musings and rants of just another dance mom


Before I begin, and before anyone jumps to conclusions after only reading the title, note that these musings and rants could likely be applicable to almost any band mom, soccer mom, baseball mom, football mom, mathalete mom, choir mom, theater mom, debate team mom, cheer mom, __insert child’s extra-curricular activity here__ mom…or dad.

There you are at the latest competitive activity for your awesome child. You are happy, You are proud. You are a little teary because your baby is up there performing her all…and it is the last year for you both. Your kid is awesome! The awards and scholarships they are awarded confirms what you already know but it is still nice to see other people, people whose education and experience makes them qualified to have such an opinion agree with you. So you clap enthusiastically and cheer loudly as she performs and during awards because it makes everything that goes into making this moment possible so worth it.

But then you see what is the embarrassment of riches awarded to the bigger studio/team. Truly you don’t begrudge their achievement because the talent, the originality, the creativity is there so the excess is well deserved. You just wish some of that surplus was weighing down your kid too.

You’re only human.

But would it be worth it? Would your kid have the same opportunities there competing with so many other equally talented and hard-working kids? Perhaps not. Dancers have left the little studio before with the hopes and dreams of this happening only to not make the cut to be part of the elite at the bigger studio because it often requires much more than just talent and ability. It’s happened before, a number of times before that you have seen.

Through the years, you have witnessed your awkward, knobby knees and elbows kid, who could barely keep the beat, emerge into a talented force to be noticed when she takes the stage whether it be jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, pointe or, her first love, tap. When you witness instructors or dancers from other studios make their way over to compliment your dancer or even have teachers from a rival studio tell you that they loved watching your kid on stage dancing the part of Cinderella you know you made the right decision. Of course the decision was not wholly yours as your dancer made it clear where she wanted to train and learn too.

Still, this weekend you couldn’t help feeling just a little bit of pangs of jealousy because what parent supporting their child’s dreams doesn’t wish for them to be regarded as more than a “Triple Threat” up on that stage and every other stage they may take? Until your kid witnesses the director of another studio angrily wave a six year old off the stage for briefly forgetting choreography and glancing off stage in his direction…and then yelling at the poor little kid backstage…a six year old! Some might ascribe to this Abby Lee-esque tactic of teaching and coaching but seeing first hand the growth and success your dancer has realized you find yourself nodding in agreement with multi-award winning dancers, teachers and choreographers, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas who both maintained that …correct teaching is patience, discipline, confidence building and love..and Miller (and others like that -my words) needs a reality check. Dance is meant to be fun and inspirational, not abusive.

And if that wasn’t enough for you to say to yourself that, yes, we don’t need to be a part of that; there are some of the families, decked out in all the studio gear that identifies who they are and where they come from behaving badly. Case in point, if you’re going to loudly demand a woman with an infant move out YOUR SEAT because there is nothing in and around your seat to indicate that it is yours, you might want to take note that everyone sitting around your seat knows who you represent because of what you are wearing.
Yes, that happened.
The same would go for the other families on your team who insisted all Sunday morning to stand in the front of the auditorium searching for the perfect place to sit, blocking the view of the audience behind them from seeing the dance happening on stage at that very moment. Again, wearing the studio gear makes it very easy to identify who you are and who you represent, especially when all of you are repeatedly asked by many in the audience to please sit down or wait until the dance on stage is done. Everyone gets that you want a good seat to see your child/grandchild/friend on stage but to block the views of families anxious to see their child/grandchild/friend dancing on stage at that very moment?
Really?!
You ask yourself who is that rude? Then you ask yourself if you would want to be identified as part of that…would you want your kid to be a part of that?

Of course the answer is no.

And so you let go those little pangs of jealousy because it was a good weekend for your daughter who dances with all the gold, high gold and special judges’ awards and the scholarship that she is taking home as proof of that. Even more so, her saying out loud, “This was a great weekend!“, makes it so.

selfie love


As if this blog wasn’t self-indulgent enough, I have been participating in a 365 day photo project: the #365feministselfie project.

The what?

Why?

Go ahead and roll your eyes. I know you want to.

You feel better now?

Good.

Talking about one’s sense of self love and self worth, Tamryn Hall recently shared, “It was not a magazine that formed my opinion of myself, it was what my mother told me…“. Ms Hall’s statement struck a very loud chord with me. How true this is. Children learn what they live. She went on recalling all the positive words her mother, her father, her extended family have always said to her about her and how that has always been with her with every success and setback in her life.

When I started writing in this blog, I began because I needed a safe place to put my thoughts, my fears and frustration. My plate was overloaded raising my five children including a very angry teen pushing hard and breaking through as many boundaries as possible and a medically fragile toddler whose weekdays were busy with appointments with specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy. My brother had recently died and honestly, it seemed like I was the only member of my family who was mourning him. So much was rattling around in my head that I had to have a place to put it and here is where most of it went. Through the years this has been a place where I could write about what ever I wanted to write about…my thoughts, my fears, my tears, my joys, my opinions…and they all mattered here.

Pretty much my entire life, even now, I have been told what is wrong with me…how I talk, how I walk, the colors in my wardrobe, I’m too skinny, I’m getting fat, my career choice, my parenting choices, my opinions, my beliefs, what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, my thoughts…and on and on and on and on….and it STILL goes on because as I approach my 52nd birthday I still need the correction criticism like I am still a child. It’s hard, very hard to recall ever hearing “I’m proud of you for being you”.

Children learn what they live.

But as this blog grew through the years into more than 3,500 entries, I have evolved and have grown to like me a lot. I like the parent that I am. I like the NICU RN that I am and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. My thoughts, my beliefs and my opinions are indeed my own and they are most definitely just as important as anyone’s…maybe more so to me because they are mine. Ten years of navel-gazing writing has exorcised a lot of demons and damage. Of course, it is a work in progress.

Which brings me to my own #365feministselfie. Pretty indulgent and narcissistic of me, isn’t it? Oh, and definitely attention seeking too.

Enough!

Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”

Hello, this is me.

I’m discovering that in this exercise.

I’ve never liked nor respected too much the image that reflected back in the mirror at me. I’ve never really seen what my darling husband has seen and still sees…I recently overheard him say that he has a hot wife. I don’t know if I will ever see what he sees or what my kids see; but I am starting to see things in these selfies that I do like…my curves, my edges and my perfect imperfections.

Self-indulgent.

Of course.

Still it is a very important part of my exercise in self-love.

Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day with a red zit glowing at  the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile. A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.

Added bonus is the kids will have a few pictures of me for my memorial someday.

And if the daily blog ruminations and selfies aren’t enough to cluck one’s tongue over…

It’s my birthday month!

light and fluffy


Although Hazel has absolutely no patience while sitting in a very slow drive thru line at our friendly, neighborhood Starbucks with her Mima, she did discover this week that her hot chocolate is even more delicious with one pump raspberry syrup.

Inspired by The Lego Movie, which he has managed to see twice already, Daniel handled the assault to his senses during the dance preview creating this awesomeness with his Legos.

Meanwhile I found myself identifying with Tresa Edmunds here about living with our “magical burdens”.

Yes…blah, blah, blah…and laughing until I cried.

In other news, I sent off my submission to audition for Listen To Your Mother because dear Kizz encouraged me to try again because she thinks I have plenty of stories to tell.

Meanwhile this girl attended her first Stockton Thunder hockey game.

Truth be told, it actually was not her first hockey game. But this time she was not a sleeping, swaddled infant. No, she was right there cheering and yelling and people watching with her family. She probably liked it best because she could yell like crazy.

My daughter, Hollie Austa, is a pretty awesome person. One thing most parents wish and hope for is that their kids are better people than they are/were. Yes, she is a great mother. I’ve already talked about that. Today she just confirmed what I already knew about her (and her sisters and brother). She has a very kind heart. Not everybody would have come alongside someone to offer the kind of patience, kindness and help that she did for someone we know today. But my kid did. Proud of you Hollie!

And lastly, right now this is one of my favorite songs on my running playlists for so many reasons.

I don’t always listen to Gangsta Rap when I run.

this year’s miles


Bill gifted me with a Fitbit for Christmas which is a good thing because I was wishing for one. Then again, I can be very competitive even with myself so I am obsessed to best my total steps taken each and every day in the first week that I have been wearing that little Fitbit. Best day so far was 15,362 steps because nurses are on their feet A LOT!

I am running again…tentatively…very slow…even slower than my granny pace before I fractured my foot and rocked that boot all over Ocean City, Maryland last summer. It only took more than six months and a lot of whining and pain and perhaps more whining. At least my family might say there was more whining. I don’t know. I wasn’t listening because I was too busy walking with pain and whining about not being able to run. But yes, I am running again and I am pretty happy about it no matter how slow and how not nearly as far as I was running before I fractured my calcaneus.

So to celebrate the start of a new year and the fact that I can run, very slowly, I ran 5 miles and during that run I thought a lot as I do when I run. I thought about the previous year. It wasn’t a bad year just as much as it wasn’t a wonderful year. It was a year where I tried my best to just embrace it. It wasn’t always easy the embracing (see broken foot ramblings above) but I learned to be more accepting of the good and of the bad. I thought about my family and how we are all too quickly changing and growing and getting older because time runs on. I remembered my Aunt Kathy who died very suddenly Christmas Day morning. She really helped to save me from myself and the demons of my childhood; she and her husband and my other aunt and uncle who all invited me to come to California after high school. I thought about the life she lived. The lives she touched. Even the lives she touched that she could never begin to know about because she encouraged me to take another path away from the dysfunctional highway I grew up on. It hasn’t always been an easy path but I am so glad I got off-road making my own way. I don’t think I ever said “thank you” to her…at least I never said “thank you” formally. Still I imagine she knew of my gratitude for her firm but gentle persuasion and guidance. Conversations that we have shared over the years, yes, I imagine that she knew and I hope that even if I wasn’t her child that she was proud perhaps just a little bit.

An hour passed and soaked with sweat, I looked down at the little Fitbit clipped to my running bra I saw the miles I ran and I knew what my one word for 2014 would be.

MILES!

Not necessarily miles I hope to run this year. I will be sure to run and walk lots of miles no doubt. I know for certain I will be logging even more miles heading to dance competitions and auditions in my poor old mom-car this last year that Jodie dances competitively as well as more trips to Madera to see Daniel’s endocrinologist. Who knows how many other adventures there will be but there will be many, many miles that I will be logging one way or another. And then I recall a poem I has to memorize in seventh grade…thank you Mr. Forgey.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I have no clue as to how many more miles I must go but I do hope that I will savor each and every one of them and the memories made along the way as best that I can because the fact that I can log all of these miles is truly something to be grateful for.

it’s a wonderful life. because…


Being the pessimist who desperately tries to see the glass as half full kind of girl that I am, I have been trying hard to see the good and enjoy the good of this holiday season because if I don’t try it is just another day and week and month in another year. Plus there is the children. I must try for the children. So I settled down last night under my cozy, cuddly green blanket that a friend made me for one Christmas ago and watch It’s A Wonderful Life; which is, hands down, my favorite go-to holiday movie. Capra-corny as it is, I know. What can I say? I sometimes identify with good ol’ George Bailey sometimes wishing that I had never been born especially when things are especially sucky. Melodramatic, yes it is. But it’s who I am. I’m not the first self-sacrificing giver with big, fat feelings who has ever felt that in my lowest of low moments. Still being the self-sacrificing giver with big, fat feelings that I am, I do try to find good…especially when I feel weighed down by too much bad. So I play Christmas music as much as I can (except for Mariah Carey- sorry, not sorry), I visit Santa with my favorite son, I watch happy, happy children sing their hearts out at Christmas concerts. I smile when I’d much rather cry and I just keep trying to find the wonderful because it is out there.

So curled up with my new Zelda-kitty, I find myself watching It’s A Wonderful Life reciting the dialogue and I just have to share…on social media…

of course…

because it is 2013 and hey, anything to turn down the Phil Robertson – Duck Dynasty and Justine Sacco noise because there is so much more important things to think about and talk about rather than two people freely expressing their bigoted views while on their companies’ dime and time. So I put it out there simply saying:

It’s A Wonderful Life. Because…

and then it happened…

Friends began to answer:

I have two healthy and happy kids!!

All of my adult daughters are home for the holidays…and we’re only fighting a little!

Our whole family will be together for 5 days this Christmas

I know you…

Each person’s life touches so many other’s.

I have good friends that distance doesn’t matter with.

My children are in good places in their lives!

My brother is coming for Christmas today!!

We live, we breathe, we love, we’re loved, and we can still do good in the world.

Aw, you guys! I swear I could feel my heart grow three sizes bigger as I read all the replies. I know! That’s a totally different story.

Still.

It’s a wonderful life!

Thank you! Thank you, dear friends, for helping me appreciate so much more than just the Capra-corn.