So it’s official. I’m a dance mom.
I never thought I would say that, but I also never thought I would allow a 6 foot plastic basketball hoop in my living room or skip reading with my kids at night, but motherhood happens.
When I thought of my future with my kids, I saw ball fields and volleyball courts. And the fact that Elle came out of the womb 10 pounds 2 oz. and 23 1/2 inches long — I thought I just might have the Amazon woman I always wanted to be. I just might have my Olympic volleyball player.
Fast forward a few years and Elle was still fitting in to 24 month clothes at age 5 and she had no interest in any kind of sport. I denied her lack of athleticism for a bit and tried putting her in organized team sports, but all it took was one soccer ball to the face and she refused to go back. Her actual hatred of field day and just the way she moved her body were other clues that sports might not be Elle’s path in life.
I grieved a little bit for the loss of MY dreams for my child and for myself. The no-sports life was hard for me to accept at first, but I knew I had to move on. I reluctantly put her in recreational dance classes here and there. She seemed to do well, but I was uncomfortable with the whole dance scene- the make-up, the costumes, the hair dos, the moves, the vocabulary, the hoards of flowers at the end of a recital … It was a foreign world and I was completely out of my element.
Finally, after trying different kinds of dance classes Elle and I both realized that ballet might be more of her thing. I enrolled her in a casual ballet class once a week at a legit dance studio just to keep her moving and involved and developing talents. I had no intention of pursuing a more rigourous dance training.
That is until I sat across from Elle’s ballet teacher at my first ever Dance Parent Teacher Conference. I didn’t even know those kind of meetings existed until two months ago. Elle’s teacher just raved about her body alignment, her focus, her turnout, and her feet. She was talking jibberish as far as I was concerned. But Elle’s teacher seemed to be so impressed with Elle’s natural abililty and mental focus, and she thought Elle had much potential in the world of ballet. She wanted Elle to try out for their ballet company.
I sat there kind of stunned. To see me, is to know why. I have never danced, am as flexible as a stick and am anything but graceful and refined. Is this MY child you are talking about? I kind of teared up as her teacher gushed about Elle. Partly because I had major allergies, partly because of the irony, and partly because it was so nice to hear someone rave about my kid no matter the topic.
I left the PTC feeling a little confused. What was I supposed to do with this info? And what did that mean for our family? I started to get a pit in my stomach.
When I got home I felt a little guilty. So many moms would love to hear that kind of feedback about their girls. It would be their dream come true to have a dance teacher rave about their children and ask them to try out. So many moms want dance or ballet for their child and here I was totally uncomfortable and burdened by the compliments.
As the weeks went on, we thought about the ballet company. I told you of my internal struggle back here and as I thought about the whole thing I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t tell if my stomach was in knots because the ballet company was the wrong thing to do or because I knew it was the right thing to do for Elle and I was going to be uncomfortable with what that meant for my life. A couple weeks passed and the knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away.
I decided to go down the road that left the most options open for us.
So I let Elle try out for ballet company. After tryouts, I found myself checking the studio’s website to see if she made it. I actually felt excited and nervous each time I pulled up the website. Elle and I were both happy to see that she made the mini ballet company!
But we didn’t have to sign the contract until June 1 so we took some time to think more about the commitment.
I know many of you are thinking, “It’s just ballet. What is the big deal? Sign the dang papers!” But besides my precious family dinner time, the significant monthly costs, and the hectic schedule, there was a year long contract involved. Once you signed you were locked into practices multiple times a week including summer and payments for a year, even if you backed out.
And I wasn’t sure about Elle’s commitment level. She is a normal girl with pre-teen hormones so sometimes she loves dance and other times I am dragging a screaming diva into the car. I couldn’t tell if dance were her passion or not.
Plus, like me or not, for better or worse, I am a thinker. I don’t do things just because everyone else does or because it is what you do around here or because that ‘s what I did when I was a kid. I make decisons based on what is best for my family and me at that time based on my core beliefs.
I finally realized the only way to know what is best for me and my family is to pray about it. If God wants us to pray over our fields and our flocks, then I was sure we could pray over a ballet decision. And since I was going to ultimately leave the decision up to Elle, I knew Elle needed to pray about it too.
First, Elle and I talked about how prayers are answered — that you weigh the options out in your mind first. Then you make a decision and pray if your decision is right.
We started weighing the decision out in our mind with some hard talks about the real facts. I wanted Elle to know what she would be getting in to (and it is possible that I was trying to disuade her a bit.)
I said, “You know your feet will be really ugly.” Elle replied, “Mom! I am not going to make a decision based on looks — that is not important.”
Then I said, “You know ballet can be really hard. It’s not the fun kind of dance.” And without missing a beat Elle came back with “Yes, mom, but I can do hard things.”
Dang she’s good. Her mature responses were a good sign that she was up to the task.
We also made a T-chart of the pros and cons of ballet and being on a dance company.
Finally, we asked dad what he thought. After all, he plays a major part in the peace and success of our home and too often dad’s are left out of these kind of decisions. It is mom running the show and dad being told what is going on. But I wanted it to be a team decision because it was going to take a team to pull it off.
Chad was in favor of the dance company and one of the biggest reasons was because he felt that Elle needed to learn resilency. We had read this article in the Ensign awhile back on “Raising Resilent Children” and we knew we needed to help our children in this area. Being committed to something hard and competative and long term can build resilency.
I wanted to do the ballet company this year because I thought it was the perfect time to let Elle experiment and see if ballet were her passion. She would never know unless she were exposed to more dance. And since this was her last year in elementary, this was the year to change things up a bit. If I waited until Jr. High that might be too much change at once. I also felt if I waited too much longer, she would be out of the appropriate age range for different classes.
After we gathered all the info, we made our decision. Elle and I both decided she wanted to do the ballet company.
Then we knelt in her bed together. I said the prayer as to model for her how it could be done. I said something like, “Elle has decided she would like to do the ballet company. Is this what is best for Elle and our family at this time?” I felt completely inadequate to be teaching another about getting answers to prayer. I wanted someone there to be modeling for me how it was to be done.
In the middle of the prayer, I whispered to Elle, “We are just going to kneel her for a minute and see if we feel anything.” An awkward silence passed and I couldn’t handle the stillness anymore so I ended the prayer.
Then after ‘Amen’, I explained to her that she shouldn’t expect some grand answer like a vision or something. I just told her to listen to her heart and her gut and her feelings, and hopefully she would know. I explained that she may feel peace or she may feel unsettled depending on what was right for her. Again I felt inadequate and wished I knew how to explain the Spirit to her better.
We pondered our decision for a few days. We continued to pray. I checked in with Elle daily to see how she felt about it.
The bottom line was Elle was happy and cheerful about her decision and my sick stomach went away. We both felt good about her being in the ballet company. The commitment was no longer scary to me. So in the end, I signed the contract.
She starts today.
This whole saga was a wonderful learning experience.
I have been reminded that
- we can pray to Heavenly Father about all things that matter to us
- personal revelation brings confidence
- personal revelation doesn’t necessarily bring ease
- sometimes it is necessary to give up our dreams so our kids can pursue their own dreams
- no one knows better than you for your family
- empathy and understanding goes a long way (thanks to those of you who were supportive of our journey)
- what is right for one family is not necessarily right for another
- parents are responsible to help their children understand how revelation works
I’m a dance mom and I’ve got this! (Check in with me in 6 months and see how I’m doing.)