i’ve never been much of a dancer.
the words ‘look at that little white girl try to shake-her-thaaaang’ are ones i will never forget. eh-hem. but. but. stop for a second, because in my defense miss-mad-hip-polynesian-dancer-woman--i dare you to try to find another white girl on that dance floor that could pick-up the mad game i was throwing down that night (sidenote: this was years ago. when i actually used to go to dances and parties and such).
i mean, come on. puuuuhlease.
however, even with my desire to be the graceful dancer...the one who is muscularly-toned-in-every-possible-direction and can can move like a mixed breed of beyonce’s hips and the sex appeal of patrick swayze and jennifer grey. the truth is--i’m just not.
i am just a little white girl attempting to shake her ‘thang’.
however, when i was little--i would have never known i was bad. nope. never.
for all i knew, i was the most gifted six-year-old dancer the world had ever know. in my mind, i was going places in the world of point shoes and tutus.
no, i was not delusional. i don’t think.
no, i was not in denial. that i know of.
the reason for my overload of confidence and zest for rhythm that i simply didn’t have, was my world-class mother.
and when i say ‘world class’ i am not just saying that. because my mom is actually in the top ranking of all mothers on this planet. past and present.
let me paint a picture for you. of the type of woman she is.
back to the topic of my dancing career.
when i was in kindergarten, i wanted to be a ballerina. my neighbor catherine was one. and she was just about the most beautiful girl in the world. at least in my eyes.
i’d watch her spin. twirl. wrap her hair back in perfectly slick buns. she had long legs and a swan-like grace about her.
yes, that was my dream.
and one day i decided i didn’t just only want to be a ballerina. i wanted to be in the california ballet company’s production of the nutcracker for that upcoming season.
i mean, we’re looking at a girl with very little--if any--dance/ballet experience. suddenly wanting to join a very prestigious group of performers.
now, a lot of parents might kindly and affectionately encourage their child not to reach for such extreme and seemingly impossible goals. they might get them in lessons and find them a more moderate performing group to begin with.
others may laugh in good humor. tease. banter.
all good things. i enjoy some good old’ fashion sarcasm.
but my mom. she’s different. she took that dream of mine. and made it happen.
i soon found myself in the backroom before auditions. i started thinking about what was happening. actually letting it absorb. letting everything around me sink in--the sounds, smells, people, everything.
it was then that it hit me.
the fear. the panic. the realization that i know next to nothing about ballet or the nutracker or anything of that category. my extent of dancing experience was a couple months of tap dancing and a few-weeks-max of learning how to point my toes behind the girl with the dried up skin peeling off her back.
seriously--i’ll never forget that little gal’s back. must of had some sort of skin disorder or something but her skin was always peeling off. like it had been sun-burnt or something. i spent the majority of class thinking about how i wish i could pull it off for her. and whatever time remained trying to figure out what a 'plie' was.
whoa. anyhow. back to the story.
at this point, i pretty much tore off my dance slippers and began sprinting for the door.
okay, not really.
but i was about to--when my mom asked me very sweetly if i was ready? i shook my head nervously. and she could see the self-doubt in my eyes.
keen, she said her most calming, loving of voices. you just go out there, with your biggest smile and show them who you are.
she made it seem so much less dramatic. so much more simple. she's always been good at that.
feeling a renewed sense of confidence, i turned the corner with attitude and disappeared around the curtain. you better believe i did my thaaaaang. with probably the largest-known-smile-on-record spread across my face.
call it luck. call it charm. call it stupid. but three months later i found myself jumping out from under mother ginger’s massive skirt (who was actually a man coated in ridiculous amounts of make-up with hairy legs) and dancing around with eight other little taffy-girls and plastic gingerbread men in front of thousands and thousands of people.
yeah. sure thing, i was in the nutcracker. and yes, i was the smallest. i was the least experienced. i was probably the worst one out there.
but you better believe that i made my dream come true.
and the truth of the matter is, i would have bailed on that dream if it hadn’t been for that loving, encouraging, confidence-instilling mother of mine.
oh-how-i-could-go-on about all the things my mother has done. i could tell story after story of my mother supporting and encouraging her children. making us believe that we truly were the best at anything we did. making sure that we had every possible experience that we could have.
and honestly, i don’t know if i’ll ever be able to truly-completely thank her for that.
but today, i want to try.
because it is her birthday (yes, happy birthday shell-bell).
and a big thank you is in order.
a thank you, because you have raised three girls that are all-so-completely-different and all so strong in many similar ways. and a son who is one of the most respectable little dudes that i know.
a thank you. because i rarely walk into any unknown, frightening situation with self-doubt. i walk in with confidence. with a head and standards that are kept high.
a thank you. because your kids have good, smart, kick-ass heads on their shoulders.
a thank you. because we know how to make fun of ourselves. we know how to laugh. and we know how to love.
a thank you, mom.
because never would we have received such love if it weren’t for you.
in any situation. if i ever let insecurities start eating away at me. if i ever let doubt start creeping in. i remember your loving words.
just go in there...with the biggest smile on your face, and show them who you are.
happy birthday shell-bell.
we love you.
p.s. i'm in need of some new reads. any suggestions?