Last weekend before dance recital she did her own lipstick.

It doesn’t seem like such a big deal.  She does her own makeup all the time.  But getting ready for her recital, she decided that she would practice over the summer so she could start doing her own dance makeup next year.

Just like that.

My tiny dancer is no longer tiny.

She doesn’t need me to change every costume, and she insisted that she could pack her own recital “stuff.”  (For anyone who isn’t a dance mom, this “stuff” includes everything from costumes to hair pins to multiple pairs of shoes to fabric tape, but she assured me she checked it all.)

When did my tiny dancer grow up and become so independent?  And, more importantly, how am I supposed to handle that?!?

Let me tell you a secret that isn’t much of a secret.  I was NOT a dancer.  I took my two-year-old into a dance studio nine years ago because as a TWO-YEAR-OLD, she knew she wanted to dance.  I had NO idea what I was getting into.

All-day dance recitals.  Three day dance competitions. Costumes and hair styles and makeup and shoes.  Oh, the shoes! Tap shoes and hip hop shoes and jazz shoes and pointe shoes. She’s like Dorothy but with a whole closet of shoes that take her to her own personal “home.”

And here’s the thing…dance is her HOME.  She loves it, breathes it, and grew up in it.  And now my tiny dancer is growing up. 

Just like that.

But here’s the thing… (you know me…there’s always a thing).

That sweet, responsible girl of mine ended up at a recital with a quick costume change and zero hip hop pants to be found.  There were tears.  There were messes from her dance bag being ripped apart in the dressing room.  There was an entire auditorium waiting on my child to join her group on the stage…in a costume that neither of us realized we had lost weeks before.

But you know what else there was?  There was an incredible mom in the dressing room that ravaged dance bags until she found my daughter pants that semi-matched to dance in.  There was a studio owner who patiently and calmly waited for my kid to get to the stage.  There was a group of girls who took the stage with an imperfect, out-of-costume dancer—my daughter—and loved her all the same.

She ran to the stage in tears, and yet she danced…because the show must go on.  She danced, and despite her mismatched costume, she didn’t miss a beat.

Just like that.

Just like that she proved that dance isn’t all about costumes and glitter and makeup.  Sometimes, it is about showing up when you aren’t perfect, giving your best when you want to cry, and realizing that it isn’t about what you see on the outside.

Just like that my daughter proved that dance has provided the kind of character that allows you to have a panic attack, be late, and still show up for the team that is depending on you.  

If that isn’t real life, I don’t know what is.

So, tonight, when I think of the tiny dancer who is trying so hard to grow up, I will also remember this…

Sometimes we need to fail to learn life.

Sometimes we need to buck up and show up, despite the cards we are dealt.

And sometimes? You still need your mom.

Be grateful (for mom), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

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  1. Amazing post as always. Always written from the heart, always makes me smile. Thanks Angie

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