It’s the Monday after my little people’s first dance recital and I’m barely alive and grinning from ear to ear, but I’m exhausted. I’m so proud that they/we finally committed to an activity and finished it! They joined dance on a whim because their BFF was already going. They took to it right away, unlike soccer, and really seemed to enjoying dancing with their new friends. I enjoyed dancing when I was younger, clogging to be specific, and I was so excited to see how they liked something that really shaped my early years.
I didn’t actually realize there would be a real recital when I signed them up. Easy enough, I was a dancer, I can totes be a Dance Mom too. Come to find out this whole recital thing was serious business and I wasn’t prepared. As a kid when I would hit the stage, I just learned the moves ahead of time, showed up on time, and had some fun, maybe even win a trophy or two. Never once thought about all the work that got me there.
We were a few weeks out and things go super serious. Costumes, buying tickets from a crazed lottery (almost had to sit in the nosebleeds), must attend dance practices, pictures, tech rehearsals, and finally the big day. Most Wednesdays I am barely getting them to class on time, let alone not 1 min late to the team picture or you’re out, in costume, full makeup, and fancy hair.
On picture day I stopped in to RiteAid to grab some quick essentials after realizing they needed to be “dance ready”. Hairspray, lipstick, combs, blush, and mascara, I can do this! Get to the studio and miraculously get Harper’s hair and makeup done in 2.0 seconds flat. Reid’s costume didn’t come with the others so I was flying blind in terms of his reaction. He’s a planner, that guy, no surprises or new things, please. He loved the vest and the birthday hat, but hated everything else. Maybe he could pull off a suave toddler look and just wear that? The pants were way too long and that sent him into a spiral. At about this time we realized the photo form had to be completed and filled out before they were allowed in the room. Cue the stress limits starting to spike.
Thank goodness for a plain pair of black pants I had stashed in my mom rucksack or he wouldn’t have made the pics. Thirty bucks and some really sweaty pits later, we barely escaped picture day alive. At this point I’m starting to wonder if I’m cut out to be a Dance Mom. Most others were looking so poised and their little ballerinas looked like that were in a magazine. I’m pretty sure mine actually had dirt on her face and dirt under her nails and I couldn’t tell if she showed up to dance pictures or to hang with Bear Grilles in the wilderness.
Fast forward to the Wednesday before the recital, “tech rehearsal”. I didn’t actually know what that meant, we never did those in clogging. I didn’t realized that the practice was at the recital location in PA, 30 mins away, in costume. Are you kidding me?! OK, change of plans, I’m adaptable, I can do this. A last min work thing came up and really threw a wrench into my confidence. That’ll keep me from getting to cocky.
By the grace of God I showed up with 10 minutes to spare to dress the kids and recover from Harper’s full fledged panic attack over a “spider” on the car window next to her (news flash, it was just a mosquito). When we walked into the school I immediately felt horrible. All the kids were so fancy, full makeup and dance hair, looking like they were about to win nationals. Harper’s hair is in a pony tail, if you can call it that, and Reid has the wrong pants on, but pants no less. MAKEUP, MAKEUP, do i have makeup? Oh crap I didn’t bring the DAMN MAKEUP.
In that moment I felt a lot of mom guilt for not being the put together Mom. I looked like a total newb hot-mess strolling through that lobby. Excuse me coming through, make way for the hot-mess express. TOOT TOOT. Had I prepared a bit more, read the “recital packet” in great detail, or asked a friend for the low down, I could’ve strolled in that joint with the future winners of So You Think You Can Dance, kid edition.
After all that stress, Reid barely made it on stage and stood there like a statue the whole time. They only practiced their 2 min routine 1 time. Um come again? A full 5 mins of work for all that stress and guilt.
After a rough end to tech rehearsal night, the weight of the day laid heavy on my chest. I promised myself that I needed to level up my Dance Mom game and give myself and the littles a little grace. I got an early start to the day, and did Harper’s hair and makeup at home. Double, triple checked the dance essentials and hit the road. The school was a bit chaotic when we arrived and the kid drop off line was out of control. Thankfully, I had my mom with me while Brendan was parking and she unearthed Dance Nana like a pro, damnit she’s good.
Finally, it’s show time! We took bets on if Reid would even make it on stage. He’s really not the front and center kinda guy. When it was finally their turn, Reid walked out in the front row. FRONT ROW?! Oh man, he’s doomed. Did they not see the same rehearsal I did? The one where he auditioned for the leading tree prop. What the heck did they put him in the front for?! I thought he was all but a flight risk for sure.
The lights come up and he’s got his back to the audience and I about died. OK, that’s one way to not let the sight of the audience scare you. The music was on and off they went. Reid did a little beboppin’ with he buddies, and was the cutest little barely grooving statue on the stage. Unintentionally he had the crowd in stitches and brought an other wise
boring riveting dance routine to life.
Harper was a dance natural, she smiled, hit her routine, and had so much fun. At the very end, all the dancers join hands. Harper was so determined to not leave her brother behind. She fought hard to stop the the tiny dancer line from leaving without him. I hope she always fights for him and others the way she did on that stage.
The Big Dance
After the show I went back stage to pick them up. They had gotten little trophies and they were jumping up and down, so excited to show them to me. Reid was bursting with joy to tell me that “he danced”. I was so proud of him! He faced his fears, did it his way, and the outcome was even better than we could have hoped for. I think I have watched the dance video like 100 times and I crack up laughing EVERY TIME. My heart swells with pride almost right out of my chest over a tiny dancing clip. Man parenthood is a funny thing.
Now, only after one toddler dance basics class, only 1 night a week and one recital deep, I have an even greater appreciation and gratitude for my own Dance Mom. The work days are hectic, let alone fitting in practice and extra activities. I totally underestimated what it took to get to show time and see those beautiful smiling, joyful faces afterwards. As a kid I wasn’t in tune to the rushing my Mom did everyday to get me to practices, let alone in preparation and execution of dance competitions (I usually had a few a month). Dancing was like a part-time job when I was a kid, we traveled near and far for all day competitions with no less than 5 outfit changes each. From the sheer money she spent on dance tuition, costumes, pictures, and dance essentials, to surviving the day-of stress, all to watch me chase my dance dreams and do something I loved. We really will move mountains for our babies, won’t we?
All of that stress, guilt, and at times, panic was all worth it to see my little people happy and beaming with pride. I might not have been the most put together Dance Mom there today, but damnit I survived my rookie season!
Now if only I can get a sick ass dance caboodle and train in the off season, I’ll be fetch in no time.