"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."
I am not a parent, but I can imagine the burden of responsibility, concern, and even guilt that comes along with parenthood. My mother, for example, will forever bear the guilt knowing that she didn’t put me in tap dancing lessons as a child. It will be my lifelong sorrow, and one I never let her forget, that I’m not shuffle-ball-changing my way through “Tea for Two and Two for Tea” on some grand stage.
As a child, I sat on our living room floor, 6 inches from the television as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire clicked their way through “Cheek to Cheek” in one of my all time favorites, Top Hat. I scrubbed black scuffmarks off the linoleum kitchen floor after I performed a musical number in my Sunday school shoes, the only ones that made a tap sound with the heel. To this day, my mother rolls her eyes and lowers her head in defeat when I casually mention my “dream that got away.”
I fear however, that I can no longer blame it on her. Today as I interviewed and auditioned for a ballet school piano accompanist, I observed one of the advanced classes. Although I tried to stay focused on what the current accompanist played, the tempo, the number of bars, etc, I was soon entranced by the dancers. Such a whimsical, fairy-tale like, and elegant scene. Slender ballerinas with fluid lines and pointed toes, dressed in tights and flowing chiffon skirts filled the large mirrored room and in unison, gracefully moved to the music. It was truly a beautiful picture and I marveled at their poise and strength.
Only minutes into the first exercise, I noticed one of the ballerinas and couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was petite in size, performing all the movements with as much focus and beauty as the other dancers, but she was the only grandmother, maybe even great-grandmother, in the room. Her short gray and white hair was pinned up at the sides. She wore the fine lines in her face as sophisticatedly and confidently as her white leggings and point shoes. I was truly amazed when I learned later that she was in her mid-80s.
What a shame when we talk ourselves into believing that a chance has passed us by. That it’s too late. That there is no point in trying something new or different. How blessed to have a reminder like today that unordinary things are achievable. And how lucky for my mother to finally be relieved of her guilt, for fulfilling my dreams is all on me now.