By motherhood I don’t really mean just the kids. Motherhood is so much more than just kids. It is the driving, the managing of schedules, the cleaning, the picking-up, the cooking (or at least deciding where to eat), and that doesn’t even include what I do for work, writing about dancing, or teaching salsa rueda. I am lucky to have two wonderful kids who are blessed with athletic abilities. I can’t fault them for it – they get it from me (my husband is now laughing). However, with this comes a schedule that, at times, runs me down.
For the past 13 years, I have been dancing steadily, taking lessons, going to practices, teaching, and promoting. Often people ask me how I manage to get through life with my schedule and still find time to dance. I don’t know. I’m tired all the time. I don’t mean that tiredness that you get when you only get 6 hrs of sleep. I mean that tiredness where if you could, you’d lay down and sleep for days, wake up, and probably still be able to sleep a little more. My body gives out on me sometimes. Yeah, I know, I’m old. My right knee will give out as I go up or down stair steps. I’ll be on the treadmill and my knees will say, “Hey! We’ve had enough. Please stop!” My response is that has only been 10 mins – buck up! My feet hurt at times and after a night of dancing I may opt for the sandals instead of the 3 inch heels.
At times my thoughts drift to, “Salsa is only for the young, the single, and the childless!” Those people rebound quickly, do not have to get up and get to a sports field by 8 am the next morning or even spend 12 hours at a softball tournament. Don’t get me wrong, those hours spent watching my kids play sports is glorious. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I also don’t want to trade in dancing either.
I fear for the moment when my life does not allow for me to dance anymore - at least not on a regular basis. Dance is my stress relief. It is my social network. Most of my friendships were formed through dance. When those are gone, then what? What happens to the friendships? I have never wanted to be one of those moms whose whole life is her kids with no other outlets. That’s fine for some. Not for me. I need a balance. But what happens when that balance tips in favor of softball, football, soccer, or school? Will I be relegated to just a few moments of dancing at my house? Will I ever see my friends again? Will they cease to exist in my life because I’m not out dancing and we have nothing else in common?
I cried the other day when I realized that I didn’t want to go dance. I had only gotten 2 hours of sleep the night before. The previous 3 weeks had been full of traveling to Florida, Tennessee, and Michigan. I felt no desire at all to move my feet or body. I lamented this to some friends on Twitter (of all places) and they encouraged me to go. They felt that if I went and danced that the passion would return. I knew it had been coming. Each week was a little harder. I started wondering if I should teach again. Would it matter if I ever danced again? All of those self-pity questions that come up inside one’s head.
I don’t really know how other parents with kids manage their dancing lives. Some I never see out anymore. A couple of my favorite male partners dropped out of the salsa word when they had kids. Parents who share custody may be able to get out on the weekends when their kids are with the other parent. For me, I have an amazing husband who understands how important dancing is to me and supports that. I do know that whatever they are doing, they are tired too. They feel the same stress when walking out the door the child asks, “Can’t you just stay home tonight?” or “Do you really have to go and teach?” The guilt can be overpowering. It isn’t just you, yourself, making the decision to go and dance. You have this other person or people demanding your attention. You rationalize with yourself that it is ok. It is just one night. And then it is two nights. And then it is a trip to San Francisco, Atlanta, and anywhere else you can find Cuban dancing in the United States. You start dreaming of a two-week trip to Cuba, Europe, or South America. You almost forget that you are a mother and your children need you. They need you more than the dance floor needs. I could be luckier to have two incredible kids who love me and don't mind that I have to leave to go dance.
We come back to the balance and the passion. I think I have found a good balance. I only dance at Cuban events and that is about it for right now. Thankfully, sometimes we have 2 events a week now and then I have to choose which one fits into my schedule the best. I realize that I may not be able to go to the events in other states again until my kids are older and can go with me. Although as you can see, I do take them to events when I can. My goal is that by keeping dancing in my life that they, too, will be inspired to dance and incorporate elements of their Puerto Rican heritage into their life.
And the passion? I am sure the passion will return. I know it is down there, deep inside of me, somewhere. It may be a song, a dance, or just a single movement that will restore it and I’ll be back to feeling like myself.