It’s that time of the year again - the school nativity season.
A time when previously rational parents are reduced to misty-eyed, tissue clutching wreckages of emotional turmoil. There’s something about seeing your little tea towel adorned cherub doing their thing on that great big stage that brings out all kinds of feels. It consists of mostly fear (please don’t let them be the one that oversteps the side of the stage and plunges headfirst into the belly of the nearby piano), excitement (you’ll undoubtedly be off work), and pride (self-explanatory).
Being a closet “stage mom,” a child of mine being cast as Mary or Joseph is the stuff of my parental dreams. And so, in the days leading up to the revered “note home,” I had been furtively Googling how to fashion a fitted bedsheet into a Nazarene cloak in eager anticipation.
Then I found the folder-residing note to say my daughter was cow no.2. A lightly dialogued cow no.2, but a hooved animal nevertheless.
No one sets out in life aspiring to play the cow, do they? However…presuming there were actual cattle present at the birth of Jesus, then someone’s got to bloody well do it.
And so, as tempted as I was to sob into a vat of mulled wine and rip to shreds the speech I had prepared for the BAFTAs, I refrained. Instead, I gathered my resolve and told my daughter to be the best damn cow ever in the history of cows.
We practised her couple of lines over and over until she delivered them with such raw emotion that for a second I forgot she was a child and thought there was a generationally advanced, Oscar-nominated Friesian stood in our living room.
And as I pondered over our Aberdeen ‘Anguish’ (ha!) later that evening, I realised my daughter had inadvertently received a valuable life lesson.
Sometimes, in life, you’re cow no. 2.
Not everyone can be a Mary or Joseph of this world. Not everyone is centre stage, critically acclaimed, the star of their life’s show. Sometimes dreams, aspirations, goals don’t pan out in exactly the way we’d hoped or imagined. Sometimes you wind up in an office job that’s a bit monotonous, or with a house that’s not exactly the one you’d always dreamed of owning.
We’re constantly told to “aim high" and “dream big.” But sometimes, especially if you have kids and a mortgage, the monotonous office job or mediocre house is holding everything together. It’s money coming in, a roof over heads and food on the table.
It’s not a Broadway life, more of a cow no.2 life.
Not everyone gets the mansion styled to within an inch of its Inglenook fireplace. Not everyone gets a job that makes them happy to hear their alarm go off on a Monday morning. Not everyone gets to be Mary or Joseph.
And that’s OK. It doesn't equate to failure in my book. It doesn't mean life’s unfair. It doesn't mean you’ve had to “settle.” The world needs cows.
Not making the most of what you have been given? Now that would be defeat.
So, cows and donkeys of the nativity play, be proud of your hooves. Get out onto that big stage we call “Life” and be the best f*cking cow no.2 there’s ever been.