A 31 year old ballerina taking her first dance class after a sixteen year hiatus is not a pretty sight to behold. So today as I laced up my new jazz sneakers to take a ballet sculpt class, I avoided looking in the mirror in order to protect both my eyes and my ego. The only things that didn’t wobble all over the dance floor were my new boobs. I didn’t realize that the teacher would be a former School of American Ballet student and New York City Ballet dancer from the Balanchine era. In her late fifties, she schooled me (both literally and figuratively) all over that studio. Her encouragement and compliments helped me get through the hour, but as we did our reverence to end the class, my legs were shaking so much I could barely arabesque.
When I returned home to my little ballerina, I mounted the stairs with Jello legs and felt a little guilty. How would she feel about me doing ballet again? Is that now her “thing”? Last week, she and I went to my brother’s house to hang out with my nieces and play Just Dance on their new Xbox Kinect. It was awesome! My sister-in-law cracked up looking at my “serious dance face”, but my daughter wasn’t laughing. She was sulking because she did not like me doing dances that she couldn’t follow yet. At home, she likes me to show her many different ballet positions, but when there’s an audience, the stage is hers. So when I told her today that I took a ballet class, I saw a little confusion in her expression.
This is a crossroads that I wasn’t prepared to meet at her young age. “Mom, you can’t wear that, you’re too old.” I definitely expect that. “Mom, are you really listening to that song? Stop singing and turn it down before you pull up at my school.” I know she’ll say that. “Mom, can I wear your pink high heels?” She already says that. “Mom, can I wear your ballet slippers, I forgot mine?” I don’t know how either of us will feel about that one.
Clearly, she got her love of dance and performance from me; it’s one of the many things I hoped I would pass on to her. But at what point do these things cross over from being mine to being hers or her sister’s? When should I give them up so that they can have their moments to shine? Even if it brings me joy (and keeps this saggy Mom butt in gear), is it really fair for me to do it now too? Oh motherhood, will you never stop asking unanswerable questions?