Day 172: Dance Recitals and Jewel

Our oldest daughter has been taking dancing lessons since she was three, and she really has a gift.  Twice every year they do a big recital and we get to see her perform with the other girls in her class.  They practice and rehearse for weeks and, partially because she is a perfectionist, our living room is transformed into a dance stage (have I mentioned we don’t even own a coffee table?).

This year she tried a new type of dance, and while she was very excited to do it, she realized a few weeks in that she is a full year younger than the next youngest girl in her class and she is the only one who has never had a formal lesson in this specific kind of dance.  To further complicate things, her teacher does not speak much English, and neither do some of the other dancers.  Still, our little girl is determined, and she made up her mind she was going to be good, and she is.  As the weeks passed by I watched her develop this new confidence, and I am so proud of her.  Most things in life come easily to her, she is just one of those people who seems to be good at everything she tries, and I really wasn’t sure how she would handle this kind of challenge.  There were a few tears, to be sure, but mostly a quiet determination that turned to a giant smile when she realized she got it.

I basically think my children walk on water, as I’ve warned you, but really, they are all amazing.

This afternoon I pulled her hair into a bun and pinned it up, dusted eye shadow on her lids, applied a thin layer of mascara, and helped her use the only lipstick I own (her aunt is coming to the rescue with blush later – I guess I don’t have any).  I looked at her little face, the gap in her mouth where two of her baby teeth used to be, and watched her rehearse her dance.  She moved across the living room and she was truly mesmerizing.  She moved gracefully, sure of every step, and she had this huge, beautiful smile on her face, because she knows she’s got this.

I had to fight back tears, and I feel choked up writing about it now.  I remember when she was first learning to walk, toddling around with her chubby little legs and her bouncy curls.  I remember her very first recital, her little pink tutu and tights.  She still looked like a little girl then.  Now, she is starting to look more like a big girl, a young lady even.  And I think she’s perfect.

Over the next few years there are going to be more changes, more missing teeth, more dance recitals, more challenges to overcome, and more confidence, I hope.  There are bound to be some tough years, especially for the two of us.  Mothers and daughters, they all have a struggle somewhere in there, and as much as I dread that and hope it won’t be too bad, I know it’s normal and healthy for that relationship to grow and change, and growing pains are a part of that whole process.

I wonder if I was ever as confident as she is now, and I wonder what I can do, if anything, to help her hold on to it.

Adolescence is tough.  So tough.  Last night we went to dinner and somehow Jewel came up.  I haven’t heard a Jewel song in a long, long time.  Years, I think.

I listened to her when I was in my most awkward of awkward stages, of which there have been many.  My husband always says I write this blog like I am some kind of ugly duckling and the people who read it must picture some sort of deformed, cackling witch.  But truly, during those years, it was pretty rough.  I had terrible acne (bad enough to medicate), braces, horribly greasy hair and skin, dandruff, glasses that didn’t properly fit my face, and terrible body odor.  I was blessed to have one really close, wonderful best friend, and a few other friends who were just as awkward as I was.

We watched a lot of movies, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore 800 times, Empire Records at least 800 times, and a few others.  We also listened to a lot of music, most of it totally inappropriate.  Alanis Morisette was a favorite, and I think I still have that entire album memorized, Third Eye Blind was a regular, and when I was alone, all by myself, I would listen to Jewel.

I think maybe it was too sad to listen to with anyone else.  Also, some of the songs made me blush, and I was afraid that if anyone knew I listened to her songs about love, they would laugh hysterically at the idea that I would be interested in a song like that, because how could anyone love me the way she sang about?

Pretty dark and sad, I know, but it’s true.  I really doubted, in a very serious way, that anyone would ever love me.  I doubted a boy would ever want to sit next to me on the bus, let alone hold my hand or kiss me, or take me on a date, or break my heart.  That went on for a number of years, and even after time and experience taught me that there were plenty of boys who were, at the very least, plenty interested in breaking my heart, to some extent that feeling never completely went away.

Listening to “Near You Always” today, it was like I was right back in the bedroom I occupied during fifth, sixth, and seventh grade, wondering if I would ever even have the opportunity to feel those things.

Please don’t say I love you,
those words touch me much too deeply
and they make my core tremble
Don’t think you realize the effect you have over me
Please don’t look at me like that
It just makes me want to make you near me always
Please don’t kiss me so sweet
it makes me crave a thousand kisses to follow
And please don’t touch me like that
makes every other embrace seem pale and shallow
And please don’t come so close
it just makes me want to make you near me always
Please don’t bring me flowers
they only whisper the sweet things you’d say
Don’t try to understand me
your hands already know too much anyway
It just makes me want to make you near me always
And when you look in my eyes
please know my heart is in your hands
It’s nothing that I understand, but when in your arms
you have complete power over me
So be gentle if you please, ’cause
Your hands are in my hair, but my heart is in your teeth
And it makes me want to make you near me always
Your hands are in my hair, but my heart is in your teeth
And it makes me want to make you near me always
I want to be near you always

I hope and pray our daughters never feel that way.  I look at them, and I think there is no way they ever could.  They are perfect and lovely and I will make sure they know that every day.  I will find some way to keep them safe.  But I also know that I can’t control everything and logic and reality have little to do with some of those feelings, especially when they are fueled by whatever insane hormones course through our systems during our middle school years.

I’m trying to set a good example, trying to be a positive, good, confident person, even if I don’t always feel those things.  For the recital today I pulled out my black boots, a Christmas present last year, and I wore them with a short jumper (because here, people dress up for things like recitals – really dress up).  HW made a big deal about it and told me how beautiful he thinks I am, and I know he means it.  I know that he really believes I am beautiful, even if I don’t always feel that way.  I hope, over time, that sinks in, and the last layers of insecurity start to slip away.  I also know there is only so much he can do, because really the issue is about how I feel.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to feel seen and loved.


I do think I’m making progress, a little bit at a time, and I’m grateful for that.

Be kind, friends.







One thought on “Day 172: Dance Recitals and Jewel

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