On Monday nights, we had 37 minutes to run to a nearby fast-food place in between ballet classes. We had those nights down to a science after trial and error. Sometimes you and your sister couldn’t agree on a place, so rock paper scissors would make the final call. We lived such a busy life – and we loved that life. The other day you mentioned those Monday night dates. You said how you wish we could have another night like that, another night like “the way it used to be”. You said, “Mom, I would even pick the place I liked going the least, just to be able to go out again.” I heard every word in the way you said it.
Every year, the day and the week leading up to the recital was chaotic and crazy, I mean, so crazy. I was stressed about making sure I put the right shade of lipstick on you for the right performance and I was stressed about if your bun could last for both performances. I always loved the chaotic week of practices leading up to it because it felt so good to worry about dance. It distracted us from whatever else was going on. It gave us a chance to just focus on something we loved, something that gave us so much happiness.
This would’ve been your fifth year of the big recital weekend. This was always my absolute favorite weekend. I loved watching you and your sister be a part of the magic. I loved watching how somehow your instructors put together a ballet with hundreds of students from age 3-18. You all worked so hard all year for this day and every time I watched it, it took my breath away.
This year, that Saturday came and it went. It was quiet. And I cried. In March, when I realized what was about to happen in our world, I told myself I would not cry over a ballet recital. That is a luxury and a privilege. I had cried tears over fear. I had cried tears over how many children must be hungry and how many patients were dying without loved ones by their side. I was not about to cry over dance – but on Saturday, I did. And when I did, I realized it really wasn’t just about dance.
My tears were sadness that suddenly mid-March became mid-May and I did not expect for time to go so fast and yet so slow. I cried that you and your sister had been talking about this day since last year’s recital, and how I never even thought about this scenario. (I worry about absolutely everything and anything, as you already know, but I never thought to worry about a pandemic.) We always assumed the big events would still be there. I cried because I don’t remember the last time you got to see your friends in real life and then I cried because how can I be sad about that when other moms are worried about how they will feed their children. I cried because your sister did not get to finish the basketball season she loves so much and that she never got to share with her class that she finally lost her tooth. I cried because my mom friends have seniors who lost moments they had waited forever for. I cried for my self-employed friends whose businesses will not survive this. This was no longer just about dance. Once the tears fell, they would not stop. I realized it was not even the big days I missed the most, it was all of those days in between. I missed our Mondays.
I missed our dance nights and frantically digging through my front seat to find the missing ballet shoes that inevitably always found its way out of the bag. I missed our nightly discussions about what happened at school and what you were excited about tomorrow. I missed our evenings at youth group and our weekend play dates with our best friends. I missed our conversations about how excited we were to take your baby brother to the pool this summer. You were finally going to be tall enough for the big water slide. There will be no summer junior golf or trip to Disney this fall. Until now, I had not realized how we had quit talking about future plans. Either you are too scared to ask, or you have realized that I do not have the answers.
I still do not have answers about ‘when’, but I do know we will live our lives differently after this. I know once our Monday nights resume, we are not going to take for granted the luxury of eating out. I know that for the rest of my life when I go grocery shopping, I’m going to pick up extra items for those in our community who need it most. (I hope you’ll always do the same.) We tried to help before, but now I see I could have done more. I know that the first time you step foot in that dance studio, you are going to look at it as you “get to be there”, not that you “have to be there.” I know that when we someday get our summer day at the pool, we are going to love every second of the sun on our faces while we talk about how chubby your little brother looks in his swim trunks.
I know that when we see our friends for the first time, we are going to hug them like we mean it. A hug will no longer be a communicative gesture out of habit and obligation, it’s going to mean “I have missed you and I love you.” I know that when you return to school, you will love every second of learning from your teacher and recesses with your friends. While we cannot wait to have this all behind us, there are pieces of it that I hope we carry with us. I hope we do not forget the creativity and ingenuity of those who kept us going. I hope we remember to appreciate those who proudly did the jobs that put them in harm’s way. I hope we never forget how much light came out of so much darkness.
Our big Saturday came and went and we learned from it. I am so proud of how hard you worked for it, even though you didn’t get to see it through (at least not yet.) I hope that you never stop dreaming and working for it, even if the ‘recital Saturdays’ of your life don’t turn out the way you planned. And my sweet girl, I hope that when our Mondays return, we take the pieces of now with us to the someday, and never forget what we learned. It was never about the big days.