Dance like everyone’s watching and you don’t care.
Yep, that’s our baby girl right there.
It’s dance season!
(You’ll probably only relate to that sentence if you have a son or daughter who takes dance classes and/or competes.)
Hannah, my step-daughter, is currently in recital/competition season. She is such an absolute joy to watch and I admit, I’m that nutty parent that tries to out-WOO-HOO all other audience members. You can pretty much count on hearing my embarrassing loud cheers at the end of every video Brian takes of Hannah’s dances.
Last weekend, as we watched Hannah dance – confident and in control – Brian posted later on Facebook about how shy she first was years ago when her dancing days began. I remember that. But it also reminded me of something else, and I have sat thinking about it a lot the last few days.
When Hannah first started dancing – or even had school holiday programs, etc. – she was extremely shy. Brian and I were still only dating for the first few performances, and I remember him calling me while I was in Chicago and telling me how she either had a total melt-down or just stood on stage with her mouth hanging open, calling out for her mom. Totally normal for little ones – especially when the stage, in any capacity, is such a new thing.
Cut to a few performances later. I honestly can’t remember if it was a dance recital or a Christmas program, but I was able to attend and I was sitting next to Hannah’s mom. We watched as she performed her little heart out and didn’t get scared or shy! It was so wonderful to watch her shine in her own confidence and we were all thrilled!
After the performance, Hannah came running over. We were all cheering! She gave a big high-five and a hug to her dad and then weeded down the aisle coming toward me. I was so excited for her, I outstretched my arms waiting for her to jump into them. She smiled huge at me and then lunged forward – right into the arms of her mom.
I was so mortified. Not by Hannah, of course! But by myself. What was I thinking?! I was so embarrassed… I wasn’t thinking… Of course, she would go straight to her mom. I was almost ashamed of myself for forgetting her mom was even next to me! Also, who did I think I was?! Brian and I weren’t even engaged at the time and I was pretty new here. I think back to that moment and I still cringe a little.
But then… this happened: As I was sitting there, staring straight ahead trying to pretend I didn’t pull the obnoxious outstretched arm move in front of everyone, out of the corner of my eye, I could see A, Hannah’s mom, whispering in her ear. Hannah nodded, hugged A again and then turned around and gave me a big, warm hug.
I don’t know exactly what A said to her, but I know she in some way asked her to acknowledge me – to give me a hug or a “thank you.” And that silent moment – which A and I have never brought up – meant the world to me. It sounds so little, but when you are on the outside looking in – and often feel like a third wheel, especially at the very beginning of a blended family or co-parenting situation, it meant so much.
It also made me feel a little less moronic. And I think A knew that and was trying to help a sister out. 🙂
The bottom line is: small moments are sometimes just as important as big moments in this step-parenting gig. Small acts of kindness between all parents involved can make big strides – whether in front of the kid(s) or not. I know it can be hard – and definitely harder for some than others (and virtually impossible if not everyone is on board) – and trust me, it is not always going to be perfect. There will be happy moments, angry moments, jealous moments, resentful moments… and then happy moments again. But that’s life, right? Not just for the blended family world. Us co-parents just get a bonus obstacle course thrown in every so often….(or very often).
Just think how much more savvy and experienced in life that makes you!
(^That was such a lemon/lemonade moment. I apologize. Optimism can be so annoying sometimes, right?)
Recently, I was talking to Hannah’s mom and she said, “You know, we plan on being there for everything of Ivy’s… every recital, school play.” It actually brought me to tears. She was talking about her family … her mom and dad (Ivy’s honorary grandparents). All of my family is hours away in another state and likely won’t make much of Ivy’s activities, and to have her casually say that – as if it was a no-brainer to her – meant everything to me and also made me feel so much less alone here. They have all made it a point to consider Ivy as family to them, because Ivy is family to Hannah. And I am so humbled and grateful for that.
Listen, I know this is not the norm. And, trust me, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies 24/7. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be grateful.
And, all this said, with regard to step-parenting: I have major failures. I can always do better. And try harder. And learn from my mistakes. And know that I will make a TON more mistakes. We all will. But, if possible, I’d like to do it knowing I’m part of a team here. And I’ve learned that if you enter this arena knowing you’re just one part of a team-effort, you will be less likely to single-handedly break up the band.
And I definitely have no intention of Yoko-Ono’ing this co-parenting gig.