Thursday, September 24, 2009


1. Pushy, obnoxious, crazy mothers who force their kids to act, model, or enter beauty contests, usually turning them into emotionally scarred adults who hate their parents.
2. Something I never want to be.

A auditioned for Nashville Ballet's Nutcracker last Sunday. As she was lined up to leave the waiting room and go into her audition, I realized she still had her skirt on. It was a below knee ballet skirt that she wore when we left home because we were going to church beforehand. When she put it on, we both intended that she would take it off before the audition.

But there she was, lined up amongst 20 other little girls, about to walk out the door. Should I call out to her? Stride across the room and ask her if she wanted to leave her skirt with me? Or just let her go? Would they tell her to remove the skirt if it interfered with them seeing her dance? Would it make A more nervous for me to interrupt her just before she headed into the audition? She had done such a good job of keeping herself calm during the hour between registration and audition. Would it throw her for me to dash across the room to her side?

I'll admit I wasn't thinking solely about A. I also didn't want to be one of those moms. You know the kind. Living vicariously through their daughters, primping their hair, reminding them of their best angles, pushing them to do their best and then some.

I would never have chosen dance as something for my daughter to love. I thought it encouraged an unhealthy body image. I was a little scared of the other parents (still am, honestly). And a lot of dances that children are taught are just flat-out inappropriate for young girls.

But A loves to dance. Loves it, loves it, loves it. And her body was made to do it. She came home from a class last week so proud that she could put her forehead to her calves without bending her legs. (Give that a try at home, folks.) I'm not sure how she could be so graceful, and genetically descended from me. Yet she is.

I want her to use the gift she has. But I don't want to push her. I want dance to be joyous, fun and energizing for her. I want her to do it because she loves it, not ever because she thinks we want her to do it.

So instead of making her stretch before her audition, I let her read. Instead of dashing across that room to tell her to take her skirt off, I let her go. I want her to be what she wants to be, even if that means she's a dancer. And I'll just be her mom, instead of a stage mom.


Variations On A Theme said...

I wonder about that pushing thing with Olivia and her piano. Until recently, we never had a single issue with practicing, but now we're trying to figure out what will work. I just don't want to push her to do anything, but at the same time, it's worthwhile to stick with something if you love it and just push through a difficult part.

Chris and Tiana said...

Is that the dictionary definition of "stage mom?" What dictionary do you read?? :) Seriously, I can't ever see you being the kind of mom who primps her daughter's hair and forces her to wear too much make-up and enter beauty contests. So I think letting Anna dance and try out for the nutcracker is a pretty safe thing for you. I hope she did great!

WordGirl said...

Variations - I agree that it's necessary to balance encouraging and some pushing. Kids are still kids and don't have a long-term view of pushing past a difficult season in something they love. I guess I just need to give myself grace that I am listening to my own heart tell me when to push and when to not.

Tiana - this definition is from the Urban Dictionary. I couldn't find it in a more traditional one and I did think this was a pretty funny and accurate definition! :-)

aimee Guest said...

Okay, well, you just keep working out this system. As much as Micah loves drama "Mommy, why do you think I love drama and dramatic things so much! Do you want to see my crying scene?" I am bound toward the stage mom days. And I think, being that theater is something I'm so passionate about, I will struggle not to encourage(ahem, or push) her toward being THE BEST. It was all I could do after she was in the play, not to say "Stop smiling you're evil." Oh, but I did stop, she only ever heard "great job". I think if it were a sport or anything non-arts driven I would feel less attached.
so what happened with the skirt.

aimee Guest said...

oh, i meant keep working out that system before I get there so that you can show me the right path.

WordGirl said...

Aimee - I let her wear the skirt and I never said anything about it because I didn't want her to second guess herself after the fact. I guess it's a blessing that I am less passionate about my children's passions than they are - it makes it easier for me to not push, just encourage.

rufusjt said...

It worked out OK since A was selected to dance as a garden fairy in the 2009 Nashville Ballet production of The Nutcracker!

Proud Daddy
aka "J"