As a woman who played soccer since she could walk and all throughout college, the second I gave birth, I was thrilled to label myself as a soccer mom. I rolled soccer balls to my kids' feet as soon as they could stand. They'd giggle and I'd say, "Kick it, honey!" Yup, I started the brainwashing young. But my daughter, while she liked kicking the ball around, loved something else . . . to dance. She'd throw a princess dress on, command me to play music, and twirl until she flopped to the ground. And as a tomboy who grew up with three brothers, this dance thing was foreign territory for me.
But treating my kids as individuals is important to me, so I enrolled her in dance classes. I took her to the fancy store to buy her ballet shoes, tights, jazz shoes, and leotards. It was official; I was a dance mom. But I quickly realized just how out of my league I was. Little girls showed up with perfect buns and immaculate outfits. My daughter walked through the doors with her hair down, blowing in her face. But weekly, we went through the motions and showed up to her practices. It was all fine and dandy, but to be honest, I secretly hoped she didn't want to sign up again. The dance mom thing felt so weird to me that, on the inside, I pushed it away.
My daughter, on the other hand, loved it. As her recital grew closer, she practiced her two little dance performances in the kitchen. After her songs, she grabbed my hand and shouted, "Come on, Mom! Let's Dance!" At first, I swayed slow and stiff, my hips barely moving. But with my daughter's constant badgering, I started to loosen up a bit. It was as if I was the Tin Man. I just needed a little oil. These dance parties became our little after-school ritual during the month leading up to her big recital. My daughter and I would jam out in the kitchen with music blaring. It felt good — damn good.
I felt the stress evaporate as I allowed myself to lose my inhibitions a little bit. Maybe, just maybe, being a dance mom wouldn't be all that bad.
But the closer the recital came, the more nervous I got. I thought I'd screw something up for my daughter. I had no idea how to do a perfect bun or apply makeup properly. But her big day came and I did the best that I could. We stood in our small bathroom together and she stared into the mirror doting on her yellow costume and giggling with excitement. Yes, her bun was a little messy, but my daughter didn't care. She must have felt my nerves because after I was done, my sweetheart looked up to me and said, "You did a great job, Mom!" With those words, I knew it would all turn out okay.
As we settled into the auditorium, we waited for my daughter to take the stage. The second I saw her smiling face, my emotions took over me. Tears dripped down my cheeks and just wouldn't stop. The arts, and my daughter, filled me with a different kind of joy that being a soccer mom just can't. My little dancer did a fantastic job and more importantly, she loved it. Every second of it. I was nervous about stepping foot into a foreign territory, but sometimes, it's your children who push you out of your comfort zone. It's only then when you'll learn something new, and maybe even surprise yourself. I'm excited for my daughter in her dance journey whether she pursues it for just one more year or the rest of her life. But for now, I'm happy to label myself as a soccer mom — and a dance mom.