Finally, the big night was here. The night that most parents rave about as their baby girl or boy gets to shine on the big stage. As chaos, clutter, so many kids and costumes filled the changing rooms, so did excitement from all the proud parents who could not wait to see the big dance recital.
And then there was me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see my babies perform. But this big night really only excites me for one reason: dance season was finally over.
You see, I am not a very good dance mom — I kind of don’t fit the mold. First of all, it is like the longest season ever. Seriously, it is dedication from September through April. That’s a lot on a working parent, especially when the dance studio is 25 minutes from our house.
Plus, I struggle every year with caking my already-beautiful children’s faces with makeup and watching them strut their stuff in front of large crowds in outfits suitable for the beach — even if they do look so darn cute!
And the actual dance recital night, it is a lot of work! Rushing from my seat to their room after each individual performance to get them changed and prepped for the next dance (times two kids) and still making it back to my seat before one of them comes on, is not my idea of fun. It does, however, speed up the night. I am just not the mom reapplying lipstick and fixing curls in between numbers. Outfit, shoes, bow. Yep, you are good to go.
Yes, I realize that both of my girls started at age 2, well before they could make their own decisions. I know I did this to myself, but for good reason. I wanted them to have some social interaction before they started school. Plus, this basketball mom was hopeful that some balance and coordination will come out of the years of dancing. And to be honest, that was really all that I expected to come out of it.
But what I found — this year especially — was so much more.
You see, with the preparation that goes into the big night — the weekly practices all year long, repetition, staging night and the full-blown rehearsal — the kids are ready. Somewhere along the line of teaching dance moves (and inevitably teaching them again and again because the kiddos are so young), trust and love are built up between the instructors and the students. When they step out on that stage, the kids believe in themselves.
But you know what isn’t specifically taught during those months of preparation? What to do when your strap comes undone on your tap shoe in the middle of your song while you are center stage in front of the crowd.
Nothing could have prepared Maylie for that.
I mean, it was her time to shine! She had waited months — all year — for that moment. For a second, I wanted to run up there and swoop her off stage, save her the humiliation. After all, I wasn’t going to let a little glitch in her shoe (that I blamed myself about), ruin everything she worked so hard for.
But little did I know that neither was she. Oh no, my Maylie Jane, she rose above! Most people, including family members, had no idea she had a shoe malfunction. Oh, she noticed it — for a second, she looked down. She could have fallen apart. She could have given up right then and there. She could have made a big deal about it or melted down.
Instead, with encouragement from her amazing instructors in the pit, her smile never left her face. While secretly scrunching her toes to hold her shoe on, Maylie pressed forward through that entire song and put her heart and soul into hitting those dance moves. She totally rocked it.
And that, the tenacity and determination of my baby girl overcoming what could have been a complete disaster, showed me that there is way more to dance than socializing, balance and memorizing moves.
My heart swelled with pride that night knowing that my little girl gets it, that I no longer need to immediately jump up to save her in uncomfortable situations. Whether on the big stage or the stage of life, she showed me that she can handle adversity even during what should be her brightest moments.
After all, the show must go on. And she knows — she has proven — that all she needs to do is never stop dancing.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.