In January of 1977 I was seven years old. And in January of 1977 Walt Disney Productions launched The New Mickey Mouse Club.
I was sitting in our family room, a cold exterior room enclosed by jalousie glass on two sides, a front door, and a wall that opened into our dining room. My parents called it the solarium. My brother, sister, and I called it the solary-room. In that room there was a cold brick floor, a twin bed that was set up like some kind of day bed, but really it was just a twin bed that we’d lay around on while watching television. And the wooden rocking chair where our mom would rock us and tickle our backs while we watched The Love Boat and Fantasy Island with all the lights turned out.
On this particular night, the producers of The New Mickey Mouse Club were announcing the name of someone from the viewing audience who was going to be selected as one of the new Mouseketeers. I think the announcement was being made as part of a half-time show for the Super Bowl.
And I was sure they were going to say my name.
I was so sure, that when they called someone else’s name, I broke down into sobbing, heaving, gut-wrenching seven-year-old tears of disappointment, the kind of disappointment that you just can’t understand. The kind of disappointment that makes you cry so hard you can’t breathe and you start hiccupping and all you really want is for someone to hold you and rock you. I ran into the kitchen in my polyester pajamas and bathrobe and flat slippers. And I cried and I cried. One of my parents came to console me for a moment – was it my mother or my father? I can’t remember now. They said that really all the boys and girls watching were going to get to be part of The New Mickey Mouse Club, so really it wasn’t all that bad, I could still be a Mouseketeer. In my little girl mind I thought to myself “You don’t understand! It’s not the same. I wanted them to pick me. I thought they were going to PICK ME.”
By that point in my life my mother was already sick with cancer. And just 18 months after that my father would die in his sleep. Already at seven, I understood some things about life and soon I would also learn some things about death. But mostly what I understood right then was about wanting to feel special. Wanting to feel chosen. I wanted to be picked. I wanted it to be me.
At the time of this writing, I’m three hours shy of 42 years old. I’m thinking about a man I love, a man who is uncertain about making a 12 week commitment to do some work on our relationship; a man who is uncertain about his feelings for me; a man who – I suspect — is uncertain about his feelings in general; a man who told me I would never be at the top of his priority list, that God and his work would always come before me. I’m a Life Coach, and so I’m onto him.
And – don’t worry — I’m onto me too.
I ask myself why I’m hanging on in the middle of the uncertainty. There are a lot of possible answers. I care about him, and I know that he cares about me, even if he’s not sure whether he loves me. I imagine a future with him. I think and feel that I’m better when I’m with him than when I’m without him. But really, none of these are the real reason I’m sticking around, pondering whether he will wake up one day and magically want to give me what I need, whether he will suddenly become emotionally available and that a 12 week commitment won’t scare him, whether I will be able to compete with God or work on his ‘list.’ No, those questions are good and interesting and important. But they’re not it. They aren’t the things keeping me around.
It’s because I want him to pick me.
It’s because he’s 48 and he’s never been married. And he’s an artist and an architect. And he’s kind and gentle and funny. And he’s handsome and healthy. And his longest relationship was seven months.
It’s because I want to be the woman that he picks. The one who finally wakes him up from his sleep. The one who rocks his world to the point that he can’t imagine life without me. I want to be the beautiful, smart, charismatic, charming, elegant, quirky, edgy, funny, wonderful woman of his dreams. I want to be the one that re-writes his history.
I do. I want him to pick me.
And so the question, tonight: what do you do when you’re seven – or about to turn 42 – and you want to be picked. And really the odds just aren’t looking so good — from the television view of the 1977 Super Bowl or through the lens of a 42 year old heart that just wants…to be picked.
The Coach, and the Mom, inside of me knows the answer here. Pick yourself. Choose yourself and your own integrity, your own heart, above all else. But the would-be-mouseketeer in me really just wants a hug. I can coach myself right out of the false beliefs that would keep me hanging on to an impossible situation. But actually, just for this moment, I’m going to hang out with that seven year-old little girl in her polyester pajamas and flat slippers. On to the self-coaching tomorrow or maybe the next day. But for now, I’m hanging with my seven year-old me.