I run through the list in my head. Dance costume? Check. Jazz shoes? Check. Do I need hairpins? No, this is only the dress rehearsal. I’ll get hairpins and hairspray before next week’s recital.
I reach in my closet and get the costume. I don’t know why I have butterflies in my stomach. It’s my nine-year-old daughter who will be preforming, not me.
Check the time. 11:45. OK. I’ll get her in the shower, and she can have lunch, get dressed, and then run to the rehearsal. I want to get there early so we can both relax before it gets crazy with all the other classes getting ready to go over their routines.
12:15. We’re still on schedule.
“Lizzy, come on. Let’s get our costume on.”
“Oh, mommy! This is so pretty and sparkly.”
Lizzy poses in the mirror. Hand on one hip, the other arm extend up. She definitely has inherited my ham gene.
“I look beautiful.”
“You do. You look like a princess.”
My oldest, Tom, comes in and sees her posing in front of the mirror.
“Lizzy, you look so pretty. You are going to do such a good job.”
“Thank you Tom.” She is so lucky to have an older brother who adores her.
“Lizzy! Look at you! You look so pretty!” Joe beams at his daughter and grabs my hand.
For a brief moment, we are just like any other parents who are seeing their daughter get ready for a dance recital. There’s nothing “special” about us.
We get to the school where the recital is at 1:00 p.m. Perfect.
Lizzy and I are both excited to see all the dancers in their costumes. Ballerinas. Cowgirls. Hip hop girls. Where are the girls from our group? I look around, and we are the only ones here. I hope I didn’t mess up the time. We were supposed to be at the second rehearsal, right?
Big sigh of relief as I see the girls from her class arrive.
I love the sense of community and excitement I have with the other moms. There is an unspoken understanding, and we huddle around each other. The other dancers–typical little girls, who don’t have to struggle for every milestone–walk around us. We do our best to ignore the stares.
Miss Maria comes over and gives each girl a huge hug and kiss. The pride she has in “her” dancers is obvious to anyone within a mile.
I look at this amazing woman and wonder how I’ll ever be able to adequately thank her for giving my daughter the chance to be like any other little girl that day.
It’s time for the girls to line up. Because this is Lizzy’s fourth recital, she doesn’t need me to “babysit” her backstage as I once did. Nervously, I kiss her and walk to the auditorium with the other parents. I see Joe, the boys, and my parents. My mother is already crying, and Lizzy isn’t even on the stage yet.
“How’s Lizzy doing? Do you think it is a good idea to leave her alone backstage? Who’s back there with her?”
These questions don’t come from Joe or my parents, but from Tom. I swear he is more protective of her then all of us combined, and that is saying a lot.
I glance over at my six-year-old, Peter, who has two tissues stuck in his ears. I look up at my mom and she just smiles and shakes her head.
The girls come on the stage, and my heart is now in my mouth, beating so loudly I would swear everyone else can hear it.
Lizzy’s smile lights up the stage. She is dancing so well, only forgetting a few steps, and I only know that because we have been going over the routine for months.
Watching her dance with joy, I can’t help myself, the tears just stream down my face. I look over to see Joe grinning ear to ear. Tom and my parents are beaming. Even Peter, tissues still sticking out of his ears, is smiling.
The dance ends, the audience roars with applause, and I am so excited that I get to do the whole thing over next week. I run and give my dancer a huge hug. What a lucky mom I am.
*This is a re-working of a piece that originally ran on the Dishwasher, June 5, 2011, under the title, Proud to be a Stage Mother.