I often find myself defending the fact that I let my daughter do so much dancing.
Over coffee the other day, a friend was telling me about her sister in law who had paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for her daughter to dance. She had been dancing since she was 5, had now finished school and gone off to dance full time in Sydney. 6 months later and she was back, realising that it wasn't what she wanted to do and was now looking at uni courses in areas completely unrelated to dance or ballet. “What a waste!” was my friend’s response.” All that money and time and all for nothing.
I tried to bite my tongue. Really, I did. I tried to smile and nod understandingly, not really wanting to get into another round of “You don’t really get it” with my friend. And then I thought...stuff it! I stopped smiling and nodding and said (politely, of course) “Actually, you know what?! I’m going to have to correct you on that one.”
I spent today with Miss 11 at her ballet showcase. She danced, I helped in the dressing room. From 12.00 midday to 5.00pm, I was surrounded by hairspray, red lipstick, tu-tus and ribbons. I was also surrounded by team spirit, role models, dedication, compassion and bloody hard work!
If my daughter does not pursue a career in dance, it will not have been a waste.
Because today I saw 12 year old girls (who are stereotypically known for being egotistic and self centred!) helping control 5 year olds who were literally bouncing off walls in excitement.
I saw 12 year old girls show compassion to one of their friends who was disappointed after a (minor, but important to her) costume malfunction.
I saw 12 year old girls work together to make sure they were all on stage dressed and ready to go, despite sometimes only having one or two dances to make some major costume changes.
I heard one 12 year old girl say to her stressed out friend, while helping her during that very quick change, “It’s OK. We are a team and we won’t go on stage until you are ready to go on with us.”
I saw 12 year old girls work with a team of adults to ensure the day ran smoothly.
I saw 12 year old girls take time out to work on part of an upcoming dance with a fellow team member who wasn't feeling confident.
The best part for me was when we were all leaving and the number of thank yous being shared between the kids and the mums that were there to help. These girls get it. They get the amount of money being spent. They get the amount of time that their mums gave up today to help and that their dads gave up to sit through three acts of dancing to watch the 5 dances that their daughter was in. They get it. I saw 12 year old girls appreciate what was being done for them.
I did not spend the day at the showcase because I am under some grand illusion that my daughter is going to be a principal dancer with The Australian Ballet. I did not spend the day at the showcase because I have some unhealthy desire to dress my daughter up like a doll/beauty queen/pageant princess (yes, we've heard them all) and push her out onto the stage.
I spent the day at the showcase because my daughter learnt a lot more today than how to dance.
I love Mother’s Day more than my birthday. You see, I didn’t do anything to deserve my birthday. Really, we should be giving my Mum a present on my birthday. She did all the work in getting me here! But Mother’s Day…...on Mother’s Day I feel like I have earnt my cup of tea in bed, my burnt breakfast pancakes cooked lovingly by Miss 11 and my right to not do any ironing, cleaning or cooking.
I earnt the soft knock on the bedroom door this morning, not wanting to wake me up too early but too excited to sit in the lounge room with my gifts. My gifts that they agonised over at the school Mother’s Day Stall. That they drew, painted and wrote during Mother’s Day Craft at school. That they secretly put together in the garage yesterday while I was out doing groceries.
But the thing that I earnt that I love most of all, is the proud look on their faces when I open those hand made and $2 gifts while we all sit on Mummy and Daddy’s bed first thing in the morning. That is the thing that I love most about Mother’s Day.
I love that stare, waiting to see if I love the coffee mug full of lollies as much as he thought I would. To see if I am as excited by the ceramic oil burner as she thought I would be. That proud look, as he hands me his “I Love my Mum because….” writing task that he did in Literacy Groups this week.
They could be handing me anything in the world, but if they have that gaze of anticipation, waiting to see if I love it, then they can be guaranteed that I will adore it. I adore that they put so much thought into every part of their gift. Whether it is agonisingly wandering from one end of the table of Mother’s Day gifts, over and over, $2 in hand waiting to spot something that they think I will love. Or it’s the countless rubbings out on their writing, trying to spell, “She is beautiful.”
I love it because they think I will love it and they chose is just for me.
A friend said to me the other day, “Your blog hasn’t popped up on my Facebook feed lately.” “No,” I said, “That’s because I was in this fantasy land where I thought I could do my job, raise two kids, be a chauffeur, a counsellor, study my Masters blah blah blah…..and write a multi million follower blog!”
Reality Check...something had to give and of course it was the thing that I wanted to do for me! Because we’re Mums, that’s what we do! Like the time I was part of an acapella women’s choir, or the time I tried to take up Yoga or the candle making kit that I bought last holidays that is still sitting on kitchen bench.
But now I’m back, probably not regularly, but whenever I get a spare half hour (and I have locked myself in my bedroom away from the relentless cries of ‘Muuuuuummmmm,’) I’m going to write…...because I love it and it’s just for me.
You see, I’m struggling at the moment. This year has been a big one for our little family. I got a new job. A promotion of sorts that means more responsibility. Well, not MORE responsibility, but different responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying my new role. I am learning a HUGE amount but will admit that, at the moment, I am struggling. I have read many university articles and texts about women and leadership, how hard it is, how much we deserve it and after reading these articles, I usually come away inspired and ready to burn my bra in feminist protest and show those men how this work thing is done. But, as I read yet another Women in Leadership article for uni, I thought....You know what, the authors of these articles obviously do not have children with as busy after school lives as mine, do not have a problem with feeding their family take away multiple times a week or do not have a deep and lasting love of uninterrupted baths and time on their own, in the piece and quiet….with no one whinging...or whining...or stomping their feet because “You always say no.” And I have all of those things, especially the the piece and quiet….Oh, how I long for silence, just for 15 minutes!
So I am calling it like it is. I’m struggling. I have not had 5 minutes to myself all year and this is going to be my week!
And Why? Because I need it, and that’s ok.