Saturday, June 8, 2013

Can We Talk Dance?

I need information and I need it quickly.

I'm stepping out  here on the stage and saying in plain view...

"I am not a dance mom. Never have been a dance mom."

Not that there's anything wrong with being a dance mom. One of my dearest friends is a dance mom.
She would also be the first one to tell you how different we are.

Even with three daughters, I've always skirted around the dancing arena. We've danced. We've danced for years. But we kept it in a safe do-able zone: dance studio only. During all those years of dance, the yearly recital was as ditzy as we got.

With our oldest daughter, there were babies at home. That was my excuse. I could not travel to the ends of the earth for dance competition. Just couldn't do it.

I put our oldest in summer dance camps and she took a year of dance before deciding to play soccer like her older brother. Then in junior high she found herself happily back on the plie' and pointe trail. We found a studio across the street and she walked back and forth to perform on a dance line. Then she literally did break a leg (ie: her ankle, to be exact) one forlorn, horrible summer after Meme died and the Blue Bayou Waterpark weekend trip had to be postponed and she missed most of the dance practices and almost all of the performances because of that bad luck send off.

I was busy with her younger siblings and an ailing grandfather. Today I wonder and worry if I tended enough to the broken heart sitting on the front porch with a booted leg and no where to go and nothing to do.

That year set her back. She didn't dance in high school. Her hip ached, but teenagers often have growing pains so we didn't think too much about the aches. Thus ended those happy years of dance. She became committed to her studies instead. She thought she'd like to become a dietician. In college she found out the cause for the hip pain. She had hip dysplasia. She committed herself her studies and became a nurse instead.
{Kayleigh on far right}
Her younger sisters were full stint into dance and we went weekly to a new dance studio with the teacher who had always taught them ballet and whom they loved. Kayleigh had already committed herself to her studies and health.

Before high school, the second daughter turned her pointe shoes in for soccer cleats. There are times she pines for those dance shoes.

That left just one little lady in dance and there were no more babies at home.

Only there is...

Mommy and Daddy must work and that leaves MayMay and the aunties helping to watch him during the week, along with Aunt Krystle. We know our time with him is very special and very needed. MayMay knows more than anyone in this household how quickly these precious years dance by. We are committed to giving his parents much needed support and helping raise this little guy.

I'm not going to say it's easy and all snuggly lavender-scented kisses. Babies press your life on pause. They definitely slow your feet. We've gotten quick paced around this Cajun Cottage. On days Hudson joins us we have to replan our days. Often it's easier to plant our feet at home and home is a strange oasis when one has teenagers.

But he's a very precious part of our weekly dance. He's part of our new normal.

But there is the one little dancer left. She's worked hard this year and has never once complained. She has begged for more dance. She set her goals this year to be on the competition team.

This week Oma helped to get her to the studio and she came home so tired that she showered and put her pajamas straight on then relaxed into the evening. We thought maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't make the team and we wouldn't have to worry.

We wouldn't have to worry about how to say "No"?

I talked to several dance moms and asked for price amounts and travel expense and gleaned information. I'm use to ball travel. That's a fun prospect for me. We've done it. We've done it for over 20 years. We loved it. 

But I am not a patron of back stage anything. I'm the mom who, when she could, sent the oldest sister to the back room on recital afternoons. I'm the mom who gets the older girls and their friends to do the hair and make-up so I don't have to. I'm the mom of three girls who has never learned to French braid hair. I'm the mom who almost never wears make-up anymore. It's become an added chore. And the low-down is that dancing stages seems to exceed ball sports in financial areas.

My husband and I talked. All these years we've told her No. Too expensive. Too busy. Too much on the calendar. Too much of everything else. This year we told Annie she could try out but we could not promise she could be on the team due to the expense and travel time.

How could I justify spending so much money for one little girl to dance!?!

I couldn't.

There are fund-raisers offered. Still...

I'm tired of fund-raisers and they never raise nearly enough money. Never!

What about having to flex tender hearts alongside dance moms who are just that? Dance moms!

That's not my personality. People who are overtly self-confidence and ooz self-assurance make me a tad uncomfortable. By gene-pool, my personality is mild-mannered. By upbringing I am humble. Self-arrogance hinders me.

Then a friend told me that maybe...perhaps...just think...could it be that in thinking these thoughts that I was the one who was overtly confident? overtly self-assured? Not humble enough to face the music. Maybe...perhaps...just think...could it be that I'm the one being self-arrogant in the pirouette of mothers backstage?


What I am faced with today is this last little daughter...this last little dancer who is not living in the same world I grew up in. It is not prized to be mildly-mannered. It is not cool to be humble.

This world spins of extroverts. It spins at a dizzy pace. You must spin or you are left in the dark wings with the dust of ghosts who never danced. And you must ask questions.

When is it our dance versus our child's dance?

When is it self-seeking versus soul-searching?

When is it goal-keeping versus God-catching?

When is it ego-leading versus talent-lending?

When does a parent who does not need the applause (introvert), bow recognition to the child who does (extrovert)?

In many ways, by missing the dance, my older daughters learned compassion and understanding concerning the heartache and sufferings of others. They learned lessons and have become wiser people because we could not participate in the dance with them.

Over everything they learned acceptance as a level of maturity sometimes not reached until one is in their thirties or forties.

That's not a bad thing.

In learning acceptance we learn to dance wherever life leads us.

Our last little dancer tried out for the competition dance team last week. I didn't realize how much I cared until saw the nervousness on her face when I collected her after facing a panel of judges. I saw the worry of not being good enough.

To be judged. Gosh, to be judged!

I know that fear. We all do.

I bit my nails that morning and I paced a tightrope made of nerves that afternoon.

How could I say "No"?

Our last little dancer made team last week. She scored a duet as well.

And so there is the concern of expense. And the anxiety of travel. And the swooning of time. And the logistics of leaving responsibilities at home.

And the question peeks out from behind the curtain, "What is wrong with quietly knowing who you are and not needing an audience to give you calm self-assurance about one's life, one's call, one's body, one's personality, one's dance?"

That may be where I'm at, but I'm looking at life through the eyes of an 11 year old. She hasn't learned that solo part of the dance. That beautiful part of the dance. That part of life that teaches you best and, after all the bumps and thumps and breaks and recitals and practices and rejects and mishaps and bad lighting, leaves you firmly on your own two feet.

She hasn't learned all that. Yet.

And she faces a world where people are overtly confident. They're spinning crazily and admired for that craziness. I don't want her a part of the craziness but I need to help her remain rooted as these tornados threaten to throw her off center.

It's part of my job as a parent.

The band plays and we dance this delicate dance together as parents and children. It's the most delicate dance of all...and the most complicated.

It's the longest dance of all. And the most beautiful.

I want to make sure we dance this dance well.
Sometimes it means breathing deep and saying Yes.
{very blurred but Annie is in the middle receiving a summer scholarship at recital}

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