Every Tuesday you make me work for it. For motherhood. For a sense of calm. For it.
Your big sister has dance at 5:30… a great hour for her to expel energy and work it out, but the time that you need me to give you all the love and nursies. It’s your time of day for loving, and when we are home, you get all those lovings while in the carrier or perched on my hip while we prep dinner or cuddled on the couch. But at dance, it’s just you and lots of people who have watched you grow up.
Since the summer, when Addie began at this studio, the same parents have seen you merge from crawler to babywearing sleeper, to walker then runner. Your interest in just nursing have moved to wanting that comfort only randomly, and more to wanting to touch everything… and why not? You’re learning, and exploration is how you do that.
But mommy feels judged. Harshly. A lot. And mostly, just at dance.
There is a dad who doesn’t like that I nurse… or maybe he doesn’t like that I like sports. Or maybe he doesn’t like me? Maybe it’s not me at all and he just doesn’t smile? Whatever it is, it sucks. There is a mom who feeds her kids on a bench and expects to not be flocked by you, my sweet curious toddler. And I wish I could expect the same, but I know how toddlers work, and man those crackers do look good. I scoop you up and you cry- her kids need to eat their food alone, Mills. We’ve talked about this. But you don’t get it. And how could you? Your crying, though brief, is intense. And then that dad gives me a look. And I feel so helpless in my parenting all over again.
I’ve brought toys with me, but you don’t play in a neat box. You are creative, and silly, and you explore. You want to play everywhere. And why shouldn’t you? Rolling cars in a perfectly contained area never made for much fun. We read books, but you have the attention span of a 16 month old… and that only lasts for a few minutes before you’re back. Looking into Addie’s dance bag, hoping you can tap her shoes on the floor, or begging for a sip of water to spill on your shirt. So you play in this slightly messy manner, and it lights you up… but it, too, brings disapproving looks.
And I feel eyes, boring into me.
I wish there were smiles with those looks. But there are just looks.
Except from 3 people who have come to make me feel like there’s a little dance family going on. Three parents out of the ten or so all waiting in the sometimes too hot sometimes too cold room, have given me a bit of hope that maybe this is just a phase. Which I know it is. I know someday you will know everything, and my heart will ache to chase you all over the tiled floor. I will miss your exploring.
And Addie will still be in dance.
There will be other parents who come to the studio, and they will have babies who will grow into toddlers, and it will be hard for them, and I hope to G- I greet them with a smile.
I used to work at the studio as you slept in the carrier… now that’s not an option. I’ve thought about leaving and coming back when Addie gets out, but what if she needs us for something? We can’t really win Millie, and dance parents can be so damn judgmental, with just a flick of their eyes in the right way… it can cut a mom in half.
But you light me up, and your Dad fills me with confidence. He lets me be the mother I am.
He’s never batted an eye when you pull my shirt almost clear off in the middle of a busy store. When I tell him church was particularly hard, he assures me that I did OK… that you guys are just learning. If we make a mess at dinner and I’m in all fours, near tears trying to clean the restaurant floor, he doesn’t judge my insanity, he gets down there with me and helps me clean as best we can. And, in return, he’s
kind of awesome and quirky, too.
Your Dad is an amazing man.
For his birthday, I give him my confidence. My confidence in myself as a mother and a wife.
We’re doing great, kid. We really are.
Happy birthday, Dave. And happy exploration, Millie. Here’s to a lot more dance classes filled with parents who seem to forget they were here once, too.