Monday, March 14, 2011

Mommy Cried at Ballet Class Today

*WARNING: Crazy long post ahead*

Today was Observation Day at Addie's dance studio and all parents and grandparents were welcome to come watch the girls during class. I have been looking forward to this day for the past 5 months because the last observation day was in October when Addie was just starting to go into class by herself. I really didn't want her to regress and wonder why Mommies and Nanas were aloud in that day and not any other. So we skipped that observation and waited for today. I'm glad we skipped that day in October because for the past 5 months, Addie has been wonderful in class. She goes in excited and comes out excited. I have just been so proud of her for being such a big girl.

But sadly, for the past few weeks, Addie has been regressing again. I can think of a hundred different excuses to explain why this is happening after MONTHS of success: Lack of sleep one week, an illness another week, a birthday party hangover, etc. I can also blame it on the fact that her studio let three new 2-year-old girls in the class. These girls all just turned 2 and Addie and the rest of her class are all 3 or 3 1/2. This class started as a 2-3 year old group but that was in September. Now we are in March and after close to 7 months with the same little girls, it is a little distracting to them to see so many new faces. Plus, one of these new little girls cries every week like Addie did in the beginning so her mom has been sitting in class every week trying to help her transition. Addie has asked a few times why the "other mommy" is in class and maybe my explanation has been lost on her. I want this so badly to be the cause of her regression because hopefully this is something we can fix again. But there is another part of me that wonders if it is something bigger. I wonder if its something I'm doing wrong?

I really hate the parent spotlight sometimes. I hate the feeling of judging eyes on me as I try to discipline my child or try to reason with her. I know what judging eyes look like because I have my own pair. I know I have said just as many judgmental things while watching other parents because it's easy to judge when it's not you doing the parenting. You can look at a parent who is screaming at their child in Target and think, "Wow. Is that necessary? That mom should wait until she gets to the parking lot to do that.". But then a week later, I will be in the SAME Target yelling the SAME things at my daughter. And somewhere in the office supply isle, another woman is judging me the same way.

I wish women were easier on each other. Actually, I wish women were easier on themselves. I feel like 75% of the judgement we feel is coming from within and that is hard to ignore. Today, I felt many sets of judging eyes on me but none were more brutal than my own.

I literally spent my whole morning PRAYING that Addie would have a good ballet class today so that she could show Nana and Papa just how much she has learned. I had a knot in my stomach the whole way there but when she went running into the room, I thought we would be okay. She sat down in her circle and just started chatting away to Miss Shelly. All the moms were smiling and looking at me and I felt good. She was happy and excited and it was going to be okay.


But then Addie stood up for a second and Audrey sat down on her lily pad. In Audrey's defense, she probably didn't realize that Addie was sitting there because she was up moving around. But when Addie saw that someone else was on her lily pad, all hell broke loose. Addie tried to grab her lily pad back from Audrey, who was holding on to it for dear life, and the two began to have a tug-of-war. There was screaming, crying and just before it turned into a full on cat fight...I grabbed Addie and took her out of the room so we could talk.

As we stood in the hallway, I tried everything I could to get her to calm down and go back in. I was offering bribes, I was threatening to take away toys, you name it. I called my mom out for reinforcement and she was finally able to get Addie to go back into the room. But I stayed in the hallway. I couldn't go back in because I was so embarrassed. There, in front of EVERY other mom in the class, my daughter had a nervous breakdown over a lily pad. And then it took having my mom come out to get Addie to go back into class. I couldn't even fix the problem myself. So I stood in the hallway and cried for a minute.

I couldn't see them, but I could feel them. The judging eyes. The whispers. One mom saying to the other, "Oh my gosh...doesn't she have any control over her child?" I just wanted to leave.. But I knew I couldn't. I would have to go in and face the music. But before I did, Katie came out to tell me that she was sorry Audrey stole Addie's lily pad. Katie...my sweet cousin-in-law...trying to blame her child to make me feel better. Haha! She reassured me that she was feeling the judging eyes too and that we should just go in together and stand tall. And that we did.

By the time we went back into the room, all the girls were up dancing and running around like nothing happened. Addie...my little bipolar ballerina...was singing and dancing like she didn't just go crazy on her cousin. And Audrey was acting like Addie was her best friend again. I took a little 4 minute video so you could see the girls in action. Addie is in hotpink and Audrey is in sleeveless light pink. Honestly...can you even tell these girls were crying a minute ago?


You might have also noticed from the video that two other moms were dancing with their daughters. That's because their girls both started crying in class and it was the only way to get them dancing again. As I sat and watched them, I noticed that there was another little girl crying in the hallway, another tripped and fell and was crying on her mom's lap, and another was just wondering aimlessly while her mom screamed for her to listen. You can't see a lot of this in the video, but you can hear me laughing because I realized in that moment that there were no judging eyes on me. We were ALL in the same boat. Kids not listening, kids crying, kids wondering around, kids falling down...it was happening all around us. By this point we were all looking around laughing with each other...not at each other.

By the end of class, Addie had become Miss Shelly's helper. Another little girl didn't want to walk the balance beam and do her solo so the girl asked if Addie could come with her. And she did, proud as a little peacock.



The girls all finished their routine and did one final performance for us.



They did a great job and I think ALL of us were happy that class was finally over.


Before we left though, the girls all sang "Happy Birthday" to Audrey...


And then we headed to McDonald's to celebrate some more and all the kids indulged in an ice cream cone...



I think Blake may have been the only one to fully enjoy himself today. Ha!


We talked some more over lunch and realized that we all have difficult moments with our kids. We can feel totally proud one moment and completely humiliated the next. We never want to be the one with "that child" and we most certainly never want to be "that parent". But we all have that child and we are all that parent from time to time. But if we can all just accept that, I think there would be a lot less judging eyes. And a lot less crying in the hallway :-)

So friends...that was my day in a nutshell. I appreciate all of you who read to the end of this insanely long post. You guys are the best :-) Now I am going to go indulge in some wine. I think I earned it :-)

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this!! It is so true...with Sean misbehaving in school I now get so nervous and anxious when I pick him up and ask "how was he". I always feel like if Sean has a bad day then the teacher is thinking "what does she teach him at home?" and just the other day Sean had a total meltdown in the grocery store and I was "that mom" walking around with a screaming child....I was so embarrassed that when I got out to the car I just started crying! But you are soooooo right! We all have "that child" and are "that mom" at some point.
    Just know you are an awesome mom! All kids act up...we just forget that when our child is the one doing it :)

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  2. Jen...I loved this post!!! It made me smile and cry and wish I were a mom in Addies class so I could hug you...and then point out something horrible Caroline was doing because we all wish more moms would just stop and say "Honey, I've been there too". Enjoy your wine :)

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  3. I did not see one child in class today that was listening. They were all off doing their own thing..whether it be daydreaming, crying, not listening, jumping when they were supposed to be sitting, sitting when they were supposed to be jumping, etc. etc. etc. Addie is just like every other 3 year old. It's just always hard when it's "YOUR" child. Let me remind you of some stories from when you were little. Like when we were at a christening for one of your cousins. You were 3 at the time and your Aunt (to remain nameless) came down the stairs. Now mind you, she had just given birth 8 weeks earlier. And you loudly announced in front of the ENTIRE family.... "Here comes fat Aunt ____!!!! Talk about being mortified. And that is just ONE story out of millions that I can share to make you feel better!!

    Better now?????

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  4. Jen, I don't think there is one mom out there who has not felt the way you did today. I was in Target once and Matthew was having a meltdown about a toy that he wanted. I was being THAT mom and letting him cry. I was not going to give in. We where in the check out and this lovely college age girl behind me mentioned to her friend that "bribery works wonders". Mind you I will use bribery when needed but I am not about to give in to a screaming 3 year old who wants a toy. I every so nicely turned around gave a nice big smile. I so badly wanted to ask her what she knew about dealing with screaming kids, but all I really wanted to do was run to my car and cry. I know I sometimes forget that Matthew is only 4 and expect him to behave perfectly. I might as well realize the fact that will never happen. Just remember then they are watching you they really are just watching to see if they can learn a way to handle their kids better.

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  5. I felt exactly that way today while grocery shopping. Emma had a meltdown about something so ridiculous that I can't even remember what it was. But it was her screaming and yelling at me that made me feel so horrible. I could do nothing to make her stop and I felt all eyes on me. Later in the check out line an old man in front of us says to Emma, "Hey! You're not crying anymore." So embarrassing that so many people had witnessed her horrible outburst and wondered (or what I think they wondered) how can that mom let her act that way? I have to say, I have "that" child. The one that loves to push the boundaries, has no fear of consequences, and recently, isn't afraid to talk back in such a mean manner. We're trying so hard to get a handle on her...and it's trying. I mean trying. I know every mom goes thru one thing or another with their child and it's so hard not to judge ourselves or one another. But we do and we shouldn't. So just know Jen, we're right there with you and have nothing but empathy!

    And P.S. I can't wait to meet up with you and your little ones and your mom this spring. My mom is going to join us, just let me know a day that works and we'll plan from there! :)

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  6. remember, we all were kids once,and we all did the same things. Thats why they say, kids will be kids. i had a great day today with the kiddies. you know, Blake had a GREAT day today!

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  7. I can't say much that hasn't already been said... but the biggest thing to remember is that she is three! Is she a sweet girl most of the time? Does she use her manners most of the time? Does she play well & act nicely toward others most of the time? Yes! You're doing a good job, Mama Jen!

    Totally laughed my ass off at your mom's story! Hahahaha!!! And Beeker sure looks like he had a hell of a good time!

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  8. Jenny,

    So sorry to hear about your difficult day!! That's life as a mom :) Honestly, most moms are probably not thinking that you cannot control your child. They are probably secretly smiling inside knowing that their own child has done that before! We are all in the same boat. Don't worry about what you *think* others are thinking. You probably have the majority on your side!! I always say...been there, done that! Now that my kids are a little older, I definitely appreciate that I don't have to deal with public meltdowns (most of the time!), but I always smile inside when I see other mothers going through public tantrums. And I'm only smiling because I can relate....I NEVER judge :) You are a wonderful mommy!! HUGS!

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  9. Thanks for posting this....I needed to hear a story about how I am not the only one going through this. We had a morning like this at the dentist office and we were asked to leave because my son was yelling and crying so much about getting his teeth cleaned. Everyone sat snickering about me trying to carrying him out to the car as he is throwing his body around and crying. One of the hygentists had to carry my one year old out to my car so I could get my son out. I felt like the worst mom in the world. We all have days like this and one day we will laugh about it.

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  10. And this, ladies, is why I blo!!!. For the support and encouragement and best of all...for the laughter. Thanks for sharing your stories to make me feel better. It does feel wonderful to know we are not alone in this crazy world called Motherhood :-)

    Ashley - I thought of you as I posted this. I knew you were with me this week :-)

    ASC - I would gladly accept that hug. Skip moving to Cali and come to Chicago instead!

    Mom - I guess payback is a bitch. Hahaha! I actually want to call Aunt no-name and tell her how sorry I am!!!!

    Kristy - That damn Target and all those tempting toys!!! I think every mom has had a Target meltdown, but it's nice to know that we all try to handle it the same way sometimes and stick to our guns :-)

    Heather - I have QUITE the sassy pants on my hands too. We should compare notes when we get together. I CAN'T WAIT!

    Chelsi - Girl...you know Jan is always good for a laugh. And thanks for the support sweetie. I know I can always count on you.

    Pops - I love you too! And yes...your little buddy Blake had the best day out of anyone. Ha!

    Suzy - You always leave the sweetest comments. I am lucky to have a cousin like you :-) You are a mom I look up to so if you have been there and survived...I know there's hope :-)

    Marie - Oh honey...I feel for you!!! And I just made Addie's first dentist appointment. Lord help me. Ha! You are not alone...TRUST me :-)

    Thanks for all the great comments ladies (and Dad). It means a lot!

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  11. Yeah...that first line was suppose to say, "This is why I BLOG...not blo. Hahaha!

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  12. I totally feel better after reading this and everyone's comments. For no unearthly reason, my son lost his stuff this morning. We pulled up to the flooring store and when I went to get him out of his car seat, he flipped out. He continued to do so the entire time I was in there. I threatened time outs. I yelled at him to get off the floor, I even started to walk away from him & he really freaked.

    I saw an employee in one of the offices as I was walking out and she totally gave me a dirty look. This was the first time I ever actually yelled at my son in public.

    When we got back to the car, he hugged me as tight as he could & his freak out turned into a whimper. I felt so bad. I stood there in the parking lot hugging him for about 5 minutes.

    Once the car started moving again, he was as happy as a clam. Kids!

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