On Monday, I’ll get my brand new ballet costume. It will be blue…light blue…that’s my favorite color.
My sweet girl, somehow old enough to be taking part in her first ballet recital.
Craig took the day off so that we could both be there when she saw her costume for the first time.
These sweet little girls were to try on their new costumes and do a run through of their dance.
Our anticipation of her joy kept us up the night before. We laid there in the dark, envisioning her happy face, marveling at the thought that she is nearly four years old.
The first part of class went so well…she kept waving to us, her smile easily reaching across the room and into our hearts.
When the time came for her teacher to hand out the costumes, we were invited to join her, to help her put it on.
And Katie froze.
This is the wrong costume…I want the other light blue one…I don’t like this one.
Somehow, this costume paled in comparison to the one that she built up in her mind.
Her face started to crumble…tears welled in the inner corner of her eyes, threatening to fall over her still-baby cheeks at any moment.
We tried to re-frame the costume for her, pointing out the lovely trim, the pale blue grosgrain ribbons, the layers of white tulle, as we helped her get dressed.
And her tears fell.
As the other girls ran toward their teacher for a group photo, Katie refused to join them.
She stood, panicked, beseeching me to take off her costume, her grip on my hand stronger than I’ve ever felt.
I don’t like it…please take it off, Mommy.
In those few moments, I was frozen in that space between…between doing what’s best for my child in the moment and what’s best for her in the long run.
I wanted to undress her and scoop her up…to reassure her that I hear her and that she matters. That she can confide in me and I will always listen. That she has a voice. That she can trust me.
But instead, I held firm, encouraging her at first, then pushing her gently, then telling her that she had to join them for at least a few minutes.
I walked her over to join her peers for the run through of their dance, reassuring her the whole way.
And she kept crying.
But, Mommy, I don’t want to…I need a big hug.
With one last hug, I turned and walked away…back to my spot with Craig at the side of the room and watched her through my own tears.
She locked eyes with me, then Craig, and went through the motions, crying all the while.
When the dance was over, we enveloped her in our hugs and soothed her with our love. We congratulated her on doing what she needed to do, even though it was difficult.
It still feels like someone is sitting on my chest when I think of it.
I don’t know how to find that perfect space between offering her a safe place to land and helping her to find wings.
I want to be both.
She deserves for me to be both.
Is that even possible?