In middle school, I was the kid on the hot, sweaty dance floor who never knew a single lyric to a single song. 

In the moment, it all felt a little bit devastating, but in retrospect, my ignorance was all by design.

Growing up, listening to the radio didn’t quite qualify as “evil,” but my parents were following a path of redemption that caused them to shut out the world around them, so radios, PG-13 movies, and second-level curse words were never, ever allowed. 

It’s probably important to note at this point in the story that because their own childhoods were filled with the type of Baby Boomer trauma that registers as VERIFIABLE in any child psychology textbook, they knew that they had to make drastic changes if they had any chance of not reliving that trauma on repeat.

It’s probably also important to note that growing up as their child, those changes sucked. 

Case in point: 1993 | Lindsay | 16 years old: 

“Mom and dad, check out this cool CD I just bought!” [shows them the 80s love songs CD in its still-cellophane-wrapped case] 

“You’re taking that back. Those songs are about. . . [gasp] seeeeexxxxxx.” [zero questions. conversation over.]

Enter redemption: 2001 | Lindsay | 24 years old: 

“We’re sorry for being so hard on you. We wish we could have a do-over.” [heads hung low in shame and regret] 

At 24, I wasn’t quite sure a do-over was what my parents needed. 

At 45, I’m certain a do-over isn’t what they needed. 

As a parent of 4 kids ages 21 to 15, I’m starting to taste those bitter stings of regret. Just yesterday, my husband and I sat outside on our front porch, Ben wishing he had worked less hours when the kids were little. 

“I invested hours in OTHER people’s kids,” he said. 

“You did that so that I could be the one home with them. When you love your kids, when will you NOT wish you could go back and do some things over?” 

Turns out, there’s a lot in parenting you wish you could do over. But when I think about my own parents asking for a do-over, my answer to that wish is a big, fat NO.  

I know it’s all the rage right now to look back at your childhood and find all the reasons why your parents failed you, but when it comes to looking back at my own life, it’s crystal clear to me that every single one of my parents’ “faults” served as the foundation for my greatest strengths.  

>> I don’t feel compelled to blend in with the crowd because I found a way to fit in, even when I stood out – Milli-Vanilli-ing my way into the dance crowd with dozens of hormone-raging middle schoolers who all knew every verse and chorus to Debbie Gibson and Mötley Crüe. 

>>I don’t (usually) feel threatened by conflicting ideologies or different values because I learned how to make space for people to explore their ideas, their fears, and their convictions – returning an 80’s love songs CD because I chose honor over argument. 

>>I don’t hesitate to ask questions even when I think I’ve found the answers because I learned that sometimes, the path you think will redeem you doesn’t hold all the answers you’re looking for. 

These days, my go-to soundtrack for running is Spotify’s Top Hair Band Power Ballads.  If you ask me WHY that’s my soundtrack, I suppose I’d say that the rhythms of the songs match my slow runner’s pace, but if I’m being really honest and self-reflective, I think those songs tap into the part of Lindsay who grew up on someone else’s path and eventually found herself along the way. 

As I closed out my run today, Cinderella’s Nobody’s Fool was screaming in my ears. 

I’m not your fool (nobody’s fool)

Nobody’s fool

I’m no fool (nobody’s fool)

Nobody’s fool

Never again, no, no

(Nobody’s fool)

Nobody’s fool

I’m no fool

(Nobody’s fool)

Nobody’s fool

It made me think about how desperate we are to show up in our worlds with all the answers. 

Not a single one of us wants to be the fool, but as I careen towards 50, I think I’m discovering that sometimes, being the fool is the best role you can play – the fool who asks questions, the fool who doesn’t have to have all the answers, the fool who doesn’t disparage other viewpoints, the fool who doesn’t shut out wisdom, the fool who doesn’t forget the lessons of her past. 

More foolishness can mean more humility, more kindness, more curiosity, more openness, more dialogue, and more growth.

If being the fool means that I get to keep on growing and learning, then so be it.

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