When I reflect on Emilia and Caroline’s first ballet experience last year (2018-2019), I feel mixed emotions. Watching the girls dance each week was the obvious highlight, the piece I’d repeatedly remind myself how blessed I was to be able to be present for thanks to our family decision for me to be home with our kids. But the details of it all, well, it was very intense, to say the least.
From hunting down tights, missing shoes and the repeatedly mislain leotard EVERY SINGLE WEEK — TWICE since they attended classes on different days — to convincing an exhausted 3-year old to even attend when she was in a mood and not up for it whatsoever, to wrangling a baby who never sat still in a tiny waiting room during Emilia’s 45-minute class, after waking her early from what was usually her longest and most needed nap of the day, (unless I could find a sitter to come be in our house with her for the 35 minute overlap from the class start to the finish), committing to ballet for two children three and under, one my own, for most of winter is the stuff of saints!
That said, I would do it all a thousand times over to experience the look of pride and excitement on E’s face when she showed me her recital outfit for the first time. It’s in those precious moments especially that I really understand what it’s like to feel like my heart may actually burst with love. To have the honor of witnessing those “first” moments with my girls — it’s absolutely everything I love about being a mother. The wonder, the magic, and the excitement.
As they grow, I want to be cautious that they’re doing these activities because they want to, while recognizing that sometimes, kids need a push to continue, as I did when I wanted to quit violin. I remember quitting ballet quite young — not because I didn’t love it, but because I developed a terrible opinion about how I looked in a leotard — I thought I was fat at 7 years old! My teacher wouldn’t let students take just tap, so it was tap and ballet or nothing, and so, sadly, that was the end of my ballet career. Thinking back on it now, I wish we’d have found another dance studio, but it wasn’t in the stars I guess. Later, when my sister took Irish Step Dancing, I remember sitting out for that too, because I thought my calves would look to enormous in the thick, knit step dancing socks you’re made to wear.
It’s painful to reflect on these topics, but I think part of motherhood is coming face to face with your own childhood experiences and being able to view them through the wizened lense of experience, and move forward with whatever you can take away from that, and, hopefully make a better go at it for your own children.