When I was in 7th grade, my parents took me to see our High School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof”. They created a bit of a monster, I’m afraid; I’ve been a huge fan of musicals from that day forward. I’ve seen a lot of them since then – both onstage and onscreen – however, that particular play has remained one of my all-time favorites.
“Fiddler on the Roof” was made into a movie back in 1971, and it happens be one of my all-time favorite movies as well. I have to admit, I hooked Paul on the movie not long after we started dating; the soundtrack is still one that we love to listen to in the car, and all of our girls grew up loving it as well.
It’s funny how things change as you grow older – as a young girl, I identified more with the daughters in the movie, but as time has gone on, I find myself identifying more and more with the parents in the movie (Paul and I have often joked that if we had only had one more daughter, we would actually BE the movie…..).
And I guess that’s why “Fiddler on the Roof” has stood the test of time – because at its heart, the story is universal. I never understood what my parents went through when Paul and I started dating, because I didn’t have enough experience to appreciate what they were feeling.
But as the saying goes, “Eventually you become your parents”, and Paul and I are finally starting to understand what it means to let your children go. We can now appreciate what our parents went through when WE were the young adults; all of a sudden we find that we have been cast in the role of Tevye and Golde, trying to make sense of this “new world”.
Our little girls have grown up now, and we are starting to have to watch them make their way in the world away from the security of, well….us.
There are some things that no parenting manual can prepare you for.
Like the day that someone (who, you are convinced, is way too young) comes along and sweeps your daughter off of her feet, and then the two of them start making serious plans about their future together.
All of a sudden, you’re not the one protecting her any more; some wet-behind-the-ears kid (who you are sure doesn’t have the first clue what he is doing) steps in and tells you that he wants to take over the job that you’ve been doing all these years.
(This is all done with your daughter’s consent, I might add…..)
You have to trust that this someone is going to cherish her and care for her as much as you have all these years; that he will do whatever it takes to protect her.
You have to somehow find the strength to step back and let your little girl walk into the loving embrace of someone who isn’t you.
And sometimes you have to watch as she willingly follows him to a place that is far, far away from where you are, and have faith that she will be all right.
One of the most hauntingly beautiful songs in “Fiddler on the Roof” is “Far From the Home I Love” – a daughter tells her father that she is leaving everything that she knew and loved as a child to travel to a cold and distant place to be with the man she loves; not because he asked her to, but because it’s what she wants to do.
Her father listens to this, remembering her as a young girl, wanting so much to keep her close to him, safe at home where he can look out for her, yet knowing that he has to let her go; knowing that he has to have faith that all will be well. After he has put her on the train – not knowing if he will ever see her again – he looks up to Heaven and says, “Take care of her. See that she dresses warm.”
I still cry every time I watch that.
Now it is our turn to play out that scene; one day in the not-too-distant future we may very well find that we are the ones praying that a daughter be kept safe and warm in a place far from home.
I’m going to cry then, too.