I’ll admit it. One of my favorite shows on television is Dance Moms. I won’t say I’m—ahem—addicted to it, but I definitely don’t like to miss an episode. It’s crazy. And upsetting. And, I can honestly say, true to life.
You see, I’m a dance mom myself. Something I never saw coming.
My daughter started dance nearly ten years ago when I tried to help her with her shyness by putting her in a “Music Movement” class. Essentially, the class consisted of her and ten other three year olds running around in circles and raising their hands to go potty. She then went onto try a variety of other extracurricular activities until settling back on dance at the age of eight.
Since then, she’s been all in. And so I’ve joined her there.
It’s not what you think, and it’s exactly what you think. But, mostly, it’s been a great experience for her. And me. In fact, some of my greatest lessons in motherhood have come from this experience:
- There will always be drama. Whether it’s in the classroom, or the soccer field, or the stage, in any competitive environment you will see the very best and the very worst of people. Learning to balance it in you, and through you is key.
- Failure is a good thing. For both me and my children. Watching my daughter try and yet lose year after year was difficult. But, once she got her first win, we both got to experience the joy of winning at something you’ve worked hard to achieve. Pure joy.
- Helping those who come behind you is both rewarding and the right thing to do. Encouraging my child to mentor younger dancers has made her more sensitive to other’s struggles. Being a positive role model is a rare thing in today’s culture, and something I want to cultivate in my kids.
- There will always be someone who is more successful than you, and there will always be someone who is less successful. Learning to be kind to both has made my daughter a nicer, and happier, person.
- Competitions aren’t always fair. Neither is life. Sometimes the best person doesn’t win. Sometimes the obvious mistake gets overlooked. At some point in life, you will be on both sides of this fence. Learn to take whatever is thrown at you with grace.
- Sometimes you have to show respect to people in authority that may not deserve it. Not everyone will earn your respect. Sometimes you have to give it anyway because of their position in your life.
- Comparisons to others are a waste of time. Each person is an individual. You can’t compare your success, or your failures, to what someone else is going through. Focus on improving yourself more than you focus on the competition.
- Sometimes you will be mistreated by people you trust. When you are, it’s okay to stand up for yourself and do what is best for you. That includes standing up as a family for your children. There is nothing more powerful than a family united.
- Teaching your child that you believe in them—no matter what—will make them believe in themselves. At some point, we all have to get on that stage alone. When your turn comes, knowing someone will always be waiting in the wings is an amazing encouragement.
- In a team, you have to put your own wants, your own hopes, and your own ego to the side in order for the larger group to benefit. As a mother, we are often called to do the same. To put our own wants for our children out of our hands. To place our own hopes for them aside so that we can help them choose their own way. To place our own egos to the side so that we can love them through the challenges they face.
What unforeseen benefits have you experienced through your children’s competitive teams?