Eating my words

AmmuPattu

I am on the floor, sitting on a padded mattress, Laddu sitting by me as I watch five girls, two of mine take positions on the dance floor. They are laughing and giggling as they figure out where each person needs to stand. The music begins and they groove, their arms and legs moving off sync. With every move, they are looking through the corner of their eyes at their teacher who is off to the side showing them what comes next.

I watch as an onlooker. I watch as a parent. I watch as a mother. I am smiling the whole time. My cheeks hurt from being stretched for so long. When the music ends and the girls are supposed to hold their positions for a final shot, mine goof off, happy that it is done. I wait in the wings, arms outstretched as they make a beeline towards me. I hug, land kisses in awkward places and feel proud as only a mother can.

A day later, I am in the kitchen supposed to be cleaning up when I watch the video of their show. This time, I notice all of the jerky movements, the lackadaisical approach to what must be a show of unity. I notice their focus on getting the movements right. Smile! I want to say, it does not matter that you are not following the steps. Smile. Enjoy the music and all will be well.

I share the video. I scroll through the list of friends and family repeating the same message over and over. When I am done, I get back to my chores and reflect on the pride I feel. Misplaced pride, the voice in my head corrects. What was I thinking sharing the video, pipes up another voice. I hark back to another time. A time when I was just a woman. A woman hoping to build her family. I was at a similar performance elsewhere and I remember walking back to my car wondering why on earth parents would let kids up on stage unless they were good. Really good.

Today I had my answer. As I watched my girls get together as a group with three other girls for the past seven Sundays, I saw something beautiful. I saw them focus, listen to their teacher. I saw them looking at the dancers with them looking for cues and help as they struggled to remember what the next step was. I saw them dance, humming to the music in a language that was alien to them. Most importantly, I saw them look to me for approval, for encouragement, for that smile on my face to reach my eyes.

Yesterday’s performance will be a minute speck in the montage of their childhood. They may or may not go on to dance professionally or even as a hobby but they will remember that when they were on stage and their eyes searched for me. I was there, my face threatening to split open with pride and happiness.

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