learn to “love our SOMEBODIES!”

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4 Comments so far

  1. Judy Helfand says:

    I keep meaning to watch “Glee”. I know many of my friends that work on Broadway really enjoy it. I have wondered if its impact on the viewer is similar to how we felt when watching “Fame” from l982-87. The magic of music. When you combine music with your thoughts about motherhood and mothering…well it is the hardest vocation and every “porch” filled with friends is a welcome sight. I listened to the song “Poker Face”. The words are powerful and I promise to watch GLEE.
    PS. You may want to check your links on the phrase “Poker Face” they are broken and taking the reader to a 404 page.

  2. Lola says:

    Have heard of Glee, but never watched it. Love the post though. . .great thoughts. Wish I had a little Starbucks community with whom to share life here. . .that is one thing that is sorely missing for me.

  3. Joanne says:

    Glee is an incredible show!!! There is a lot to be learned from it… I loved this episode… Lady Gaga’s lyrics are incredible.
    I loved your interpretation that we should be sure to love our somebodies!
    I’m looking forward to the day when i can hang with my friends at Starbucks on a more regular basis but then that will also mean that my babies are growing up… bittersweet…

    • Jorja says:

      joanne, it is a sticky wicket as my friend margaret would say, but we so need time on that porch to ponder our parenting, our personhood and our friendships!


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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