“Next time you find yourself ‘graceless under fire’ (or stressed under pressure), ask yourself if what you’re doing is necessary in the first place.”
Moms, you have the power to make your own rules. Not only do you have the power, but you have permission (my permission) to do what works best for you and your family!
Make decisions in favor of the greater good of happiness.
This past Saturday was the final straw.
Every Saturday for the last eight months my daughter has dance class. The season is coming to a close and recital time is fast approaching. This is our first time involved in dance.
It started when my five-year old daughter begged for dance lessons. One quick Groupon search for local dance studios and ‘viola’, we were registered. I say ‘we’ because it’s not only her commitment but mine too for time, prep, and transportation.
I never took dance as a child. Not one class.
The whole experience was new to me.
We got our leotards, tights, ballet and tap shoes, and a super cute dance tote to take to class.
My kids have been involved in other activities in the past. Most activities are time commitments that extend several weeks (i.e. baseball is about eight weeks). I had no idea and wasn’t prepared for the ‘dance commitment’ to include every Saturday (mid-morning) for the entire school year. We’re eight months deep and counting!
In the beginning my daughter was excited to go to class. But it didn’t take long before we discovered dance was not really ‘her thing’. She greets her teacher and peers with a smile, participates, and definitely has fun but the act of getting her there has grown tiresome.
What her dance peers do not see is the incessant struggle that takes place to get her dressed and out the door on time for class. Each and every Saturday I get complaints ‘I don’t want to go to dance’ followed by ‘the stink face’ as I break a sweat trying to stuff her tiny body into dance tights.
Have you ever tried putting tights on another human? It’s hard enough getting tights on yourself!
My daughter would be perfectly happy and in fact prefer staying home to play with her little sister and brother.
In the beginning, we attended every class. There were many times I drove to dance with a teary-eyed child who had just been yelled at for giving me a hard time getting ready and my blood boiling. All in the name of ‘getting to dance on time’.
Toward the end, we’ve been absent more and more.
Keeping Saturdays free for more than eight months is not easy, especially when you have other kids and a life to tend to!
We’ve been faced with tough choices over time.
‘Do we attend that birthday party or go to dance?’
‘Do we hit the beach or go to dance?’
‘Do we visit Grandma & Grandpa or go to dance?’
In a perfect world, you do both. Spoiler alert, there is no perfect world and it’s not always an option to do both.
Mother’s Day Weekend I was faced with such a dilemma. We could either go to dance or go to a farm festival out in Long Island wine country as a family. There is no ‘doing both’. You either drive ‘out East’ into wine country early or you simply do not go. If you try to go late, you will inevitably sit in aggravating traffic for hours on the only road that leads to the destination. I elected to skip dance and enjoy family time in the sun. It was a beautiful day. There is no doubt we made the right choice.
But what about dance?
Now that we’re getting near recital time, we find out about costume requirements, mandatory rehearsals, photos, awards, reserving seats, parent meetings, etc. I don’t recall having to do any of this when basketball came to an end. Maybe there was a generic trophy passed out after the last game but that’s it. All this dance stuff… it’s crazy! The instructions and requirements for the next several weeks are spelled out in several pages of small, fine print that reads more like a legal contract. If you miss one dress rehearsal, you’re out of the show! Of course we have date conflicts, other commitments, and a child who ‘doesn’t even like dance all that much’.
Finally it dawned on me. The obvious was staring me right in the face if I had the courage to notice.
I got so hung up on ‘commitment’ and ‘you finish what you start’, that I failed to acknowledge the unnecessary stress I had been putting on myself, my daughter, and the rest of my family and ‘for what’? So my daughter could see this dance thing to the end? Be in a recital she doesn’t care about? Wear a costume she cried when I put on her for the fitting?
Last Saturday was the last straw, we were hosting a holiday barbeque and as ‘dance time’ approached I got ‘the stink face’ and surefire comment ‘I don’t want to go to dance’.
I was done investing any more energy into this dance commitment and decided to cut my losses. I called the dance studio, thanked them for their services, and withdrew my daughter. Sure, there would be a missing circle on the dance floor where my daughter is supposed to stand. The instructor would have to figure out how to adjust the routine and remaining students on performance night. Our reserved seats would become ‘fair game’ to others. And my daughter’s paid-in-full costume will grow dust at the studio.
Instead of dance, my daughter spent the morning helping her mother prepare for a party and swimming with her siblings. She laughed and smiled and participated in our family instead of dance. She’s perfectly content knowing if she ever has the desire to enroll in dance as she grows, we’ll happily allow her to do so.
Moms, take a look around. Survey your world for stress. Don’t let circumstances make the rules for your life, your family, and your combined happiness. You have the freedom and permission to make the rules up as you go. Forget about what others might think and free yourself from unnecessary stress.
This coming Saturday, instead of yelling at my daughter to ‘stop wiggling’ so I can force on those tiny tights we’ll be at a charity event running the high school track, getting face paintings, doing yoga, and participating in our community as a family.
Sometimes it takes courage to recognize and follow the best path, but it’s yours to decide.
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