I’ve often thought that my name was left off THE mailing list. It’s the list that sends out information to every other person apparently telling them the basic rundown of what they need to know before participating in an event or activity. It seems that when I try something new in my life for myself or in many cases, for my daughter, I feel lost in the process of beginning. I feel like the only one in the room that didn’t see the whole picture or understand what all was required….like I was the only one who didn’t get the instruction manual with the new machine.
Just a few weeks ago, I was feeling quite inept toward the apparent knowledge I unknowingly needed prior to signing my daughter up for a little toddler dance camp. In the spring, I filled out the registration form. That was easy. Name of child, name of parent, age of child, phone number…..these were simple questions. I knew the answers. I paid the registration fee, found out the times, and asked a few questions related to location and parent involvement. The irony is that I felt as though I was informed and had the information I needed. This is a dance camp for 3 year olds….there will be lots of giggling and potty breaks in between shimmies and spins. How much does one really need to know? Initially, I was excited to have discovered a camp that was geared toward younger kids. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was well on my way to Mom of the Year.
I walked away from the conversation with the dance company receptionist feeling like a million bucks. Like a peacock boasting her plumage, I strutted to my car. I am AWESOME. I am signing my daughter up for an extra-curricular activity in the arts. She will have movement and ample opportunity for imagination and peer engagement. I am OUTSTANDING. I’ve enrolled her in something that will be memorable, fun, and silly. I will buy her a little pink leotard and get my phone ready to record. I will receive mommy gold stars for my role in all of this.
But, wait…not so fast. Nope. Apparently, I knew nothing. Weeks after the glorious registration moment, I spent time looking for what my Emme needed for the class. My knowledge of dance related things is non-existent. Through this process, I learned many things by default. It turns out that there are specific colors & styles of ballet slippers. Tap shoes run small. It is almost impossible to find a leotard for my petite little dancer. Pink tights are in high demand….think black market in dark alleys. Some leotards come with skirts. Others are sewn into the onesie. Never refer to a leotard as a onesie. These are things I recently learned.
I reached out to a few mothers who had gone through the briar patch that is DANCE. They were beyond helpful. I found out a wealth of information. These women seemed so confident in their answers. They knew where to go, what to do, how to do it. They knew not to call a leotard a onesie. They were my dance Yodas. They did not need answers. They WERE the answers. They were apparently on THE mailing list. They got the memo. They knew what was coming. That was my perception. I felt awkard, confused, and a bit overwhelmed at all the things I did not know and about all the people that I felt knew so much more than me.
It’s not just about dance. Of course it is not. I started digging deeper into myself with this matter.
I rarely feel like I am the expert in the room on any given matter. I lack confidence. I am devoid of the specifics on an abundance of topics. I give in to the belief that I am less of a person based on the things I don’t know or I punish myself for the things I think I should have known. I have also bought into the big, fat lie that no one wonders the things I wonder. No one gets confused or frustrated with the things that I do. I have found that I struggle on a grand scale with applying a measure of grace to my own life. Those dance moms that gave me advice on where to go to get what I needed and shared with me what to expect – well, some of them were experts because they had done it BEFORE me, not because they already knew everything. Others, honestly, had a better sense of the game. They were better at researching and asked more relevant questions during their time of preparation.
Either way, I was not left off of some “list.” I did not get skipped when “manuals” were given out. I happened to find myself in the deep end of a pool in which I needed floaties. There is no shame in that. I would have loved to have jumped off the diving board into this new adventure I arranged for my daughter. But, I have to stop beating myself up over not being amazing and head of the class. Grace. I give it freely to everyone I come in contact with like water flowing from a fountain. When it comes to myself as an individual, I allow dehydration to settle in. I sat down and spent a few minutes talking the Lord. I was frustrated with myself and my constant battle with comparison….with my willingness to succumb to the lie that I am less of a mother, a wife, a teacher, a friend because I did not sink a hole-in-one on a situation.
The truth of the matter is this – the victory is not in knowing all the logistics of dance. The victory is in the willingness to participate in it. Ignorance can be thought of as an ugly word. Simply put, however, it is the absence of knowledge. If I am ignorant about what it takes to enroll my daughter in dance, that can be rectified. The process may not be pretty, but now, I know so much more about dance than ever before. If someone happens to ask where the most affordable dance clothing store is, I can tell them. If they want to know if there are consignment places that carry wide ballet shoes, I know that answer as well. I must hold my head up high and tell myself that as a mother…as a person…I am a constant learner. I am not of a lesser value because I don’t know as much as someone to my left or right. Though I am certain I will have to revisit this idea of personal grace and the admission of ignorance, today I will smile knowing that my little ballerina was fully equipped for her toddler dance camp. And, as I smile looking at her, I also smile knowing the Lord used this process to teach me a bit more about finding joy in who I am and what my capabilities are and can be each and every day.
Farrell Boone is a native Texan who has been living the Nashville, TN life with her husband, Rob, for the past 8 years. She is mommy to the outspoken, beautiful, sassy, and hilarious 3 year old known as Emme. Farrell is an educator, writer, terrible house cleaner, football watcher, sweet tea drinker, and an overall sensitive soul. You can connect with Farrell via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Farrell Boone or read more of her writing on her blog.