This past week, Bella performed in her 7th Nutcracker and Gabs in her 4th. I remember Bella’s 1st like it was yesterday. I remember how my heart swelled and that tiny little snowflake made my heart burst. I thought that was it. That was as big as a mama’s heart could get. I was wrong.
The girls are getting older and the parts are getting more advanced technically and more detailed. They are no longer the littlest ballerinas practicing for a month for one singular part on stage for 30 seconds in the first half. They have advanced into the world of double castings and multiple roles. They are battling in the first half, quick changing and ethereally descending upon the land of sweets in Act 2. This is exciting if not exhausting.
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They embrace every new part and responsibility like it’s their job. You know, if you really loved your job. Every night since Thanksgiving weekend, the girls have been at either rehearsal or performances after school from 4 to 11 p.m. and that doesn’t even include the school performances they were a part of during 3 of those days.
I am awed at how they not only endure this grueling schedule but embrace every single moment of it. They came home every night either dressed their American Girl dolls as the cast of the Nutcracker and reenacted the ballet or they played the Marinsky Nutcracker on-demand and danced along. How they had the energy, I will never know but they thrive in this environment. I’m exhausted just from driving them, I can’t imagine how tired I’d be if I were actually dancing every day.
The thing with ballet and any ballet mom will tell you this, is that it takes an inordinate amount of discipline and dedication, especially when you are in those transition years between a child and a young woman. That is where my girls are at. Bella is at ballet 5 days a week and she loves every single moment. She is excited to go there; to dance and to be with her friends. It’s taken me 9 years but I finally realized that dance is not something you do, it’s a way of life.
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This year, Gabi was an angel for the second year and Bella was the lead soldier in the brigade and the biggest bonbon. Both girls did an amazing job and I’m not just saying that as their mom, I’m saying that as an avid ballet enthusiast.
The one thing that I will never forget about this year’s Nutcracker is not the backstage drama (which there is always plenty of), the difficulty of quick change make-up and costume changes or even the sheer coma-like exhaustion we all succumb to during Nutcracker season, no the thing I will never forget is seeing my daughters’ faces light up as soon as the music begins to swell.
First, let me preface this by saying that every time that I see my daughters’ perform, I get a little misty eyed. I’m a mom, that’s what you do when you see them growing up right before your eyes. However, I don’t normally get so choked up that the tears linger long after the show is over. That happened to me this year.
Seeing your child do something for the first time, never gets old. Watching your child take the stage after months of practice, rehearsals and dedication and absolutely nailing it is priceless but seeing your child exude true, real happiness when performing is moving.
This year, for the first time in a long time, when Bella took the stage as a Bon Bon I saw real happiness not only exude but actually escape her. She was smiling so hard and enjoying herself so much that you couldn’t help but enjoy her performance. It wasn’t the fake performance smile that all mothers know too well, it was genuine, complete and confident satisfaction with herself. I didn’t just get misty-eyed, I full on cried and then I cried again over dinner that night two hours later because I got so choked up remembering that smile, the same one I saw the time she took her first step.
The girls did an amazing job and I’m so proud of them. They are already discussing which parts they hope to get next year. Collectively they’ve already played a little snowflake, a parrot, a page, an angel (X4), a baby soldier, soldier brigade (x2), a mouse and a Bon Bon. Who knows what the next year might bring? What I do know is that I will be there; watching from side stage as my girls give me a thumbs up, a wink or a special smile and I’ll be in the audience watching and getting choked up like I always do because that’s what we do. I’ll be there to support their dreams however I need to.
What’s been a moment in parenting where you’ve just been so proud of your child that you almost couldn’t keep your composure?