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My First Dance Mom Experience

26 Jan

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.


Our New Approach to Valentine’s Day

2 Feb

Brian and Wendy Engagement - Series 1-27

It might surprise some readers to learn that Valentine’s Day isn’t high on my list of favorite gift-giving occasions. Maybe it’s just where we are in our lives as parents (utter chaos with two little ones!) but the idea of giving some trinket of affection when all we want is 8-consecutive hours of sleep seems silly. And over the years, the ritual of hunting down the requisite chocolates/flowers often feels forced, commercialized, and impersonal.

Therefore this year, I suggested a new approach. Now I should remind you that “gifting” is one of my love languages. I will never NOT find immense pleasure in gift-giving, because for me, the thought and care I put into selecting what I give someone is the highest expression of my love.  Now I know some couples don’t gift at all, choosing instead to put effort (and funds) towards travel or other large purchases, but I personally, wouldn’t find much satisfaction in that. I’d rather prioritize the effort and care of gift selection and keep travel or saving for large purchases a separate aspect of our lives.

Still, in an effort to take some pressure off, I suggested that Brian and I take turns “gifting” and planning out how we will celebrate various anniversaries and occasions throughout the year. He is planning and gifting for me this Valentine’s Day, and I’ll plan and gift to him for our wedding anniversary. Squee!! I’m already giddy!!

I can’t take credit for this brilliant idea though — I learned this awesome tip from Jordan Page of Fun, Cheap or Free. In one of my YouTube walkabouts last month, I watched the above video where she and her husband explained how they plan out their entire year in advance using Google Calendar, (including date nights) and how they alternate planning and gifting each other for Valentine’s Day and their Anniversary. The idea absolutely thrilled me. (Here is a link to the post detailing how they do it.)

Immediately, I set up a standing Saturday night date night for Brian and I which we alternate planning. Brian is in charge of planning our next one and it’s almost silly how excited I am to see what he is planning. When we first started dating, he planned the most fun, interesting, and different dates. We went to museums, lectures, wine tastings. It was a constant flow of new and different activities and adventures which “fits” both of our personalities really well.

Brilliant, right? After so many years with a partner, who doesn’t long for those exciting “dating” days. Well, this is exactly how to re-inject some of that back into your life. Another tip I remember reading sometime in the summer of 2018 was to just book out a bunch of dinner reservations, put them all on your calendar and then when you see the reservation — boom: you have plans for the night without having to agonize over what to do and when. Possibly another idea by Emily Ley, who I’ve blogged about before.

Anyways, I strongly encourage you to consider this approach if you’re feeling a little weary of the traditional “roses, chocolates & dinner-out” type of Valentine’s Day. Spice it up! And alternate planning and spoiling your partner.