There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about you! The summer has been, well, short. Perhaps it’s just my age, but I swear, I can only get one or two things accomplished each day I try. I really do more (it seems) than I did years ago, or perhaps these days just seem more important, but I am very lucky if I manage to get one item done on my calendar. Usually, the lists just bleed over into the next day or week. Not for my part necessarily, but even the cell phone provider will opt to call me back on another day for something that could be looked up, verified, or dealt with today. Procrastination. Perhaps I have just slowed down. It feels like I have schmut in my transmission. Thinking about it is really getting to be better than doing it. I still manage to get my son to school, my daughter to ballet, back home, lunch, grandma, calls, clean the house, pick up my son, run errands, take my daughter back to ballet, work, call, sort out dinner, pick up daughter and head to the grocery store. Home to cook, usually do the daily dishes, enter work on my database, clean up dinner, fold clothes, and fall into bed. We usually have the sit-down dinner. Not much time for ballet moms to do the normal things other mothers do. It is almost an all-consuming thing and when I am not actually driving, waiting, etc., I am thinking about what classes, shoes, clothes, etc., are needed, how much they cost, how to measure them, time to go and get them (there really is something to be said for big mail orders at this point) and how I am going to fit rehearsals into the schedule for the Nutcracker. More time for me! I can see already that when she grows up, there will be a huge hole in my life. Will I offer to take other people’s children to ballet, go to see their performances, stalk the studio, volunteer?
I can see that I should start weaning myself from her activities and the process immediately. After years of taking care of our children, living vicariously their lives and experiences, one wonders if this aspect of parenting is normal. The growing up is, but what do they call letting go? Is there a timeline of grief for this, like menopause, or dying? I have already started Pre-letting-go. Do I have any accomplishments of my own to report? Am I truly autonomous or am I using my children as a crutch? Why haven’t I done this with my sons? It’s my baby, my girl. Boys would rebel at so much attention from their mothers, I think. When I try to cuddle them, there is an invisible timer, usually just long enough for a quick hug, a kiss or small cuddle, then they are off. My daughter will still attach herself to me, and even in the pool this is not completely weightless, but it is comforting, as if to say,”soon, mom, soon.” I often have to tell my sons that she doesn’t have to do dishes because she is tired, and at their complaints, I mention that they should not worry because, like me, she will eventually grow up to be a mom, too, and then her job will never be done either(!). It seems that way, unfair to them, they say (but true), and I have tried to get my sons into ballet, dance, or anything else, to get them off their cans, the computer, games, etc. but they rebel, throw themselves onto the bed face down, refusing to agree to the reasons why they should dance for their health and not just to make my life easier-one family, one activity, one destination-easy. No. They prefer to sit home, eat, do chores, homework, virtually any ogre-ish thing I can think of to make the study of dance more palatable, tempting, even cash bribes. They use this against me, even refusing to learn to drive, or do any other thing that would make life easier, but when they want to go somewhere, it is, “take me now, pick me up, too-you do everything for her.” Except worry. They don’t see that. I guess I am fortunate that I have such good children, that I can trust them at home. Their time will come. Nothing has worked and believe me I have made the effort. As I see her get stronger everyday, I only wish there was some way to include them, get them started on the path to dance health. I haven’t found one yet. No one is too old to dance, really, so there is still time. But, I would support any physical activity they undertook.
More than one dance teacher has suggested that I take a class while I wait. I bring work to do, and as we have already discussed, usually sit in my car (to avoid the gossip and chitter-chatter). Occasionally I go in, only to be reminded what a waste of time it is to stare at my daughter living her life, doing as well as she can, and having fun. I glance over all of the other mothers, but I do not envy them their circle of friendship, sizing each other up, bragging. No, I have a life to live, even in the car, doing little things while I wait. I bring water and sustenance at times, but I have not helped her with her pointe shoes for months. She is rotating 3 pairs now and it has her frustrated as when her schedule changes, the shoe schedule also gets messed up. Her tights have a hole in them which she pensively fingers, probably hoping I’ll notice and mend them or buy her new ones. She really doesn’t ask for much or say, “buy me this.” She seems reconciled to the fact that we do not have enough money to pay for privates and a wardrobe of leotards-we did that when she first started out almost four years ago and I am still saying, “You have a whole closet of leotards, why don’t any of them fit?” She is constantly recirculating the black ones and will say, “I liked it when I bought it, then I didn’t. Today, I wore it and it looked really cute on, now I have a black leotard!” Optimist. Things like what she is wearing just don’t matter anymore to me. They do, to her. To me, she would be beautiful in a gunny sack. We recently had to buy her jeans. She really did not have any and her friends dress her when she comes over after ballet before they go to the weekly football game. It is becoming about the art for her, the dedication and the practice. She goes into the studio on Sunday, when almost no one is there to practice her variations, etc. I do not even get Sundays off. I, and others are amazed at how hard she practices on her own. She is more confident. She has a great teacher.
But, while I complain now, in a few years, I will be shelving those pedicures for another reason-guilt. I remember my mother sending me a box of sweaters (yes, a whole box) she bought on sale, my first year of college in New York. Then came the box of socks. She had a fixed income. But she was worried about me. I still have a big box of letters she wrote to me that first year. A book’s worth, that I just did not have time to read. The time between, I was just too busy with my life to sit down and open that box, let alone read all those letters. Maybe I should do that while I wait.
My middle son has a passion-guitar. sometimes I really think Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton is in his bedroom, and I look in to see my son, who stops and looks back at me through his hair and glasses. I tell him he is really good, better than his father probably was at that age. He looks secretly pleased that I noticed. He holds his head up to listen for more praise. Perhaps that is enough? Am I on the right track? Can it be? He tells me he knows what he wants to be when he grows up, but as he sees my interest raise, he refuses to say. He doesn’t want my attention. He is afraid of my making him study music my way- theory, other instruments, summer programs. I back off. I was in the music business for many years. He doesn’t want my help now. Maybe he will someday. I want him to go to college, but not get too far away. It is all about the music, he feels. And he should have that, but also the confidence to get out and play. Life is about so many things besides the music, and so is dance. They have a lot to learn. See what I have done without really trying? Created more artists and hopefully one good business man in the bunch, maybe a doctor or a lawyer. No wonder I am tired. Is that what I set out to do so long ago? I didn’t know, honest. I am scared. Scared for them. Can I change their minds, stop being supportive, even silently, of what they really want to do? No. He is an A student, mostly. She loves to learn. They still need me, my 25 year-old son still needs me (is this normal?). I guess we just do what we do and pray for the best.
I do peek in sometimes, to see her smiling, turning, jumping, posing, and everything seems much better than a year ago. I can go back to the car until she needs me. Time to make Sunday biscuits and gravy! Family dinners are proven to be very important. A few years ago a college friend started a Facebook (to compliment her blog) page called ‘The Dinner List’ for people to relate recipes, what they are cooking, anecdotes. I think it has a lot more meaning now.