Saturday, September 25, 2010


:a session of exercise, drill, or practice, usually private, in preparation for a public performance, ceremony, etc.

Being a stage mom doesn't come naturally to me.  For A's 2 pm performance today, we had to arrive at 9 am.  That left time for dress rehearsal, costuming and make-up.  It also left a gap of several hours spent by most of the parents watching the rehearsals, something that I prefer not to do.  As I looked over the schedule for today, I told J that I hate rehearsal days like this because I'm so uncomfortable.  His response?  So don't watch.  My reply?  I feel judged by the other parents who do sit there and watch.  I went on to explain that I don't like to watch the rehearsal because I want the actual performance to be a surprise for me.  It's a bit like Christmas morning for me to watch A dance, especially a dance I haven't seen before.  I've found in the past that watching rehearsals mutes the performance experience for me. J asked whether I had explained that to A and whether she wanted me to watch rehearsals.  I couldn't remember whether I'd discussed it with her in the past.  He suggested I talk to her and said, "It's really A's opinion that counts. If she doesn't care whether you watch or not, who cares what other parents may or may not be thinking?"  So yesterday we talked:

Me: "A, do you know why I don't like to watch rehearsals?"
A: "Because you like for it to be a surprise."
Me: "Is that OK with you?"
A: "Yeah.  If I were you, I think I'd want it to be a surprise, too.  And it would be really hard for you to watch part of it and then leave just when I come on stage."
Me:  "OK.  Thanks, honey."
So here I sit in the hallway listening to classical musical and a faint, "5, 6, 7, 8" through the doors.  I still feel a bit guilty, like I should be doing something other than using a few quiet moments to write.  But I'm trying to quiet that voice because I also spent the last two hours setting up food for the reception, laying out t-shirts and tickets for later sales and generally helping out.  So there's really no reason for me to feel like a slacker.

Downtime during rehearsal

I'm not sure why I have so much trouble listening to what I want.  I'm much more apt to listen to the voices that tell me other things.  Voices that tell me what I want is wrong - or selfish - or odd - or any number of other things.  I'm reading a book that says one of the gifts of allowing yourself to feel hurt is that you then know what you need.  So I'm trying to be more aware of how I feel and take cues from that to help me determine what I need.

I feel overwhelmed and tired after a day from 9 to 5 with non-stop interaction.  Given that, it's not wrong for me to need a bit of quiet in the middle of rehearsal day to fortify myself for the day and the evening to come.  It's funny that my family knows and sees what I need.  J and A were quick to accept the idea that I might be better off not watching a rehearsal if I don't like to watch.  So when the voice of my own heart seems faint and just out of the range of my hearing, I'll listen to the voices of my family, who know and love me, even if I don't.  And I'll remind myself that each of us prepare for performance differently.  And, in fact, I'm not alone in my preference to not watch rehearsals.

As I sat in the hallway typing, the Executive Director of A's ballet school walked up.

P: "Are you writing?"
Me: "I am," I smiled.  "About this, in fact.  About how I hate to watch rehearsals."
P: "Really?  Me, too! It makes me so nervous."
Guess I'm not the only one.


Anonymous said...

Be sure and let us know how the first performance goes. I know A will be wonderful - she always is.

Anonymous said...

I almost cried reading this. I too suffer greatly from guilt, and feeling selfish when considering my own needs. I always need to be pushed (or at least nudged) by my family to do things for myself.

I hope the performance goes well.

EJN said...

Thanks for the post. The last line got me. Isn't that the truth. Sometimes, I wish I had no assumptions about other's expectations, it would make life so much easier.
Ahhh! Freedom, I hear we get there someday.

Anonymous said...

I had a different response to this post. First, let me say that I am VERY glad that you received the support from your family that you needed in order to feel OK doing something for yourself. However, I kinda wanted to hit you in the head reading about your struggle with guilt and worries about other peoples' opinions. Shannon, you do SO much for your kids. Don't feel bad if you want to be a person too. I never feel guilty about taking a few precious moments for myself. OWN those moments, Shannon. You need them. -Christine

WordGirl said...

There were some costume mishaps which made for a stressful afternoon but the performance went well and A was a great tinkerbell.

We returned home to a letter informing Anna that she has been cast a garden fairy again this year in Nashville Ballet's Nutcracker. She is very excited and the hours of rehearsal will give me plenty of opportunity to ponder future soul searching blog posts.