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Amanda Lamb: Dance mania

Posted June 19, 2011

My kids recently took part in their end-of-year dance recitals, and to say I was woefully unprepared is an understatement.

This year, we were at a new dance school. My youngest daughter was involved in three dances, my oldest in one. I had no idea the time and extensive preparation that went into these things.

First of all, they were involved in two intense dress rehearsals the week prior to the performances. The girls had to arrive at the rehearsals complete with costumes, accessories and makeup. Unfortunately, I was out of town for work and my babysitter had to take my youngest daughter to her rehearsal. I now know she is nothing less than a saint for doing this. One of the generous mothers had taken pity on me and made some adjustments to my youngest daughter's costume. I gave her a coffee shop gift card for her kindness, a minuscule thank you in return for something I consider an insurmountable task - sewing. Amanda Lamb's daughter

On the night of the show, the mothers arrived with their costumes hanging on rolling carts in plastic bags. They had makeup kits and coolers full of snacks. I had the costumes over my arm, my own makeup to share with my kids from my purse, and change from the floor of my car for the vending machine. The dance mothers were like pros, French braiding hair, lining little lips, lacing tiny shoes in the blink of an eye while I fumbled with too-small tights, lumpy mascara and pony tails that wouldn't lay right.

The first night we spent four-and-a-half hours at the theatre as my younger daughter's dances were spread out throughout the evening. My friends' children were not dancing until the second half of the show, so I texted them when it was time to come to the theater. They in turn texted me photographs of their lovely dinner. My oldest daughter's dance was at the very end of the night, so I was there for the long haul, regardless.

I was much more prepared for the matinee the following day. I arrived with a cooler, one hanger per costume and the most essential item - my laptop. Of course, I forgot a brush to fix their hair with, but that was minor compared to what I had forgotten the first day. I even had a neighbor bring my oldest daughter later in the day so that she would not have to wait around all day long. But I was still not totally prepared for the costume changes, the constant re-application of makeup, and the basic task of keeping track of where we were in the show.

Clearly, I am not cut out to be a dance mom. But at the end of the experience I asked my youngest daughter if she was interested in doing this next year. Her answer, an emphatic "Yes."

In the aftermath, my friend posted some photographs of her on Facebook dancing. Her smile was unmistakable. And so was mine when I looked at them. I guess I will have to grow into my new role with a little help from the pros.

Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.



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  • thefensk Jun 21, 2011

    If they get really serious, it might never end. Our daughter started very young and now after fine arts high school and a degree in dance we still get pressed in to assist at the school where she teaches. And she still TAKES too ... after all that Ballet and Modern and Tap and Jazz, she's been bitten by the Ballroom bug. We just attended a mini-competition at her ballroom studio where she was simply dazzling.

  • Killian Jun 21, 2011

    Oh, and go to Lowe's and get a 5gal bucket with a lid. It holds anything, and then you can get a little round cushion and velcro it to the top, and voila. Your dancer has a seat!

  • Killian Jun 21, 2011

    Oh man, I cannot tell you how hard I laughed when I read this. THANK YOU. And please don't confused being a newbie with being "not cut out to be a dance mom". You'll do just fine.

    My eldest is an Irish Dancer, so we have the school dress for figures, the wig, the solo dress (that I had to make, because she is so blessed picky!), socks, sock GLUE, the ghillies, the hard shoes, the maekup, all of it. Trust me, I feel your pain!

    But it gets easier. I now own a tshirt that reads, "I don't dance, I just finance!" and it speaks the truth. We now carry extra bobby pins and sock glue for teary girls whose wig or socks are slipping and their mom isn't right there. Despite it being a competitive sport, NO dancer will allow a fellow girl to have her wig fall when she has bobby pins there.

    Have fun with it!

  • warsawbc Jun 21, 2011

    My daugher took dance for 14 years!! It really does get easier. By the time your daughters are in their teens, you will be the perfect dance mom!

  • kittiboo Jun 20, 2011

    Oh, lord, this is my nightmare. I can't be bothered to do my OWN makeup, ain't no way I'm gonna be putting it on my kid! Luckily she seems to be the tomboy sort, and washing dirt out of her hair is a more appropriate task for this mama! =)

  • dobetter Jun 20, 2011

    Head to the nearest Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart or hardware store and get yourself a Stanley! It's a rolling toolbox, believe it or not. It will make your life as a dance mom so much easier. All those small pieces, make-up, jewelry etc can fit in there. I use the bottom part as a cooler. Here's a picture that can explain it better:
    The site: will be a wealth of information for you. My daughter will start her 14th year in dance this fall. Wouldn't trade a minute of it!

  • 4.13 Jun 20, 2011

    Don't be discouraged. My daughter began dance at age 3. She is now 15 and can handle the entire process on her own. Learn as much as you can and enjoy every minute. Before you know it, she'll being doing her own make up, costumes, hair, etc.

  • simmons8487 Jun 20, 2011

    Maybe the "pros" should should offer a class to the novice mothers on tips and tricks. My daughter is not old enough yet but I will definitely try and remember to get advice before I embark on that journey. Thanks for giving me something else to add to my book of help for later.

  • DWH4sure Jun 20, 2011

    We just completed our 5th year of dance, capped off by a weekend of recitals. I remember all too well our first year, when I was looking around at these other moms who were calmly dressing their girls, while I was frantically trying to get my daughter's hair into some semblance of a bun. The next year was a little better, the next year even better - each year I think of some new "trick" to make costume/hair changes a little easier. As long as my daughter enjoys dancing, I'll happily go through the headache of recitals. :o)

  • ladybug68 Jun 20, 2011

    sounds like my grands recitals--they are 4 & 6 and LOVE it--so does the two year old who cannot attend class yet! such a confidence builder