Last Saturday morning, I waited in a crowded Chicago Park District auditorium. My oldest daughter rested her head on my lap. I vigorously fanned her face with a white and pink colored program. A silhouette of a ballerina danced across the program’s page.
The air was thick. It was the kind of day when your shirt drenches simply from sitting. A drum beat kept time somewhere deep within my head. I was worried about our youngest daughter, the latest victim of the nasty flu that recently rushed through our little family. She was at home with my husband sipping water and watching Signing Time videos.
I thought about all the other things I could have been doing on a Saturday morning.
But it’s a performance. Your kid signs up for an eight week class at the park district. At the end of the class there is a show. You go. That’s what you do even if it is stifling hot in the beginning of June. You go begrudgingly, stand in line way too long, fight other doting parents for aisle seats and worry that your daughter will be the only one in pink ballet shoes instead of white. You think about how you drove around Chicago to buy those pink shoes before the instructor decided to change the costumes, again. Black ballet shoes are now tucked into a gray shoe box and placed up high in the closet at home. Maybe, hopefully, they will be useful for a future child or a future class.
So there I was armed with the digital camera, the video camera, two cold bottles of water, gum, and a pen for when the child sitting with me got utterly tired of waiting for the show to start. I was angry that I caved to the pressure of busyness and being seen as a good mother, making sure that my kids had their fill of the extra-curricular like everyone else they knew.
I guess you could say I had a bad attitude.
And then the music started. The room cooled. My daughter sitting next to me quieted down, mesmerized by sight and sound.
What is it about a four year old in a tutu?
There were these little children, dressed up, hair slicked to the side, tapping their feet to a famous love song and it took all my power not to break down and sob. Looking around, my eyes mirrored other parents. We all watched with tenderness and awe and pride as these little people twirled around the stage on a hot Saturday morning, many going the wrong way, forgetting what comes next, stopping altogether just to wave to grandma.
My mouth had turned downward when I read that my daughter’s group performed second to last. But, really, it was an hour and a half well spent. I laughed out loud and clapped along with the beat. I didn’t even know these children and my mascara was running down my face.
Life happens so quickly.
Thankfully, once in a while I am caused to stop and appreciate something simple like a class of three and four year olds dancing to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up.
There is no place else I would have rather been.
This post was originally at Chicago Moms Blog in 2009.