She Danced.

You need to know, I am not a “frilly-froo-froo-girly-girl” person. I never have been, and I daresay, I will never become one.

So when my mother decided to head on out of town for a night, a night that conveniently happened to be the same night of Brooke’s dress rehearsal for her much anticipated big dance recital, she ran through the schedule of the evening with me…and then dropped the bomb. “So, you’ll be the ‘Stage Mom’. You know, make sure she’s dressed, has her makeup on, hang out backstage with all the little girls and make sure they get on stage when they’re supposed to. No big deal.”

Stage Mom. Right. Me, a dressing room full of half-naked, tutu-ed, twirling children, and more hairspray and tulle than I’ve ever seen in my life.

Lord help us all.

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She was obviously more thrilled about this dance mom thing than I was. High hopes, low expectations, people.

Thanks to Erica and a Barbie makeup kit she found shoved under a seat in the car, we successfully navigated our first crisis, and arrived three minutes late for her call time. (I missed the “Full Hair And Makeup Required Upon Arrival” memo, obviously.)

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To be clear, Erica was put in charge of applying Brooke’s hair and makeup as we screamed down the highway. Dinner was a bag of Lays. Mothers everywhere, I respect you.

The evening was everything I imagined it would be, and more. It was full of lights, sequins, over-dramatic children and even more dramatic mothers. I put Brooke’s tights on backwards and her hair just.wouldn’t.stay in the nice neat little bun I tried to create. I dropped her hair bow in the toilet of the way-too-small restroom stall while finagling costumes with 800 layers of who-knows-what, and then PUT THE DANG HAIRBOW BACK ON HER HEAD because what else am I supposed to do, okay?

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Sorry mom, your daughter went on stage with a still dripping, toilet water soaked hairbow for her first dance recital. It is what it is, people.

Everything I expected. But the more? Everything I expected and more? The “more” is what floored me. I expected the crisis. I expected drama.

I did not expect to be standing on the side of that stage, holding back tears. I didn’t expect to be taught a lesson about how to live my life as I watched Brooke click-clack-tap onto that stage.

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Brooke didn’t know the dance step for step. None of the girls did. Their dance wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t full of impressive steps, beautiful choreography, or perfect synchronization. But as I watched Brooke dance, I saw strength in her sassy sa-shay walk with her “click-clack” shoes and still dripping hairbow as she strutted onto the stage with her hand on her hip. I saw joy in the mega-watt smile she couldn’t keep off her face. I saw hope in the way she was able to jump, tap, and kick with her classmates; her brave heart scar peeking out of her leotard to tell of the journey she’s been on to make it to this point.

She danced with confidence. She messed up. A lot. She made wrong steps, turned around when the other kids were facing forward. She jumped up when they sat down. And yes, she even tripped over her own two feet and landed smack on her booty. Twice. But she didn’t care. She danced on, oblivious to the “imperfections”, unaware of any hesitation. All in. 100%. No turning back.

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How often do we dance like this? In our dance of life, the fear of imperfection, of a misstep, a “jump up” when others “jump down”, dreading a moment when we might fall. How often do these fears hold us back from taking that leap, that first step into uncharted waters? How often do they prevent us from even trying at all, willing to stay in the comfort of the known and safe of our lives?

I hope I choose courage.

I hope I live each day learning to risk; willing to fall. Because without risking, without falling, without ever learning to pick ourselves back up again to try yet another time, we can’t grow. We can’t change. We can’t reach what might be just in front of us if we had been willing to risk that one scary step, when you just can’t remember if the next step is supposed to be “right foot tap or left foot tap”.

Brooke chose to dance. And as I stood there watching her flit around that stage, I realized that in the waltz of my life, I hope I choose to dance too.

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