Sunday, August 1, 2010
The gap widens
The end of this week was the end of an era, really. Even though I was only a part of this era for the last 2 years, 6 young dancers from the studio I teach at, graduated and said goodbye to their teachers, their younger dance friends and years and years of sweat and hard work. These 6 dancers inspired me when I first came to this dance studio. They inspired me to be a better teacher and they inspired me to try as best I could to pass on what I love most about ballet. What some see as a boring art form, I see as grace, beauty, story telling and enviable athleticism. I hoped that I could teach them the value and beauty in ballet, and I am most proud to say that I seem to have done that for them. We celebrated the end of the dance year with shared memories, laughter, some tears (mostly my own- thank you baby hormones), a really tasty Dulce De Leche cake that I bought for the girls and a recital.
It is such a gift to get to be a part of a young dancers life and have influence in a positive way. I didn't have any girls of my own, so it seems so appropriate that instead, I have a studio full of girls with whom I can choose tutus for (thank you yearly recital costumes!), talk about dance with, get my fill of giggles...and tears with, and pass down little moments of wisdom to (you know- those girly things that you wish someone else would have told you before you made the mistake on your own.) It was a very full week. And I mean full in the emotional sense. I also brought my littlest one, Elijah to the dance studio this week. It was a babysitting snafu, but ultimately it ended up being pretty fun. The ballet girls loved seeing Eli and had a line going of who could hold him next. Young girls are so scarily observant too. One young girl said, "One of his eyes is bigger than the other one." I had been questioning this myself for the past week or so, wondering if what I saw was true or if it was just because he has a clogged tear duct still in his right eye, and thus isn't opening it as much? I also had questions like, "Does he still have Down syndrome?" :) There is no judgment, no bias or prejudice in their questions and observations- they are all just observing and curious and sweet. (This was with my group of 7-10 year olds.)
I'm starting to see the gap widening between Elijah and other typically developing babies his age. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have had a baby within a couple of weeks of Elijah. I recently saw a picture of an acquaintance's cutie, just one week older, sitting up in a Bumbo seat with a giant grin on his face. It was adorable and yet I was immediately hit with...Wow. Elijah is nowhere near doing that yet. Then yesterday at the recital, I saw the sister and niece of one of my dancers. The baby is 4 weeks old and I thought, Wow. Elijah has just stopped looking like that. And I had a twinge. A twinge because when I looked at this super-young, first-time Mother, I slightly... just slightly, envied her innocence. Her world hasn't been rocked the same way mine has. I rarely think like that and it struck me when the thought passed. Even though she hasn't yet lived through the same kinds of worries I have (in her 20 years of life), I still hold true to being a better Mother and being better prepared to handle what life throws me now (in my advanced maternal age)...way, way, way more than when I was 20 years old. I remind myself constantly not to compare, but it is impossible not to notice..thus, compare, other babies to Elijah. One of the new friends I've made through the Ds support/play group I attend, shared with me that she thought the comparing was the hard part. She said that she'd had a friend whose baby was 6 months younger and they would lay them on a blanket next to each other and remark how alike they were, and then even that baby 6 months younger began to surpass her daughter's milestones. It's easy to say it won't affect you, but every once in awhile it really does. It's mostly an adjustment. What is true is that our babies grow up fast. Everyone told me that when Christian was born and I didn't know how true it was until I blinked my eyes one day and he was three and sassing me back, telling me that he didn't break the chair, his stuffed animals did it. "The animals did it, Mommy. The animals did it." They grow up fast, and then they graduate from a dance studio where they've danced most of their life. So...I'm looking at it like this: Maybe I just get to enjoy my baby a teeny tiny bit longer than most people do...