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Exit Stage Right!: Love of a Dance Mom

Growing up, I was the youngest of five kids. My two older sisters no longer lived with us by the time I was of playing age. That left me my two older brothers. I tried to keep up with the boys as best I could. Played videos games, street football, and tried my hand at skateboarding (it was a fail). My wardrobe was mainly baggy shirts and skater pants. I could even throw a football further than most girls I knew. The majority of my friends growing up were boys because I felt more comfortable with them than I did girls my age. Dressing up nice and pretty didn’t fit my mold. I wasn’t into make-up until I hit my 30’s, and even so, it’s pretty minimal. All of this to say: I am a lady but I don't consider myself to be lady-like by any means.

When I had my sons, I was excited for the future of boy momhood that was to come. The trucks, the dirt, the mess, all of it! As for my daughter, I was so nervous. What if I couldn’t measure up as a girl mom?! I didn’t know how to be princess-y and glitter-fied like other women did. My knowledge of hairdos went about as far as a simple braid. I had no idea how to do nails and no interest in dress up. My hope and prayer was that she would have more of me in your personality as to maybe avoid all of that.

Well, I got what I wished for in some respect. Fast-forward through the toto and dress filled years of toddlerhood to 2021. I have a 12 year old with my smart mouth who plays video games with me. As for the girly part, I now find myself knee deep in Dance Mom life. It started innocent enough, just one jazz class. When recital came, it was just a ponytail her hair had to be in, I could do that. Year two, a clip-on hair piece with her hair pinned underneath for her costume. It took a few tries, but I had a handle on it. Year three, jazz class and Stars beginning performance group. Now, there was make-up involved for performance sake. It was stressful for me, but I somehow managed to get it together just in time for her to perform. On top of the changes each year, I found myself surrounded by other dance moms who I had no idea how to interact with. It was uncomfortable, it was awkward, it stretched me more than I would have liked, but at least it couldn’t get any worse, right?!

Which brings us to Year four. Montana is now in competition dance, the big leagues. Last Thursday was her first competition ever. If there was ever a time I questioned my role as a mother, it was that night. Why on God’s green earth would He pick me, a complete tomboy, to mother a young lady who is into one of the girliest sports I can think of?! I’m sure for anyone in my house watching, I looked like a frantic mess. Running circles around my kitchen table grabbing bobby pins, hair gel, hairspray, hair ties, fake lashes, eye liner, and whatever else was needed in an attempt to make everything perfect in time for the first competition of the year. I found myself double and triple checking her costumes to make sure everything was straight and prim for perform. I felt so overwhelmed and unqualified for this position, as if someone had asked me to paint the 16th Chapel mural from memory. Maybe I should’ve tried to do my hair more as a kid, I might not have struggle as hard as I did with that dancer’s bun. But it wasn't the time to question my childhood choices, it was showtime.

I drove like a maniac to get her to the venue (late of course). The entire way, the pit of my stomach was in a grip lock and my heart was heavy with anxiety. As we got closer, the tightening got worse. Pulling up to the front, I rushed to the front door with all of Montana’s costumes and bags. Seeing my reflection next to my very dressed up, pretty daughter, I looked like I had been thrown out of a moving truck with hair gel on my forehead. The gentleman who opened the door probably thought I was a complete nut. Poor guy.

After parking my car and getting the hair gel off of my face, I ran myself inside. At this point, my heart was racing a thousand miles a minute and I felt sick. Walking through the lobby, I found the other moms from our studio sitting together. Now, the social anxiety was kicking in. Making my way toward them, all I could see looking toward me were smiles or what I assumed were smiles. Masks make it hard to know the difference sometimes, so smiling eyes I guess. I was told to pull up a chair for the watch party. With COVID, there wasn't a live audience allowed but everything was live-streamed. The grip was still tight on my nerves as the performances began. Upon my phone refusing to work part way through, I found myself on the verge of tears until the mom next to me held her phone out so I could see too. As each dance set went on, I could see which child belonged to who because their parent’s faces looked the way I felt. Each one held their breaths through their child’s performances, with a sigh of relief once they finished.

Finally, Montana’s group came on. The stage was set and each girl at their starting point. No music, just silence. I found myself holding my breath in

anticipation with the mom on the opposite end of me reminding me to breathe. Then, the music started and it began. I felt every emotion in me freeze watching her. Everything grew still in my spirit. The judges watching saw a choreographed dance, carefully practiced and crafted for their entertainment, but my eyes went to something else. After doing this song and dance (literally) for 4 1/2 years, it was that night it all clicked. The results of all of the hard work, long nights driving back and forth to the studio, and the hours sitting waiting for her. The stubbornness of my daughter wanting to dance more and more and refusing to skip dance class, even after her brothers’ passed all came together on that stage. I saw her passion, her release, her escape, the thing that was constant in her life even when the world was falling apart from death and pandemics, and the strength of a young woman who refused to quit.

As each of her dances finished, I found myself swelling with pride and joy. I cheered and clapped along with the other moms at those cafe tables. The camaraderie forming with the other moms was something I never saw myself being a part of, but was so glad I was. With all the dances finished, the moms went to the doors to cheer and congratulate each of the dancers on their hard work. The smile on Montana’s proud face was the thing of parenting dreams. All of the time, stress, and anxiety was worth seeing my daughter’s face that lit up.

The whole way home, she was beaming talking about the excitement and fun of performing on stage. She ended her spill with “And I wasn't nervous at all!”

Me: “Really?! I was!”

Her: “Why?!”

Me: “I was nervous for you!”

Her eyes rolled at the statement, but with that beaming smile still attached.

This Dance Mom thing is truly on a whole level of it's own. It is time consuming, nerve-wrecking, patience-testing, and pushes me out of my comfort zone in many ways. But, the level of commitment and community found in this special group of moms and staff members is inspiring and beautiful. Individuals that push their own limits to watch their children and others pursue their passions and turn them into something magnificent. I am grateful to this dance studio for being more than just a place to dance. It has become a place of refuge and strength for my young lady. They have taught her discipline, leadership, and to help her fellow classmates to be better together. Their motto is “We are more than just great dancers”, and they do live up to that.

Being a Girl mom doesn’t come naturally for me, neither does being a Dance mom. It's hard and uncomfortable a lot of the time, but it’s forced me to grow in ways I would've never done on my own. So, if God’s plan for being Montana’s mom means I'm going to be a nervous wreck each time she performs, I’ll take it. It’s worth every second of the pit in my stomach to see her dance with the world off of her shoulders for a little bit. I look forward to watching it over and over again.

That's all from me this week! Have a blessed rest of your week and I’ll see you back here next time!

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