It happened with some hesitation. Having grown up dancing, I eagerly signed my three-year-old up for classes as soon as her little feet were big enough for ballet shoes. But a few years later, when I was approached about the possibility of joining our studio’s competitive team, I was nervous. Would she like it? Would it be too much pressure? Also, did I have what it took? After some thought on my part, and some begging on my daughter’s, I agreed to sign up. And so, reluctantly, I became a Dance Mom.
Despite all my concerns and fears about what being a Dance Mom would be, and in spite of all the negative connotations of the term, I’ve actually found out that being a Dance Mom has taught me a lot.
I’m allowing others (who I trust) to move into a place of influence in my daughter’s life.
Because she’s getting older, my girl is seeking validation and approval from people other than me. I’m so grateful that some of those people are in the studio. On several occasions, I’ve seen and heard her instructors giving her feedback and encouragement that I’ve tried to give; and somehow she’s heard them, received the encouragement, and taken the feedback from them when she couldn’t hear it from me. I’m trying hard to take a back seat to her Company director on any and all critiques of dance technique and performance. Even though I have the knowledge to give feedback, I’m happy to be able to be my girl’s biggest cheerleader and to let her coach be her coach. I think our relationship is going to be better for it.
2. I am expanding my village.
One of my biggest fears about jumping into competitive dance was just that — the competitive nature. I worried that I wouldn’t find camaraderie, that everything would feel like everything was a fight. Instead, I found a group of other moms willing to give me all the advice, share their supplies, and support me. Earlier this year, we had an out-of-town convention, and I had to bring along my four-year-old along for the trip. Because four-year-olds are generally miserable in confined spaces, I wasn’t able to sit in and observe the workshop or help my girl get her things together in between classes. I felt overwhelmed and insufficient. But the Dance Moms…they took in my girl, made sure she had water, knew which class was next, ate snacks, and had fun. They sent me pictures and videos and let me know she was okay. I’m so thankful for this community and how they’ve welcomed us, supported us, and encouraged both my dancer and me.
3. I am having fun.
Even though there are a hundred potential stressors surrounding a dance competition, the overall tone thus far has been fun. I relish watching my dancer do something she loves, and I’m actually interested in learning the intricacies of this new-to-me world. Competition weekends are long, often holed up in hotel ballrooms, with limited food options. But somehow, we find fun. The moms have time to get to know each other a little better. We swap “war stories” of raising kids, and laugh at the silliness of the “drama” of the dance world. And maybe, just maybe, this unhurried time to relax and have fun, in the midst of hours of workshop classes and competition, is making me a more fun mom in general.
So, however reluctant I may have been, I’m now wearing the title of Dance Mom, with pride. I’m a better mom for it.