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My Daughter is Teaching Me To Dance Again

A few months ago, I signed my daughter up for dance classes. I went store to store to find her the perfect dance clothes. She needed white tights, a pink leotard and I had to order her the right pink leather dance shoes online. I drove myself crazy for weeks worrying about her dance clothes.

Saturday morning, we got up early. I carefully put her in the white tights. I took out the leotard and she said, “Mommy…princess!” I smiled.

I soon realized the leotard was a bit too big and got angry at myself for not trying it on her sooner. Now she would look sloppy and it was my fault. But I put her hair into a little ballerina bun anyway and we headed to the studio.

We got there a little early and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My chest felt heavy and I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. It became difficult to focus.

I just wanted to take a “first day of dance” photo of my daughter.

More parents came in and filled the small lobby of the dance studio. Most seemed like they knew what they were doing. I wanted to sink into the crowd. I always wonder what other people’s perception would be of me if they knew I had been a heroin addict. My brain tried to tell me that I was not good enough to be there.

My daughter slipped on the floor and smashed her head on the bench. She was screaming and all eyes were on us but I just held her and reassured her that she would be okay.

“You will be okay baby. Mommy is here.”

The class was starting and I carried her over to the door to go inside. I got near the door and a gentle voice suggested, “Why don’t you let her try to walk in and see if she will go.” As I placed my daughter on the floor, she ran right into the room and sat down on her mat. She never looked back.

My heart dropped and I thought “she doesn’t need me.” The thought scared me because if she doesn’t need me—then who does?

Some of the other parents just sat on the benches in the lobby. I wanted to get outside because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I soon realized that I was not alone. Across the hall there were large glass windows with a vinyl overlay, but the decoration had little swirls that you could peek through. I went over and peered in.

My daughter was dancing. She was spinning around and holding hands with her new friends.

She didn’t know that I was having an incredibly difficult week. She didn’t know that I had walked away from the career I thought was my “dream job.”

She didn’t know that I had spent the night before awake and crying… feeling like I was failing her.

My daughter just danced. She was brave and free. She did not have a care in the world.

It has been a few days now since her dance class. Today my daughter had a rough day after falling on the pavement. Her knees hurt and she has a huge bump on her forehead. She wanted to watch the movie Annie, so I turned it on. As we were watching, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, I want to dance.”

It has been so long since I danced.

So we danced. I let go of all the stress and for a moment it was just me and her. Nothing else existed. One of my biggest challenges as a mother is balancing between wanting my daughter to need me and wanting her to fly. Today I needed her and I chose to let go of the guilt. I needed to lean in on my two year old and I let that be okay. We spun around until we were dizzy and we laughed and she looked at me and said “Mommy dancing!”

Yes, baby. Mommy is dancing.

Hillary Dumas is a woman with five years in recovery from substance use disorder and is from central Massachusetts. Hillary is a single mother to a strong willed two year old girl.

Hillary manages a substance abuse treatment program. She has a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling and is halfway through her Bachelor’s in Business Administration Management. She believes in transparency and sharing her raw experiences to help others feel less alone.

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