In a very real way, mothers are their children’s personal assistants. We keep their schedules for them, make appointments and navigate the logistics of those appointments from the dentist to sleepovers to field trips. And while these tasks can seem overwhelming sometimes, we do it with a I’m here to serve attitude because we love our children unconditionally.
Nothing brings this to mind more than being a dance mom. This week, I, along with dozens of others mothers in our dance school, shepherded our daughters through a rehearsal and three dance recitals. The dressing room at the theater was a flurry of activity as mothers delicately created tiny perfect buns, gently folded and put away costumes and accessories into hanging bags, tied ties, fastened suspenders, righted inside-out tights, tied shoes, inserted hair pieces and bobby pins, applied lipstick and powder to shiny, sweaty faces, and then readied the next outfit and accouterments for the next dance.
In between dances, the mothers hurried out to get their hungry dancers dinner - a sandwich or a burger, which they then force-fed them as the girls ran between the stage and the dressing room to ready for the next act.
But one thing I started to notice, as my daughter is in a group of rising and current middle schoolers, was that the girls were subtlety pulling away from their mothers as the week wore on, one bun, one tiny tap shoe at a time.
“I can do it. I don’t need your help,” was the building crescendo in the room from the dancers to their mothers.
“OK, well, I’ll be upstairs watching the show. If you need me, just text me,” the pleasantly surprised mothers replied to their newly independent daughters.
“I just want to see if she could do it herself,” one mother confided in me as we headed out of the dressing room.
As I was vanquished to the lobby, I noticed a group of mothers of older girls returning from dinner at a restaurant down the street. They were laughing and relaxed and told me at their daughters’ ages, they simply “dropped off,” and their daughters prepared for their dances without help from Mom. I was at once envious, and truth be told, a little sad, thinking that that time for me was just around the corner.
As we left the theater that night, rolling the big “Dream Duffel” (if you’re a dance mom, you know what I mean) across the dark parking lot, I quietly listed all of the items in my head to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind.
“Mom, when we get home can you help me put everything away and get ready for bed?” my daughter asked me with a weary voice.
“Of course I can,” I replied with much more cheer than I felt after a long day of work and a long night at the theater. But silently in my head I was cheering ... she still needs me, she still needs me ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.