Since my daughter was two, we have participated in one annual holiday tradition - her dancing in the Nutcracker and my running around like a crazy person trying to help and support and work.
Every year the show ends with exhausted dancers, proud parents, and sniffles.
This year proved to be no different, except that after over two weeks of intense rehearsals and performances, it was me with the sniffle. Me who went to work with watering nose and eyes and people just wondering why I had ventured in when I could have stayed at home.
Other than the dripping and blowing and body racking sneezing... I felt totally fine
That was yesterday; today I am soooo much better. (Not that anyone noticed mind you)
Yesterday I learned that my dancer is one of the few who survived the three weeks of Nutcracker madness with only thirty-six hours of cold. Parents and dancers alike are feeling the pain of long nights, hectic days, and stress coupled with excitement. There is nothing quite like being the parent of a dancer during Nutcracker season. It is one of those times when you truly realize that you only "thought" ballet ran your life before; during the Nutcracker, you realize just to what extent it actually does!
For weeks to come, we will gather at Starbucks and discuss the performances, the season unfolding, and scratch our heads in bewilderment as to just how we got ourselves into this and wonder if there is an exist strategy (which there isn't). We will talk about the money that we are investing the solid training for dancers who have a less than X% chance of being professional ballet dancers - and most of them aspire to careers that have little to do with the stage anyway.
And we wonder why we are doing this?
Why we endure the long nights, the lack of social lives, and the hours of volunteering.
Why we give our vacations, our new cars, and house remodeling to tomorrow so that there can be hours of ballet training today.
It would be wonderful to be able to say that it is because we are all great believers in the arts. That we recognize the value of ballet and see it as a gift to the world and an art form that requires investment and preservation.
While I do believe these things, I don't consider those reasons for the time and investment that is given to the ballet school my daughter attends. Ballet gives her amazing gifts and has introduced her to experiences few other activities offer. I could easily state that I maintain her training for these experiences; but, I don't think that would be accurate either.
It takes only moments for each of us to remember why we invest as we do; why we continue to give despite all of our comments and grumbling.
A few moments watching our dancers perform... that is all it takes.
I can't speak for all of the ballet parents whose children attend this school, but for my ballet clique... it it is all a function of seeing your child doing something that they love.
What other reason do I need?
So I will blow my nose, sneeze a lot, and attempt to be as germ free as possible at work. I will put of that trip to Europe and remind myself that the kitchen really is enough. I will do that and give more of myself to see the dancers reveling in the realization of hard work and following their hearts.