The Other Side of Motherhood

Veronica started ballet school this morning.

As with all new things, she was very nervous and shy in the beginning. We were the first ones to arrive and she sat solemnly on the bench while her teacher fitted her for ballet slippers. Vera wouldn’t utter a word, no matter how many questions her sweet instructor used to try to engage her, and it was all I could do to not crawl inside her head just to hear her nervous little thoughts.


Finally the other students began to arrive and the teacher led Veronica into the room. We had talked all about ballet school through the holidays and into the new year and I knew once she got in there, and once her one of her friends arrived, she would begin to open up, and she did. Juliette and I watched from behind the viewing window as Veronica sat in a circle with the other little ballerinas to stretch. Within minutes she had an expression of pure wonderment and happiness on her face.


As a mother, I continually find myself on the other side of everything. Over and over I seem to be standing where my own mother stood, and in those moments I can feel her flood through me. In flashes I revisit my own tap and ballet classes, the ones in which I so frivolously giggled at the bar with my friends while the other moms watched on. Doing it over again from this side is like getting to walk back into those memories all over, while simultaneously getting to step into my own mother’s shoes, an experience I never fail to relish.


Through all of this I just end up feeling my own mother’s love for me come swelling up around me all over again, and it is something I never expected to find again.



  • Posted January 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Tears. I think (and write) often about how I experience a kind of vertigo with my daughter, a telescoping of past and present and a blurring between my own self at 10 and her. But I don’t often think about how I’m also walking through the same years that my mother did. What a wonderful thing to ponder. xox

  • Chris
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I had a moment like that last night. My daughter had left to go back to school and I walked into her clean room (it’s usually full of clothes, books, etc.) and I had a flashback to the day after my wedding when it was time to say goodbye to my mom. I now understand that look of sadness that she had. Another beautiful and thoughtful post!!

  • Posted January 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I am impressed. That second photo shows such poise, concentration and observation of the teacher. Her expression shows her wonderment to be there. A great first lesson after the nervous start. Both my girls did both ballet and gymnastics for several years and simultaneously. I was the taxi driver, proud observer and sometime spot-man in gynastics.
    It was so good developing physical confidence and control and I’m sure a stepping stone to becoming my daughters becoming the confident young ladies they are. It grew ever more complex with inter-club competitions in gymnastics resulting in clocking up the miles and a cupboard full of trophies which of course, I still have, and complex and brilliantly stage-managed ballet concerts with the parents press-ganged into providing costumes of exacting detail. I thought I might escape the slave labor of constructing elaborate dresses for Swan Lake, until it was decreed by the academy director, she who must be obeyed, that the dresses would be fitted with strings of battery powered flashing lights. I have wired houses no problem, but I will never, ever electrify a ballet dress again. I must admit that when the lights were killed and the only lighting was the ‘swans’ dresses as they danced, two of whom were my daughters, it was magical.
    They both achieved great development and success at these lower levels of ballet/gymnastics competitions. They both realized the sacrifices required to progress to elite levels and quietly asked to move on to other things. I was quietly relieved. The important thing is the development of co-ordination and joy of movement. All else is folly.

  • Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Such beautiful words. As I hold and rock my seven-month-old baby son in the same rocking chair that my mother rocked me in, I begin to understand just how she felt holding me – so, so blessed.

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