December 11, 2009

Nine

gabybeach091a

I can hardly look at this picture without getting tears in my eyes because she looks “older” to me all of a sudden. When I think about who she is, I think, “mature, brave, kind, artistic, hard-working, helpful, complex, smart and happy”…I can also use these adjectives…too scheduled and tired for my liking. Here is what I am learning though, as she gets older, my liking, is not always the way it should be.

When I was nine years old I didn’t have the same type of responsibilities she does. I didn’t have an hour of homework each night (actually I don’t think I had homework other than the token two book reports written by “researching” the first 3 paragraphs of the World Book Encyclopedia twice a year). I didn’t have a “passion” to speak of. I wasn’t involved in any after school activities because I was in a day care center until 6:00pm. Once my mom picked my brother and me up from daycare, we went home, ate our square meal of protein, starch, vegetable, and went to bed. Weekends were reserved for either my Mom or my Dad’s schedule…we did what they did. It was a wonderful and fairly simple existence for a kid. I was happy.

Before I had kids I promised myself that I would NEVER over schedule them, that I would keep it simple, and that family time should ALWAYS come first. I believed we should eat dinner as a family every night and that we should have an ample amount of down time. Although these are still my primary goals when making decisions for our family, I never accounted (in my infinite wisdom before having children) for this…. Some children have a driving passion. Some can handle more activities than you can. Some kids think they know what they want to be when they grow up at 5 years old. When you have a child like this, sometimes, your game plan needs to change, despite all good intentions.

At three years old, my now nine year old daughter saw Riverdance on PBS and was smitten. From that time on, she begged to Irish Dance. When she was six, I finally gave into her pleas never realizing that this Irish Dance thing would greatly impact our lives and many of our future family plans.

Before I continue here, let me just say…in bold…MOST of the time, this a wonderful thing for our family. The opportunities, life lessons, and experiences add a level of “extraordinary” I couldn’t have understood pre-kids.

It is an interesting dichotomy trying to balance a daughter who is passionate about something beyond explanation and tending to the rest family’s needs and philosophy. For the last 3 years she has been very passionate about Irish Dance. Her feet are in constant “Irish” mode. When you watch her, it is hard not to hear the music she is apparently hearing in her head at all times because her feet are never just walking or standing still, they are leaping, jigging, or drilling her steps CONSTANTLY. If her body is upright, she is dancing. In my head I am constantly balancing thoughts of “this is too much” and “for goodness sake lady, get out of her dagome’ way so she can do what she needs to do”.

She is a beautiful dancer but here is the reality, to do what she does, it takes HOURS….HOURS and HOURS and HOURS. She competes at local, regional, and national competitions which requires travel and sacrifice. She also performs locally for nursing and retirement homes as well as several Irish Festivals each year. The future outcome of all this work could be that one day she may dance professionally, either by teaching or touring or, conversely, that she never puts on a pair of “hard-shoes” again when she is done. I don’t know…and frankly, it doesn’t matter to me either way…as long as she is happy, thriving, and loves what she is doing.

She has chosen NINE years old to be FULL. Full of practice, dancing, fun, schedules, exhaustion, competitions, and lots of sacrifices. As her Mom, I watch carefully and often, to make sure she is indeed happy and thriving. I also check to make sure that our whole family is happy and thriving. At this moment in time…she is/we are. I give her lots of opportunities to “not” do what she does, and again, at this moment, she chooses to keep moving forward with her goals, her dreams, and her work.

As simply a person who is lucky enough to know her, I am in awe of who she is, what she does, and how internally motivated she really is. She is fearless and hardworking. And here is the MOST important factor, at this moment in time…SHE LOVES what she is doing!

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Comments (3)

Meg said:

What a perfect photo to close this post… ALWAYS LOOK UP! Life is good. xoxo


Joni said:

Touching sentiments about your beautiful daughter from the heart of a loving mother…so sweet!
XOXO
Joni


Diane DAmbrosio said:

I admire you daughter’s drive. Hats off to you as a Mom who encourages your daughter to grow into the person she will be. Go happy feet!


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