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?
As the New Year begins, I always wonder what all of the hype is about. Why does everyone get so amped up about New Year’s Eve? I suppose I can see the appeal of the New Year, but I don’t buy it. I’m sure some see it as a fresh start. There is something strangely enticing about peeling off the plastic wrap of a brand new calendar. An exhilaration that comes with running your hands over the empty boxes, just waiting for the fun activities to be penciled in their vacant spaces. Some may also see it as a time to improve themselves, making resolutions that are often never met. Lose ten pounds? Nope, not today, I had three vodka tonics last night and now I need a bacon, egg and cheese to soak them up before they come back out. Save more money? But I just planned an awesome vacation in my head. Keep a cleaner, more organized house? Sure, right after my kids finish throwing all of their new Christmas gifts around the playroom for the next month. In many cases, people are really just looking for a way to move on, to turn over a new leaf as you turn a new page on that great calendar of life. And this year, I can identify with that.
Amidst the holiday hoopla, I took a break from blogging. Not for lack of topics to write on. A day didn’t pass that I couldn’t picture myself writing about some subject or another. The hours in the day just seemed to diminish the further into December we got. I took time to reflect; there were a lot of highs and lows in 2012. As I make my peace with each one of them, I see the yin and the yang, the good and the evil coexisting everywhere. Wonderful times like watching my big girl perform holiday songs with her fellow preschoolers warmed my heart. Hearing of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown shook me to my core and left me questioning what very little faith I had had to begin with. I wanted to write about this, but felt nothing I could say did justice in the face of something so unjust. It’s not that I want to turn away and pretend like it didn’t happen, but I do see the novelty of the New Year somehow silently allowing us to move on. It is something we can, and will, revisit and respect, and like so many other painful memories, we will never forget. We can, however, try to pick ourselves up and keep going right into the New Year. We can tackle the things that come up along the way, those that we can plan for and those that we cannot. We can accept the challenges and rejoice in the victories.
I see the year laid out before me. I know its cyclical nature. I was trying to explain it to the big girl tonight. I found it easiest to tell her about the holidays and birthdays we will celebrate again in the same order. She’s already excited about telling everyone she loves that she loves him or her on February 14th. It’s confusing and a bit disappointing that Christmas is over, but she’s happy to move on now that she knows about the Valentine’s Day cards and cookies we will make. I am excited to see these days through her eyes. My girls help me to be less cynical and more optimistic about the promise of the future. And now I understand why the revelers in Times Square are so wide-eyed. It’s probably not the copious amounts of uppers they’ve just taken; it’s the high you get when your future looks as bright as that famous ball. It’s shiny and new and ready to turn 2013 into something magical. Happy New Year!