Last month I was thinking about Mother's Day and how I am surrounded by these incredibly, strong, amazing moms. The moms that can manage to bring their daughter to ballet class dressed in their leotard and tights AND carrying a newborn, moms that push themselves to accomplish their goals even though they are exhausted, moms that understand the everyday efforts to keep their head above water. You are committed. You are an inspiration to me.
My beautiful friend Emily and fellow ballerina is in her first year as a mom to little Nora. I invited her to be a guest blogger this month and share with us her first year as a mom. Last Sunday, we spent the afternoon dancing in the ballet studio with our daughters. It was one of my favorite days.
New Mom. Grace. Joy. By Emily Brady Sandoval
Many moons ago, I heard a fellow ballerina say, "The common thread between dancing and motherhood is creativity and balance." Now that my first official Mother’s Day is here, I couldn’t find that saying more true.
My baby girl is seven months old and truly is the brightest light in my galaxy. I can’t believe this precious gift of a giggling, curious, brown hair, brown eyed, bottle-denying, drooling, mama-obsessed-daughter is mine. She is part of my beautiful husband, part of me, a little bit of distant family members and a WHOLE lot of herself. And I grew her; every cell, every eyelash, every muscle. Her brain, her sweet heart, her fingers, all of her bones. Oh, my Nora girl.
Taking a moment to stop and look at her, to think of all my body created, she’s a gift. She’s a miracle. And as her mama, it’s my duty to treat her as such, every day. To nourish her to be her best self in this world and to give her all the love, confidence, good experiences and poise I can so she can be strong in such a colorful and ever-changing world. So she can find her own way to move, flow and dance to her own beat as a child and one day, into a adult. Being a mama, especially these days, is a BIG job. But I couldn’t imagine a more important one or one I would love more. Eleanora has become the greatest love of my life.
One of the biggest and longest loves before my sweet babe arrived, is dance. It ruled my world for 30 ish years! When I think of my life as a dancer then and now as a new mother, I have struggled at times to find the rhythm. My balance some days is so spot on! Other days, I am so off beat that I feel defeated. I used to dance and work out all the time! Now, there are days I’m lucky if dinner is made and I have showered. And laundry, well, it’s basically a full time job in our house. Taking client calls and scheduling sitters in between nursing her, walking the dog, yard work, making baby food, mom’s groups, swimming class, cleaning, birthday parties, family obligations and juggling my husband’s travel schedule; sigh. Life is packed. Constantly. Not quite the same as taking my creativity and fitness to new heights 6-7 days a week and focusing primarily on my own needs. It’s all so new to me still, and that’s okay. I have been learning to start giving myself some grace. Even ballerina’s have rough days, right?
Life as a dancer was never an easy life. The balance was always hard but beyond rewarding. My mind was always full of choreography and music, schedules of rehearsing and finding time for normal life activities and work. Being a new mama, I once again find myself having a head full of things to learn and choreograph into my daily routine for my daughter and me. What I am learning, is finding time for myself, to dance, to stretch and to take a step back from the day to day grind we all find ourselves in as working/stay at home moms is necessary. SO. Necessary.
My soul and mind need time to focus on myself in order to be a better mom to my baby. Even if it’s for fifteen minutes! Some days, it’s easier than others. I am lucky to have Mary Helen Bowers 'Ballet Beautiful' work outs handy for me at home and Tracy Anderson dvds to change things up with light weights when I feel the need.
I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do. She watches me dance in the living room, we stretch on the floor as she’s playing and I play my favorite ballet music for her as I dance around the kitchen. I tell her about when mama danced in Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadere. Watching her face light up and listen to her giggle as I whirl around her doing tummy-time gives me more joy than I can put into words.
What I'm finding is, the balance wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now. It’s all just learning and flowing to the beat of our life. To keep creating, dancing, changing to the new music we are gifted by the dawn of each day. I have so many tools, so many gifts; how can I NOT choose joy during such a precious and short time? What a blessing, that I get to use my many lessons as a ballerina in my newest months of becoming Eleanora’s mom! What a gift that I can dance with her, show her how vital self-care is, to nurture creativity, to just let the music take you and let your heart go.
To all the mothers, seasoned or new, I hope you find your joy today in the life (or lives) you have created. The lives of the children you cherish so deeply and the new life you created for yourself, when you saw your baby for the very first time. You are a strong, caring, incredible being and today, you deserve to dance. You earned it, mamas!