The fourth anniversary of my mother’s passing is quickly approaching. During this time of year, a song comes to mind, one that is extremely relevant in my life and which I quoted when I spoke at her funeral.
The country song by Lee Ann Womack titled “I Hope You Dance” is one that has held a lot of meaning for me.
If you’ve not heard this song, I highly suggest checking it out. Its message is one I believe every parent tries to relay to their children at one point or another. The gist of the song is this: a mother is expressing her wish for her children to step out, embrace life and take chances. I relate to this song on a personal level. Not only does it remind me of my own mother’s wishes for me, but it now applies to my own daughter and the lessons I hope she will learn.
I took dance classes and danced competitively for 10 years, from elementary school through high school. When I think about my time as a dancer, I recall some of the best memories of my life. Being a dancer taught me many lifelong lessons. I have now come full-circle; not only did my daughter start taking dance classes at age three, but this past year, she was part of her studio’s performance team and most recently tried out for and made the middle school dance team!
To say this makes this ex-dancer’s mama heart happy is an understatement. I never wanted to be the type of parent to push my own interests and hobbies onto my children. I want them to be their own person and participate in what interests and is enjoyable to them, but I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t have been just a little heartbroken if dance hadn’t been what my daughter’s passion ended up being! Now, I get to experience my love of dance through her eyes. And unbeknownst to her, my daughter is gaining valuable lessons in character and friendship along the way.
Accountability is a skill that being on a competitive dance team teaches. Even as adults, we know that working in a group seems simple, but in reality, it takes a lot of compromise and discussion to be cohesive. Being part of a dance team requires a lot of practice and collaboration. And, in order to have a routine appear flawless on stage, both individual and team efforts are needed.
Another life skill my daughter can learn through dance is determination. It is important to worry not only about the performance, but also the rehearsals leading up to it. My daughter is learning that you cannot give up when your body is tired or if something is difficult. I can certainly think of times in my own life where determination was something for which I had to dig deep!
Something else she is learning is flexibility, and I’m not referring only to physical flexibility! If, at her young age, she can learn to adapt to the curve balls life might throw her way, she will be better off. There are many times in which dancers have to know how to perform different genres of dance, for example, times when graceful ballet lines are needed instead of sharp jazz or hip hop moves. Also, having the flexibility to balance frustration with grace when mistakes are made is something she will most likely use every day, and not only within the walls of her dance studio.
There are so many more qualities to be learned through dance — I could go on and on. I believe each to be important in its own unique way. Despite my hope that my daughter will take these lessons and apply them to her own life, I am not so naïve to think that she will always be able to remember the life skills she learned in her dance classes and draw from them.
My daughter will face challenges. At times, she will very likely want to give up and will not feel determined to accomplish much. It’s almost like I speak from experience (hint-hint). When this happens, I hope my daughter can pull from within and get to the place where she remembers what to do. I hope she remembers — as my mother hoped for me and as I will always hope for her — to dance when she can.