My Brief Life as a Stage Mom


My 4-year-old daughter participated in her first dance recital yesterday. It came after a full year of classes with her 3 to 5-year-old peers. I admit to feeling a little nervous for her: being on a stage, the lights, the full audience. She got nervous when I told her I was leaving to go sit with my husband, mother, and mother-in-law. So, I applied more lipstick (yes, I put some make-up on my 4-year-old), fixed her costume, and tried to leave the room.

Something occurred to me then: I am being a “stage mom.” This is so not me!

She was tearful and wavering and while I was telling her how much fun she was going to have, I was really thinking: You will get on that stage and dance and you will like it! I was thinking of all of the money we put into the class, shoes, and costumes. And I was thinking I did not want her to regret sitting it out. I became consumed with the need for my daughter to complete her dances on stage and feel good about it.

Each time I tried to leave the room, she clung to me. Luckily, some of the older dancers came over and talked to her and then I was able to leave while she was receiving some special attention from them.

Why do we, as parents, become so caught up in moments like these? I truly only wanted her to have this experience and not have any regrets. I was also mindful of “pushing” her, but not too far since I wanted her to actually have fun with her friends when on stage.

All I can say is: when my daughter ran into my arms holding her trophy at the end of the performance, I had never felt so proud of her. She worked through her anxiety, allowed others to help her through it, and had the biggest smile when I picked her up and gave her a hug and kiss. When I told her how proud of her I was, she repeated it back to me. She felt it.

I think both of us learned something at this recital: I can hold her and encourage her as much as I want, but she is her own person and will get through things with me–and sometimes without me–by using whatever resources available. That is a great lesson, and definitely worth a trophy or two.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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