It’s strange how inspiration flows abundantly at times and then at others is so lacking that one all but relinquishes to the idea of trying to fight for it. That’s all you can really do in those periods of drought, struggle through the weighted muck that the creative block inevitably brings, conserving your energies as best you can and using whatever tools you have to remind yourself that if you were once on fire you’ll likely find your way there again. The rain does return at some point. It always does. It’s just that when you find yourself in this place of blah you forget, over and over again, just how simple it often is to get you gears moving again. And then someone shows you the way by merely sharing their light and exposing you to their creative energy. It’s like a kick to the head and suddenly feeling yourself flooded with oxygen after holding your breath for several minutes (or months) all at once. Exactly what you needed. Thank you, Michelle, for reminding me to get my feet wet again.
I’m not a big fan of reality TV. In fact I find that most people who subject themselves and their families to that kind of absurdity should be stoned for so readily contributing to the dumbing-down of this country. That said, my new favorite show is a horrific Wednesday night reality called “Dance Moms”. And it’s not just the f***ed-up factor that catches my interest. The show catapults me back to my early teens in such a way that I’m caught in a mix of appall, joy, longing, and anger.
My mom prides herself on not having been one of the “dance moms” so accurately portrayed in this Lifetime atrocity. She was, in fact, struggling with severe depression and a three-volume doctoral dissertation through most of my childhood and teenage years and was thus rather absent when it came to things that most of the moms at my small, cheeky dance studio liked to do—namely complain about so-and-so dancer’s solo being too (fill in the blank), gossip about other moms, argue over what shade of whorish-red lipstick best shows up on stage, and when out of earshot of our prudish studio owner, alter our costumes to show a little more skin so we might actually have a shot at competing with the ultra sexy twelve-year-olds from the studio across town. No, my mom didn’t do any of that. She pretty much ran away in fear anytime another dance mom tried to rope her into their circle.
During those years, I thought I had the oldest, strictest, most boring mom around. I felt like I was missing out on a true “Mother-Daughter Experience” when I compared my own to the other fun, uber-involved dance moms ever present at the studio, obsessively watching us practice and contributing their two cents whenever allotted the opportunity. Over the last couple years my relationship with my mother has shifted and I’ve come to understand and appreciate her on a different level. Yet it wasn’t until I discovered “Dance Moms” that I came to understand exactly how lucky I was, having the mother I had as a teenager. I might have thought so at the time, given that she was the one different from the rest, but now I see the truth: she wasn’t a complete whack job like the rest of them.
Come to think of it, this probably explains why the only long-lasting trauma I took away from my dance career was the residual eating-disorder/body image struggle that has carried me through my twenties. Looking at my former dance mates, things could have turned out a whole lot worse…
Love you, Mom