Julie Lyles Carr: Lousy Hollywood Mom

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lousy Hollywood Mom

There's a little something I've learned about myself over this almost two decade span of mothering.

A Hollywood/Soccer/Pageant/Spelling Bee Mom I am not.

It's enjoyable to see the kids trying different sports and activities, but at the end of the day, I really want to be able to take a long run, soak in a long bath and read a long book.

Never-ending practices tend to get in the way of my introverted evening routine.

Several of the kids have been dancing since they were very small. 1 of 8 found her bliss in being on stage, not overly concerned with following the rest of her dance mates. Simply spinning and expressing the music to her own dance drummer was fine enough for her. All the competitiveness and showcases and trophies and all the rest were simply a non-event.

And then along came 2 of 8.

While she is not a competitive personality, per say, she is very disciplined and is willing to push herself higher, farther and faster.

And after over a decade in the dance studio, it really shows.

As I watch her take dance to the next level, to the competitions and the intensives and the conventions, I've had to rearrange my thoughts on it all. It's not that we have insisted she participate at this level.

It's what she wants.

And so we are along for the ride, facilitating the long nights and cheering at the performances. And while I would still love to have quiet evenings at home, I have picked up on some wisdom along the way, the metaphor of dance as it steps through all of our lives.

Life, like dance, takes discipline.

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2 of 8 pushes herself, goes over and over the steps, willing to practice the same skill over and over. It's a model of where we can achieve and where we can give up to soon. It's all about how high we raise the barre.

Life, like dance, takes flexibility.

dance edit 5

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Discipline, in and of itself, can become static and constraining. Dance requires that discipline be tempered by flexibility. 2 of 8 makes a discipline of stretching, keeping herself limber. I watch her flex her limbs into extreme angles, all in pursuit of the higher jump, the longer line, the flexed foot. And I am reminded that my schedules and routines are best executed when I remain flexible as well.

Life, like dance, takes teamwork.


To see one skilled and beautiful dancer is breath-taking. To see 2 of 8 amongst her peers, to see other girls just as dedicated, just as focused, renews hope in the generation that will follow. In pushing themselves to be better, they create a higher level of performance as a group. And that's one of the sweet lessons of big family life--it simply doesn't work if we don't approach things as a team. While there are times that individual members are to shine, it is the framework of the team that brings community and encouragement.

Life, like dance, has a lot to do with what you do behind the scenes.


While the performances can be breath-taking, it's the heart and dedication that really inspire me. When I see these girls dance on stage and make it all look so easy, I love having the background knowledge of what has gone into it. It makes me re-evaluate those people I admire in my life and my assumption that they just naturally and easily have it all together. But there is equal time and attention placed on preparation. And it shows, in people's lives and in the dancers' dance.

Life, like dance, can be just dang beautiful.


Okay, that's not me at my most eloquent. But sometimes the beauty in life just defies words. And in watching 2 of 8 dance, I see expression of this unspeakable beauty crafted in the turn of a foot, in the position of a hand. The little moments, the little details, all the tiny things that combined make a masterpiece of motion.

So I'm not the most motivated mom. I don't push for the number one slot. I don't have a special shelf for the kids' trophies. I can be quite happy puttering around the house all day, never venturing into traffic to cart children to practices. But when I'm there, when I'm sitting in the stands, standing in the studio, watching and listening and cheering, I always learn something.

These children, these dancers and musicians and soccer players, they have something to teach.

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