a lampshade, a firefly & lessons from silly (#wholemama).

I learned Silly from a woman who once affixed a gold-covered lampshade to her keister.

The lampshade came with matching gilt miniskirt, a bright red overcoat and bearded, tentacled forest green hat, all of which she fashioned or sewed herself. Lest you think the outfit thus far was nothing short of amazing, she also held a hidden switch in her left sleeve. Whenever she raised her arm to sing, the lightbulb at the end of the lampshade would magically turn on.

See, for example, Exhibit A, and the bright light emanating from the right side of the picture. That ain’t no 80’s camera mishap, y’all. 

But it’s a real, live human firefly.

And it’s my mom.

IMG_8791Back then, for one memorable weekend of our lives, we let go of all mommy endearments, and we just called her Farley McFirefly. Because, you see, her outfit wasn’t merely for Halloween purposes, solely designed for the amusement of our neighbors (although she did, as pictured, go door to door with a most sparkly derriere, and they did, after all, let her in – I mean, wouldn’t you?)

Really, it wouldn’t have been right to keep it to ourselves, because this outfit was for Jesus. 

My mother took center stage in the church sanctuary and glowed for God. She sang her heart as one of the adults cast in the kids’ musical, ass all aglow while insect tentacles reached heavenward.

“I cannot fly, ’cause of my brrrrrroken wing,” she sang in lilted Scottish accent, “but I can give the glory to God!”  

At ten years old, my brother and sister and I stood on stage with her, back-up chorus to her most shiny, fearless self. We, too, were trying our hardest to glow. We, too, wanted to give the glory all to God. But we didn’t have the guts to do what she did, to parade around the stage belting and blinking in rhythm to the songs of Psalty’s Camping Adventure.

I remember the waves of mortification:

My mom is dressed as the largest, weirdest bug you’ve ever seen. My mother is parading around the stage with a huge lampshade on her butt. She is blinking, brightly, even violently, for crying out out loud. And they’re all laughing at her.

But I also remember the pride, the simultaneous delight that birthed from watching her most fearless self, the pleasure that overtook all feelings of doubt: 

She’s the one making them laugh, on purpose, just because. 

She could care less what anyone thinks about her.

This woman, my very own mother, is fearless.  

Because that’s the thing: We call it silly. We tell the stories of lampshades on butts, and reading stories with funny voices, and embracing the jocular with our children and with each other, and we call it silly.

And embracing the silly, provoking the giggles, entering into the moment with wide-eyed wonder is most important. 

But today I realize that silly is not merely silly. The type of silly my mother gifted to me – and to many of the lives that she’s touched along the way – was and is that much more than mere child’s play. Sometimes silly is just on the outside, a facade to the reality underneath.

And for her, and perhaps for you and for me someday too, to be truly silly also means to be Brave and Courageous and Strong. 

Now that’s the kind of silly I want to be and do and embrace in this Thing Called Life.

How about you? How are you silly? Where did you learn silly? And did your mom ever dress up as a human lampshade with her blinking backside? Didn’t think so. I win. (And don’t worry, all permission was given for the posting of this picture and story). Join the #wholemama movement, and write about silly today!

Whole Mama

21 thoughts on “a lampshade, a firefly & lessons from silly (#wholemama).

  1. That is SO your mom! She still IS that fearless (and hilarious) woman who always has it in the back of her mind (and therefore, in the forefront of her actions) that whatever she does, she does HEARTILY as unto the Lord. I wish I could TELL you how many ways in which she’s blessed me, not the least of which is teaching me that it really doesn’t matter if we embarrass our children (and OH, Aaron and Bethany could regale you with stories of how OFTEN I embarrassed–and embarrass–them) because we are modeling for them what it means to be joyful and free and do nothing out of glory for ourselves. Because I mean, REALLY, what glory is there in walking around a neighborhood with your butt lit up like a humungous cigar? But huh…look at the memories. I LOVE your mom’s unquenchable spirit (and her Scottish accent is spot on). And her. And you. Mark my words, Cara, my lovely little firefly girl…one day YOU will do something similar and you will say to yourself, “I am my mother.” And that will be a beautiful thing.

    1. I think you said it well and EXACTLY, Chris Patterson. She’s unquenchable, that woman …and I couldn’t be more proud. 🙂 (It’s pretty fun when the tables turn).

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

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  2. Cara, what a delight your mother must be! She sounds like a lot of fun. I loved reading your post and when you really think about it, this makes a lot of sense:”For to be truly silly also means to be Brave and Courageous and Strong.” I used to be really good at being silly when I was a kid, but I guess I just became more self conscious and was afraid I’d look stupid, so I didn’t do much. I could do with a little more silly these days! 🙂 Your mom’s story is inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I absolutely loved this story, Cara! And I think I’m a little envious of your mama. There’s a certain freedom in silly, isn’t there? A certain faith too … let go, and let God. Your mama is a gift.

  4. Never heard about or saw the firefly before but it’s truly in character. So very glad you’ve come to appreciate your gutsy mom! Thanks for sharing that. Well done!

  5. I love those moments of realization when our mortification can turn into something easier to swallow – like seeing our beloved mothers as courageous and strong. And to share that silliness with our own children is priceless. Wonderful story, thank you for sharing this.

    1. Rose, yes! Might mortification continue to morph into the most courageous and strongest of memories, past and present. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  6. I love this, Cara! I couldn’t help smiling and beaming with pride at your Mama. Here’s hoping I can intentionally choose that kind of silliness. The kind that means something. The kind that’s more than making a joke about poop. Because I’m a #boymom.

    1. Oh girl, YES! How about this: Here’s to poop jokes AND oodles of chosen, purposeful silliness. 🙂 xo.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  7. How fun and THE BEST photo of the the #wholemama series so far. What an amazing mom thing to do. I learned most of my silly from my dad, although my mom was gutsy. Good combo for me growing up. Dad had the “nostril blast.” Hm, maybe I should have blogged about that gem of a legacy. This was so fun and sweet Cara, just wonderful.

    1. Amanda, I definitely need to blog more about my gems of legacy as well. Let’s remind each other to do that!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

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