If you have any doubt that your kids are in command, try finding a way to go to the bathroom solo during their first five years here on planet Earth. Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that their longings and aspirations are suddenly your longings and aspirations, the boat tends to right itself a little (maybe every other day) and the sails catch some wind- among other things.
Olivia: “Mom, I want to be in the Nutcracker.”
(That very afternoon)….Adult boots up computer to google local dance schools. Prods the public via Facebook regarding which one is the best. Downloads the entire composition history of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky on iTunes. You Tubes Sugar Plum Fairy and forces kid to watch- but she ends up mostly staring at me watching the screen with an overload of goofy grinning and nodding.
Last weekend. Dance recital weekend.
Hello. My name is Shannon, and I am a Dance Mom.
Mind you, Ballet was one-third of what we ended up signing up for in the end. There is also Tap and Hip Hop in the apparent Nutcracker for which my daughter aspires. And gold hair glitter. And four (counted them 40 times) costumes at $80 a pop. Not including alterations.
Yes, that sound is the dear Tchaikovsky pirouetting in his grave. It is also the sound of my pocket change hitting a therapist’s bank account.
Dance has always been one of my favorite corners of the arts. Never a dancer myself (save a few tables that I choose not to discuss), I love to watch people dance. I wish that the The Nutcracker would run year-round. And all of the other genres are equally fascinating. Name your vernacular. Jazz, Modern, Swing. Michael Flatley, Cirque, Stomp, Line, Belly Dance. Ok, even the Electric Slide. Olivia and I were actually lucky enough to watch the Nashville Ballet troupe rehearse for the Nutcracker last fall. I had chillbumps the whole time. When I yelled, “Look, that’s the guy who plays Drosselmeyer!” about some recognizable guy in sweats and a wifebeater, Olivia turned pink and leaned over to get an imaginary piece of lint behind her seat.
So, I thought that I knew what I was signing up for with this dance thing. And I did. Not.
Over the course of the weekend, I:
-Nearly fainted from lack of time to eat. These performance weekends are no damn joke. Made a cold cloth from the high school auditorium’s inabsorbent bathroom paper towels for my forehead. The first time I have been allowed solo in a loo since I can remember.
-Hot glued my fingers together trying to mend a sudden hole in another child’s much too small costume. I am lucky that I am not being sued for causing that one some emotional distress. Hoping to rush the statute of limitations on that if possible.
-Learned that 9 year olds do, in fact, require deoderant. Did not know that. There is just nothing sugar plum-like about discovering this the hard way. It induced what can only be classified as morning sickness on a non-prego person.
-Learned that other moms are freaking nuts. And if their kid’s tap shoelace flies out during their time on stage, it will be YOUR fault as a backstage mom for not double-tying it tight enough. At age 9. Or as I now like to call it…108 months.
-Learned that my daughter likes to try to do the worm to entertain others while waiting for her stage call. On a carpet littered with more bobby pins than Joan Rivers has botox pricks. This, mind you, will invariably result in ripped (make that gashed) tights when it is much too late to replace them.
And so while the show was a HUGE HIT after ten months of practice and preparation…and I cried proud tears …and we slept for 12 hours straight on Sunday, I have learned one other irreplaceable truth. That it is fun and HARD work to support someone else’s dreams. Almost as FUN and HARD as chasing your own.
Bigger Truth? I would do it all over again and probably will. Does that mean that I won’t make a hard sell with some cleats and a lacrosse stick pretty soon? Yes, I will be doing that. In fact, heading to the sporting goods store sometime this week. Bank on it. And bank on the fact that I can do a helluva Dougie myself now. Free lessons if you want. Bring your own Tchaikovsky and wine.
(My dancer, age 8, the morning of the big show. June 2012)