As I mentioned in my previous post, there were a couple of pivotal mothering moments attached to the dance recital for me. Allow me to elaborate.
When planning for the recital, I knew that I would have to leave Sophia backstage with her class while I waited in the audience. However, what I envisioned was walking her into the backstage area and putting her little hand directly into the hand of someone I knew, either her teacher or a parent helper. What happened was that I walked around the side of Jesse Hall to the "Performer's Entrance" and handed her through the door to a couple of young teen helpers who assured Sophia and me "I'll take her to her group" as I shouted after them, "Sophia Creach!" since they hadn't asked her name. I guess her costume was enough to tip them off. So I walked away alone. Around the building and into the "Public Entrance." Teary. Wondering to myself if she was old enough. If I had somehow pressured her into doing this. If those girls were responsible. If she was the first one there. Just wondering.
Then we sat waiting inside the theatre. That's when her teacher came out and I had a funny gut feeling that Sophia was having trouble. If I had seen a trickle of smoke from under the curtain, I would have known without a doubt that it was my little burn victim. As it was, I let them look for me while I lived in a moment of denial. That's when I faced the bigger mothering conundrum. I could have gone backstage right then. Comforted her and held her. She would have felt better. I would have felt better. Useful, even. As it was, I told Hallie that it was best if I didn't go back there, as long as Hallie could comfort her. I told Hallie that if I went back there, Sophia wouldn't dance. I'm still sure that's the case, but it was hard to admit. A very bitter pill. As I went to sit down, it took everything I had not to sprint the other direction. Then came more wondering. Was I being a selfish dancer's mom? Making her do something while she was afraid? Would they really tell me if she couldn't calm down? Did I just hear a whimper from backstage? Is that someone coming for me? Does she feel safe?
I feel like I've said this with every post I've ever done on parenting, but here it comes again. Sophia is a unique child, just as I'm a unique mother. So I don't think my decision was universally the right one. For her and for me? The right one. We both needed to do this on our own. She's only three, but she is strong and independent. If she can feel that at this early, early, early (sorry, my feelings there) stage, then she will only grow in confidence and strength in her own power. I know that she's confident in my power and in my love for her. I think if that's what she needed to feel, I would have gone to her. Afterwards, she never questioned why I didn't come. She only talked about the things Miss Hallie had told her about the smoke. And that she felt better. I love that she was able to be comforted by someone else in that moment. I love it as much as I hate it.
My mother arms got their moment a few songs later when she was sitting in the audience after her dance. The smoke machine came on. I saw her begin to panic and made my way closer. Then she ran to me and I got to squeeze her as tightly and comfort her as much as I wanted. It felt good.
We both reached a milestone that night.