It was not my plan to have a daughter who danced. I was never a dancer myself, expect for a three-month stint which ended when I realized while I was tapping my siblings were watching Alvin and the Chipmunks. My daughter had other plans. She loved all things ballet as soon as she could stand up.
When she turned three, she was (finally!) old enough for a class, so we bit the bullet and signed her up. Every Saturday morning from September to mid-May (nay a few holidays) I found myself rushing into the dance studio, shuffling her into the classroom, and grabbing a seat among the other parents (who became friends after so many of these mornings.)
Months went by, and my daughter practiced for “The Big Show” (her recital). We bought the costume, showed up for pictures, and even took big brother out of school early to rush to her afternoon dress rehearsal. Grandparents drove hours to attend, and post-recital lunch reservations were set. After months of listening to the same Disney song on repeat, we all were looking forward to seeing the routine that accompanied it.
Her class was up next.Her brothers and I held our breath. Little footsteps shuffled on stage and the lights turned on. The music started, but I was confused. In the line of a dozen mini ballerinas, my dancer wasn’t there. Then my husband pointed, and we could see her sobbing in the corner of stage left in the studio owner’s arms.
Months of practice. Money spent on classes and costumes. Physical and mental effort spent manipulating our schedules. And the “Big Show” never happened. I don’t care at all, and neither does she. She loved class each week. She loved her dance costume. She loved wearing the makeup. She loved the experience.
My oldest starting playing little league this year. Never interested in T-ball, he skipped that preparatory training, and picked up a bat for the third time in his life at his first game. In the world of the youngest little leaguers, the coaches pitch, and players get unlimited chances to swing and hit the ball. Most kids do this on their first or second swing, but it took my oldest almost eight minutes to get a hit. I sat on the third baseline feeling deeply compassionate toward him, avoiding glances from other parents, and praying that he would get a hit. Eventually he connected bat to ball to produce a teeny bunt, and ran as fast as he could to first base. We clapped and he beamed. After the game, he told me that baseball was his favorite sport, and he couldn’t wait for the next game. All I could think was, “were we at the same ball field?” For him, it was a success.
Over April vacation, I brought all 3 kids to a presentation on bugs at our library. Though it was supposedly geared for young children, it quickly became clear that the presenter had very little interaction with preschoolers. The speaker called my sons out by name, demanding that they stay seated, stop talking, and stop answering his rhetorical questions (oops). It was painful for me to watch, and uncomfortable for other attendees, who gave me sympathetic looks. I was surprised by the presenter’s behavior, but was shocked by the amount of insect information my younger son learned. Despite being repeatedly chastised, he saw some sort of lesson in that mess.
Too often I get caught up in the negative parts of the day, and view them as failures. I was late to camp drop off. I forgot the wet clothes in the washer. I didn’t get the guest blogging job I wanted. Nobody ate the dinner I cooked. Fail, fail, fail. I wish I measured success the way my kids do. Did we survive? Yes. Did we learn something? Maybe. Did we have fun? Sure.
This is my Big Show. I might not make it onstage, but I can enjoy wearing the costume.
This is my up-to-bat. It might take me 34 swings to connect. It might be a bunt rather than a home run, but I know that no one hustles like me.
And I can be proud of that, and just do my best to enjoy (some of) the experience.