Yesterday was bitter sweet.

Have you ever watched “So you think you can Dance?”

Have you ever seen a performance that moves you so much by it’s pure combination of music, feeling, and movement that it overtakes every bit of you and you actually cry? 

I have, and it was yesterday.

It wasn’t on some reality TV show, but watching Noo’s last dance with her company team at Center Stage.  I know that not everyone will agree with this decision that Jon and I with Noo made together, but that is OK.  One thing I have learned over the course of many children is to start and believe in myself…in the answers and promptings I get for my children and not worry about how other people would do it.

I am the only mother of this child, and I am the one that knows her inside and out. I take time daily studying how my kids act and react in every situation.  From the minute they are born, I have been interested in how my children processes the world around them differently and how there is no way to parent each child then same.

I remember watching frustrations between my siblings when one received more than the other, when it was seemingly not fair.  I recall my dad saying,

 “When you are a parent, you will understand that each child is parented differently.  No matter how hare you try to keep it “fair”.  

In my case, I am the oldest and was lucky to borrow my parents car to drive to school when I was 16, while my sister was helped to buy a car for herself.  It didn’t made sense to me, but now in hind sight it makes perfect sense.

I was the oldest, and she was the youngest.  There was more money to help her with something like that after they got my butt out of the house!  I am a completely different mother to Bug than I was to Mack when she was young {monetarily and patience wise}

I am weathered.

I know which storms to engage in and which to let roll over in the sky.

  This year has been  a long one and has had impact on us all.  Noo has had a rough year in school worrying about friends, struggled staying up with math *I can relate*, and most of all wrestled with being a 12 year old girl.  If you are a woman, there is no other description needed.  Without going into personal, unneeded detail…we decided as a family that for now, she needed a break from company.  It’s actually amazing we made it as long as we did this year, but she will miss the very fun spring programs and trip to New York to compete.

It was emotional and very hard to tell her coach and team.  They all have worked so hard together and some would see this as quitting or giving up.  I disagree.  We took the harder road to save something more important.  We chose to save Noo.

Her instructor asked us to come in and tell the team to their faces and I have to admit, I could barely imagine putting her through that.  I almost told her no.  Girls can be so mean at this age, and she has already been through so much.  In the end, I agreed with her teacher that we want Noo to feel welcome to return at any time and let the girls hug and bond while saying goodbye instead of the nasty back biting that undoubtedly goes on at this age.

We walked into the studio…

“Mom, I don’t want to be here…”

“Do you think I want to be here?…”

“umm no?”

“I can go outside and wait for you if you want, or I can stay with you.”

“Come with me”

“OK, it will be alright.  If they are mean we will just leave.”

Some girls from her team saw her and walked past without a hello, and a few decided to greet her.  Noo started to tear up and all I could do was stand by her side and wait.  Eventually her teacher saw us standing in the hall and said,

“I know it is hard to be here, but it will be over soon.”

Being the baby I am that feels intense emotion for others *maybe more than myself most times* I started to tear up also.  I remember OH so well the drama, emotions, exhausting feelings of inferiority and  thoughts of somehow never being good enough, pretty enough, or talented enough.  I am relieving this over and over again in each daughter.

I gave her a hug and we walked to her studio class room.  Inside, there were groups of girls chattering, some staring and others waving at Noo.

“Mom, can I play your games on your phone?”

“Yes, of course.”

*Fruit Ninja has become her way to deal with stress the past few weeks and she has the highest score I have ever heard of.  I mean, this girl can slice fruit like nobodies business.*

Somehow I felt like a young girl again.  How can these little eyes everywhere bring me back to my insecurities as a teen?  I remember dancing at this age.  I remember the body image issues all of them were dealing with but somehow it feels like you are the only one.

The teacher called us over, and by brilliant design had a bucket of popcorn sitting out for the girls.  There was a couple ready to perform for the class so we all scooted up against the mirrored wall and waited for the treat about to unfold before our eyes.  They were dressed in black and had been trained since early youth *I am sure* in ballroom, ballet, Jazz, and many other specialties.

They began, and I was in awe.  

I remember dancing, but it was never anything like this.  It is normal for kids now to do at least a triple turn, while I struggled for my double for years.  The bar is somehow raised higher and higher and I sometimes wonder what the limit is?? Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s both.  The hours of training are unheard of, the stress load on these young kids overwhelming…but as a society we do it.

I wish I had  recording t show you the dance they executed, but I don’t.  It was perfectly choreographed with lifts, turns, cute parts, funny parts and parts that made your mouth drop.  They were completely in sync in emotion, body, and energy.  It was brilliant.

After it was over, everyone clapped and I knew what was about to happen.  The teacher brought everyone around and began to talk:

“Girls, dancing is what we do, it’s not who we are.  It is more important to be a good person than to be the best dancer.  Sometimes at different times in our lives we have to take a break from things to put our lives into order (I can’t tell you how happy I was that she was getting it right, and not rude).  Noo has decided that it is time for her to take a little break and I wanted to make sure that everyone treats her well.  She is always welcome to come back and take more classes.  One of the best dancers that came out of Center Stage was a girl that took a 2 year break. I trust that you will not talk behind her back and treat her with kindness.  She is a very good dancer and we need to respect their families decision.”

By this point I was in tears and so was Noo.  

The teacher turned to Noo and asked if she had anything she wanted to add.  She shook her head and then the question turned on me.  Of course I had to say something….so I just reiterated what had already been expressed, that we didn’t want to do this but we knew it was the right decision for right now.  (through a great amount of emotion)

It calmed down for a minute and everyone hugged Noo.  The teacher went on to say,

“Will you teach us the parts to the dances you are in? I know it’s been a hard day, and you don’t have to.”

“Yes, that would be fine.”

The teacher walked over to the radio and put on the music lullaby they would be dancing to.  I want to find out the name of the song because it was absolutely beautiful.  The only problem is that I am a huge music person.  Music describes the soul in a way that none else can, other than maybe dance or art.  Music is on another level and effects every part of my being.  

As the music began, I was overwhelmed and knew I could never control my emotion.  Watching my baby girl dance with her company for the last time was intense.  She is a beautiful dancer, perfect in timing, movement, energy, flexibility, and strength.  I was having flash backs of her as a 3 year old in gymnastics with her little curled pig tails and leotard.  I could just visualize the first time she made it into the splits and the huge look of achievement written all over her face.  Soon it progressed into beautiful split leaps, flips, and everything involved with gymnastics.  Eventually we made the change into dance because that was where her true love was held.  She brought her outstanding strength and talents from the gym and incorporated them into her dancing. 

I was watching this young lady, my girl, grow up before my very eyes…faster than I could comprehend. How can I hand her happiness and self esteem?  How can I convey her beauty and intelligence to her.  Every compliment I give is disregarded because I am mom.  

Tears were flowing as she graced the floor with her presence.  

Her sensitivity came through her dancing, her hurt, her pain, and her happiness for doing what she loved. Her turns were graceful and her leaps soared.  I was a wreck, and soon I noticed her teacher crying also.  It was powerful, lovely, and perfect. The poor girl sitting next to me was quite terrified I am afraid.  She must have thought the world was coming to an end.

And in a way it is. 

 Her childhood is coming to an end, and she has moved into the tumultuous waters of teenage hood.  I was so proud of her for taking and stand and accepting that this is what was best for the moment, and that life would go on.  

As the song came finished, I wiped the last tears from my eyes and felt bad I had probably embarrassed her.  The teacher looked at me and said, “

“I was fine until she started to dance.”

I agreed through my tears and asked if she could still come to classes when she wanted to for fun.  She said she could because we were in a contract and had to pay tuition anyway and she may as well use it.  

She will be happier still attending classes when she can and to stay on track, but for fun. She doesn’t need the stress that the team brings right now, in addition to everything else…but she would be very sad without dance all together.

She finished giving hugs all the way around, and we left.

When we got home, we ate some “Kneaders” salad together and watched

 “Funniest home videos.”

She insisted that she wasn’t hungry, but I knew as her mother that as soon as she tasted the food she would change her mind.  

After a bit, I told her it was time for bed.

“But, I’m not tired.”

“Yes you are, you just don’t know it yet.”

She was emotionally exhausted.  I walked her into bed, fixed it extra comfortable and tucked her in.  She is getting old enough that I don’t do this every night and I miss it.  I sat by her for a minute and brushed the hair from her face.  

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Her eyes were glazed and I looked for her ipod for 10 minutes so she could play “fruit ninja* again at her request.   I didn’t find it but she had relaxed enough to sleep,

and sleep she did.