I have often wondered about other ballet families, is there life outside of dance? For this ballet family, our answer is “yes”, but very limited. Recently E had the opportunity to go on a high school music department trip to Austria on spring break – no performing, no singing, just taking in the sights of Austria, primarily Salzburg and Vienna. What an amazing opportunity to visit these places. While she was gone, I had another”aha” moment – there were no dance classes, no rushing from school to the studio, no complaining about how little time to do homework – no nothing. It was quiet – too quiet. We got a glimpse of what life will be like in a few years if E decides to go away to college. Has my life revolved around E’s schedule? I have to answer that question honestly and say “yes”. We do own a retail business, but when I’m not at our store, I’m usually driving E to a class or helping her stay focused on homework, or just hanging out together.
For E, she may not say it often, but she does have a life outside of ballet – albeit limited. We want her to take advantage of the non-dance trips, events, activities that work within all of our schedules – it expands horizons, it stretches comfort zones, it helps ensure our priorities are right and gives our experiences that may change the direction of our lives.
So, for me and my husband, it helped us look at what we currently focus and put our energies on now, and what we will need to do once we have a completely empty nest. I do have some people ask me if I think my life revolves around our kids ~ my answer yes and no. We have such little time with them before they are adults, and starting having lives of their own. I want to be involved, I want to know what are their dreams, thoughts and desires. I always want my kids to need us, just a little. I want them to ask for our help at all stages of their lives, and ours. When they were little, we awed at each of their “firsts” – first steps, first words, first day of school, etc. Now, I try to cherish many of their “lasts” – for our son a few years ago, it was his last band concert, his last crew regatta, his last dance, his last high school final. For E, being our “baby” (she hates that), we want to soak in every one of her “lasts”, as well as the “in-betweens”. I encourage parents, don’t let go of your kids too early. Be a vital part of their life through high school and in college, no matter where they are geographically or emotionally. We identify as parents the moment our kids are born, and I know we will continue to do so even when they are parents themselves.