I don’t like being a “dance mom”. Two nights a week I haul the girl into town and pass time sitting on a cement floor while people I pay pretend to teach her to dance. Dance is just another version of those horrifying child beauty pageants. It’s all about outfits, costumes, hair and make up. Dance is incidental.
The ancillary stuff dominates. At the beginning of the year, the moms anguished over the ballet uniform: hair up in bun, black leotard, pink ballet shoes and ballet pink tights (yeah, it’s its own colour). Some of the girls weren’t dressed out properly and moms who’d been lectured on their own daughter’s dress code violations were stewing none too silently over what they saw as preferential treatment.
I’ll cop to being one of the privileged moms. Dee’s dance instructor doesn’t approach me with complaints on the odd day that I don’t get Dee’s hair into a bun, but that has more to do with my “who fucking cares” demeanor and the fact that I am 46 and the teacher is just 18 than anything else.
“Why do you care what a teenager thinks about whether or not your child arrives properly dressed every time?” I asked. “Sometimes life gets in the way. The laundry didn’t get done or we didn’t have time to put hair up. It happens. No high schooler is going to lecture me on parenting.”
Unsurprisingly, none of the other moms had a response to that.
The current crisis concerns the costumes for the girls’ ballet festival performance. Festivals are weekend time sucks where dance schools gather and compete for bragging rights. I will miss both festivals this spring due to conflicts – yoga training weekends – thus saddling Rob with “dance mom” duty. He has been quite Dalai Lama about it.
Harry Potter inspired the choreography and it’s cute really. After 4 years of ballet, it finally appears as though Dee is actually dancing, but the costume is a mish-mash and two of the mothers aren’t pleased with the full effect. Every dance night there is a discussion about what can be done about the unacceptable costume. The poor little dance teacher keeps to the fringes because she’s afraid of simply scrapping and starting over – money has been spent and clothing purchased so far is non-returnable. She’s only 18, as I mentioned earlier, so I understand her reticence, but I am tired of the angst.
Who the fuck cares? It’s a stupid costume in a dumb festival that even a year from now, let along a hundred, won’t matter one bit.
But okay, I am not a girly, dancey, overly invested in my daughter’s hobbies kind of parent. It’s fine if you are, we all find our parenting level and rise or sink. I’ve, obviously, chosen the lower levels to dwell in, but I don’t aspire to motherhood as some kind of personal nirvana.
Against my will, I volunteered a few suggestions last evening when the discussion began to veer off into territory that might involve more personal involvement on my part. Interestingly, they were not dismissed out of hand.
More interesting, to me, was the jealous twinge I had a bit later as I sat and listened to one of the moms discussing the purchase of their new home.
In the newer suburban tract of The Fort, there is an attempt at upscale, executive type, homes. They bottom at about $500,000-ish, but keep in mind that housing prices in this neck of Alberta are stupid. Case in point, my home in Iowa – 1400 sq ft with sizable yard on a cul-de-sac sold for $163,900 at the beginning of the housing bubble burst. That same house here? Probably $350,000. People here pay, without a second thought, for slapped together shite on postage stamp lots in neighbors so choked with trucks, SUV’s and holiday trailers that parking is a nightmare in the residential areas. I will give Canadians this one kudo – they are fanatics about green spaces, bike/walking paths and parks, but neighborhoods might as well be tenements given the lack of space between houses.
The new home owner’s daughters are friends with Dee and the mom waxed on about the new home’s spaciousness – the exec housing is on three-quarter acre lots and have stupid amounts of square footage in addition to all the other superficial things like the upgraded flooring, counters, bath accessories and three/four car garages.
I don’t have counter top envy. Granite? Whatever. I do have space envy.
I’ve mentioned previously, and on numerous occasions, that in my last house I had very little furniture. I fought against the accumulation of it. My mother and MIL couldn’t grasp not wanting a living room set. But I have always preferred sitting on the floor and in fact, sitting on the floor is anatomically better for a person in the long run. There was so much space. Sometimes I would sit on the top of the landing and just bask in the openness.
As she talked about space and de-cluttering, as she is in the midst of packing, I felt jealous.
My practical side, for which I can thank my Depression-era born father and my brush with bankruptcy during Will’s illness, can’t fathom buying a home in Fort Saskatchewan of all places for $630,000 when the house I live in is paid for. Especially at my age in these economically dangerous times and with my level of paranoia about “what ifs”.
Still – space – the temptation.
Must think more yogically – detach!
UB mentioned the Buddhist (and its yoga premise too) idea that attachment is at the root of what we term “unhappiness”. Our inability to accept the impermanence that is all things in life holds us fast. Attachment roots and not in a good way. I have struggled with the idea but not the practice ironically.
Occasionally I comment on widow blogs. It’s not smart because I am far removed from common grief-think. Someone wrote about how being in a new relationship does not make things better and I disagreed. Falling in love with Rob and marrying again did make things better. I shouldn’t have said so out-loud because it’s heresy wide-open for misinterpretation, but I weary of the doom and gloom about the future after loss. I was “attached”, if you want to put it that way, to Will but I never believed that our marriage was anything other than time and place. We were destined to have a time and a place together that at some point one of us would leave. Everyone dies eventually. The idea that we have more than just brief moments together here and there over the course of existence is not something I question.
Sadness can balance happiness over the course of a mortal existence or one can swamp the other. I think we know going in what the general outline will be and it’s when we stomp our feet against it that life is harder than it would have been if we’d merely viewed it as transitory.
Marrying again didn’t make the fact that Will died better, it made me better. It re-grounded me, gave me an outlet for love again and bolstered my faith (I won’t say “rewarded it” because I don’t really believe in the whole reward/punishment model of existence). I think if one denies the benefits of moving on – however it manifests – it ‘s just resistance to the reality that life is impermanent and that should be re-examined for one’s own sake.
But, it’s probably just me.