Oh, imaginary friends! How I have missed you! Life has taken over in the last few weeks, as I know is prone to happen this time of year. Between holiday parties, finish up some last minute Christmas shopping, wrapping everything hidden all over my house, remembering who is supposed to bring what food for their holiday party on which day, and keeping up with the normal day-to-day on top of all of that…
The good news is that I pushed through really hard this weekend and I think I got most of my errands and holiday responsibilities taken care of. This week is my last week of school before a two-week break, and I am ready to enjoy some down time!
Gracie has really been in the center of all this holiday hoopla last week! We started the week out with her daycare Christmas concert. It was her first year in the concert, and she was so excited. Mostly, she was excited because her class was singing a “Frozen” song (naturally…) and so she got to wear an Elsa dress as her costume.
She was adorable and did such a good job! She sang her little heart out and didn’t miss a beat! I was so proud of her!
And then this past Saturday, she had her Christmas ballet recital. It was her first recital, too. Lots of firsts for Gracie last week. She got a little scared before going on stage, and I ended up staying backstage with her to keep her from crying. I watched her dance from the wings, and every now and then she would sneak a peek over at me and smile. It just melted my heart.
Gracie has taught me a lot about being a parent. Mostly, about patience. But she has also taught me a lot about pushing. I have a tendency to be a pusher. I’m a no-excuses kind of person, in parenting and beyond. But Gracie has taught me that not everyone works on my timetable. Not everyone follows my schedule or my rules. I was so excited about her recital. I never would have expected to put up with her crying about not wanting to go on stage. And, if I’m honest, my knee-jerk reaction would probably have been to just push her out there anyway.
But she looks at me with these giant, scared eyes, and I know that I am her security. It’s me. All me. When she feels scared, it’s me. When she is sick, it’s me. When she is sad, confused, angry, tired, hungry, or grouchy, it’s me. And, though one of the things I want to teach my children is to push on and not give up, there’s a time and a place for that.
Three years old in a Santa ballet costume with overwhelmed tears in her eyes is not that time. That’s the time for momma’s arms and momma’s comforting voice and momma’s hands holding hers.
And so, after a morning of rushing to get to the auditorium, get dressed, get her hair done, get her make up on, rush, rush, rush… Gracie slowed me down. She needed me to slow down. So, about fifteen minutes before the recital, with all the frantic teachers giving 10,000 directions backstage and so many ballerinas running here and there in a frenzy, Gracie and I walked right outside. Away from it all.
We walked around the building and talked about Christmas and school and the squirrels that were chasing each other in the parking lot. And when we had both calmed down a bit and she finally stopped crying, we took our time getting back with her class in the wings backstage. And with one final whispered promise that she could buy anything she wanted from the Dollar Store if she would go onstage and dance, Gracie walked right out with her class and danced like a tiny little star.
This time of year is a lot like being backstage at a ballet recital. Places to be, things to do, responsibilities, obligations, things moving at the speed of light. But sometimes, we need that little hand that squeezes ours to remind us to slow down and breathe.
I’m so thankful to Gracie for teaching me that lesson, especially this time of year.