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Kris Belcher

May 08, 2012

It was to be my greatest role ever! True, I was only in the sixth grade, but my part as Jumbo the elephant in the school play would launch my acting career for sure. I was to share the large gray elephant costume with my friend Katie, who would be the two front legs and head, while I was the back legs and rear end. Hmm. I hope that wasn’t typecasting.

We were to sing a beautiful duet as Jumbo with an English accent and we felt like stars as we practiced. But, a few days before the performance, Katie got the chicken pox, and I was left to play the part of the pachyderm alone. Although I felt sorry for my friend, I was secretly thrilled for my chance to shine. I was promoted from the rear end of Jumbo, to be the entire animal. I would now wear the papier-mâché elephant head, as well as the tail, and it would only be my English accented song which would sound from the cardboard paper-towel-tube trunk. I was nervous, but very excited.

The big night arrived, and I sang proudly in the chorus. Midway through the play, a few minutes before I would make my debut as Jumbo, disaster struck. A student on the front row of the risers stole my thunder. Right in the middle of our performance, he threw up. It’s true. Then he made his way toward the wings, and mid-stride, once again, he vomited all over the stage. Talk about a show stopper. The entire auditorium was stunned into complete silence. 

For several moments, no one moved. At last, a member of the audience came on stage to clean up the mess. When his job was complete, he whispered to all of us on the risers, “The show must go on!”

That was it! All my dreams of stardom vanished with the vomit! 

The show did go on, and I sang my well-rehearsed part; however, I was not the star as I had anticipated. When my “would be” legendary night is recalled, it is the boy on the risers with the flu, and the volunteer janitor (my father) who claim the spotlight.

At times, doesn’t motherhood seem similar to my elephant experience? I mean, if you’re anything like me, for years, we dream of the day when we will be mothers, and when that wonderful day comes, somewhere between the diapers and no sleep we are surprised that it’s not quite the perfection we imagined. But even with the alarming differences there also comes the humor, the memories, the connections made between women, and a strength we find within ourselves that we didn’t even know existed. And, in the end, I wouldn’t trade it for anything—even with the vomit.