On Becoming a Dance Mom

I’m becoming a dance mom.

I knew it was only a matter of time, as my four year old has been expressing an interest in dance for some time now, so we opted to stop swimming and start up dance this next session at the YMCA. Besides the frequent dance parties we have as a family (this means she hangs limp and gets twirled around by Daddy O.), we don’t have much formal dance training.

Dance is a new experience for her and ME, as I have a limited dance background with the occasional Zumba class, a few salsa dance classes, and my own stellar moves that I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve gravitated to the more athletic moves, as  I was in almost every sport imaginable while growing up with our neighborhood crew: t-ball, softball, tennis, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track & field, downhill skiing, and ice skating. I was probably so busy that I didn’t even consider dance. The sports that really became my passion in high school were basketball and volleyball. I’ll never forget the thrill of running out for every varsity game on the rubbery blue field house floor to the tunes of late 90’s and Jock Jams!  Some tunes that I remember:

Ok, I digress, but I spent three out of four years on the varsity basketball team, and have some of the best high school memories playing bball with my teammates.  Basketball was also the hobby that led me to meeting my husband in college – at a Thursday night open gym that I went to with a friend, who was dating one of his buddies.  To this day, I still play basketball in my high school’s annual alumni tournament!  It’s a blast, even though I’ve lost a lot of skills and speed! Anyway, given my love of sports, I’d like my children to find their own passions as they grow up.

Dance may very well be that thing for my daughter.  We’ll see… she was QUITE excited by her leotard and tutu that she received for Christmas.  Here she topped it off with her “Super Girl” cape that Grandma made. I love her sense of style!

super ballerina

My very own Super Ballerina

So far, from buying her first pair of ballet shoes alone, I can see that she has some Prima donna qualities. She insisted on the pink pair, and we found her size without incident. Her two year old brother was disappointed that dance shoes were not available in his size, but easily got over it when we found new Lightning McQueen shoes for him instead. When it came time to pack up and go, my daughter whole hardheartedly refused, instead wanting me to buy her some Hello Kitty notebook that was on the checkout counter. I tried all of my usual lines to get out of a store, but nothing was working. Finally, I had to resort to the nuclear option, picking her up kicking and screaming, full-on diva tantrum style, and bring her to the car.

Fast forward to this morning, when attempting to wake her up (which is usually a challenge).  The promise of this morning’s dance class wouldn’t even rouse her. In fact, it did quite the opposite.

“I don’t want to go to dance class,” she whined.

“But honey, I signed you up for this session. Let’s just go this first time and see how you like it,” I reasoned with her.

“My legs are hurting,” she continued to whine. (Maybe she’s growing?!)

“Well, let me carry you downstairs and once you finish getting ready, you can have some special medicine for your legs that will make you feel better,” Daddy O. suggested so very kindly, in a way that I can’t always muster the patience or creativity to do myself with my daughter.

She bought it, and I obliged, giving her a miniscule amount of Tylenol for her legs. (We don’t usually use medicine as a motivator, nor do we frequently give out Tylenol, but whatever works.)

Still feeling the effects of that darn Polar Vortex (love this post 10 Advantages to Living in the Frozen Tundra), we put on several layers, keeping the bandaid on her leg under her tights (her demand) and bringing along hair stuff, so I could fix her hair before class. Looking like a pack mule, with an over-stuffed backpack, two kids’ jackets, mittens, hats, and boots, we trudged to the bathroom for a quick potty stop and de-layering.  By this time, I could see the other little girls and their families waiting in line for class to begin.  Not seeing other neatly styled buns, I convinced my daughter to forgo any up-do, which is perfect, since she always rips them out anyway.

By the time I had signed her in and was telling her to go in, she was excitedly bouncing at my side. She gave me a sweet hug and a kiss on the cheek before running in to join her class that had just started. I couldn’t help but feel proud. I loved seeing the joy and anticipation in her eyes and she sat “criss-cross applesauce” listening to her teacher. During the 45 minute class, my two year old son and I alternated from playing basketball and running around in the nearby gym and stopping to watch her ballet class.  Many other parents stayed put on the chairs placed outside the classroom to take in and photograph all of the cuteness. With all of our winter gear and water bottles, I passed on our camera today, though it was SO adorable watching her twirl, jump, and dance around the room.

My daughter came out of class with a grin lighting up her entire face, gave me a huge hug, and chirped, “I love ballet.” I was so thrilled that it went so well, despite her reservations and leg pain earlier this morning.

I asked her what she wanted to do next after changing out of her dance gear, to which she replied, “I want to go to the gym.”  A girl after my own heart, she chose a kid’s sized basketball to take along. She may be quite the well-rounded dancer after all. I think that I’ll enjoy being a dance mom, or “fill in the blank” mom based on whatever my son and daughter discover.

Do you have any tips for me as a newly minted dance mom? How have you reacted to your children discovering new hobbies?

Stand up Straight Mama!

I was told to stand up straight by my own mother, and NOW by a doctor. As a child, I could ignore this, but as an adult I have to pay attention – lest I want to try to “work-it” with hunched over shoulders in my 30’s.

Ugh….so where is this stand-up straight business coming from? Well, having two babies since 2009 and not really “training” to get back into shape for volleyball and basketball, led me to attempt to play like I could in my glory days. Hunching over to pick up and nurse my babies, and working at a desk (when I was still working full time) did little to strengthen my upper back, so I was overcompensating with other muscle groups, leading to the tendon “impingement,” or rotator cuff tendonitis. This is my second go-around with this delightful over-use injury. I first experienced shoulder pain when my daughter was about 4 months old from playing volleyball, basketball, and shoveling snow (yes, I live in Wisconsin). This time around it is more difficult to rest my arm when I have one 20lb. baby boy and another 30lb. little girl to care for all day long. It is not fun being an injured mama.

The good news – my rehab includes stretches, exercises and massage!  I’ll have Daddy O. try to assist, but I also am going in for the real deal at a local Aveda spa.  All moms deserve some pampering, and I feel a little more justified indulging in a massage now that I have an injury to help heal.  In a few weeks, I hope to be myself again: standing straight and tall, shooting the J or slamming the ball at the opposing team as a regular “lady killer.”

Have you ever had an injury or sickness that made it difficult to take care of your kiddos?  How did you get through it?

RELATED ARTICLE

This article reminded me of what my doctor and physical therapist explained.  Check it out if you want more info.