Our lives have changed a lot this year. No one tells you about this dance when you become a parent. They will tell you that things will get better. Or things will get easier. Or things will finally click and you’ll find a rhythm together. Sometimes you feel this will never happen and you will step on toes for the next 18 years.
But they don’t tell you that things will just change. And flow. And move. And it’s okay to change partners(spend time with the child who needs you most) when a song ends.
My kids have always been fairly independent and responsible, but we’ve seen the biggest jump this year, and the biggest shift in this childhood dance.
A year where Astrid is in preschool more and has started her own activities. Her movements increase and we dance quickly together. This is tiring sometimes for an older mom because my 80s moves are no longer in fashion and sometimes I have to sit out a few dances to catch my breath.
A year where Esther is independently doing more complicated homework, dancing more on her own, and we will find her in a corner reading quietly for longer periods of time. Our most bubbly child seeks more quiet time and her dance has slowed as she reaches a more intellectual point in childhood.
A year where I now drop Eloise everywhere. There’s that time when you go in and wait during lessons and classes. And then that time when you walk her in and leave..but then come back and wait inside for her. And now you barely slow down the car enough for her to jump out to walk across the busy street on her own to her own lessons and friends. You give her $10 for a sandwich she will buy on her own down the block between classes and know she’ll be just fine. SHE CAN FEED HERSELF. AND WALK ACROSS THE STREET. She dances mainly alone.
And you come back when she calls. Sometimes you even make her wait because you’ve got other errands to run. And this thrills her because she can giggle with her friends just a little longer. She dances a lot without us now.
A year where I have a few hours to myself – for errands or writing or honestly just watching Ellen and drinking a cup of tea with a cat on my lap, and I don’t feel guilty at all when I do this. I’m comfortable sitting alone against the wall of the dance floor just waiting my turn.
A year where Jed learns how to communicate with all the women in his home just a little differently. Who is now big and is who is still little. Who likes snuggles and who wants a high-five..and the acceptance that he’ll probably never get it all correct. He waits until someone invites him to dance.
There’s a time in parenting – so early on that we feel it will never change because it’s just so much and so busy and so heavy. We dance in the quiet, dark living room at that midnight hour with a newborn in our arms, convinced we will never sit and rest again.
And then one day life just moves. Like a dancer turning again and again, we have a different view each year as our children’s needs change and our time changes for them.
And sometimes life moves so quickly that I am always a beat behind. But my kids have reached the age that they can tell me I need to catch up a little. Or when they are embarrassed by my dance steps that are no longer in fashion. I’m grateful for this.
For what my kids teach me daily.
For in this dance I am not the leader. They are.
I can only hold on for so long until they let go and turn and turn and turn across the floor as I watch in wonder. And when I finally realize that they don’t need my hand each time they turn, we both move smoothly across the floor.
This essay was inspired by the photographs I took of my daughters dancing and for the prompt ‘movement’ – the theme this week for Through The Lens Thursday – hosted by my friends Alison and Greta.