Instead of putting away laundry and baby-sitting a playdate, I spent my Saturday afternoon rehearsing a group dance number for an upcoming burlesque show at a New York City nightclub.
The G-rated performance, to “The Pink Panther” theme, represents what kind of woman I am trying to be — someone who not only has a career she loves and a home and family she loves to nurture, but interests that are her own.
Taking time for myself is a priority for the first time, and it has brought happiness, joy and balance to my life. My girlfriends sometimes come to me frustrated that they need to do the same -- hit the gym, or see live music, or go on a date. With only one child and a supportive spouse who is an equal partner in raising him, sometimes it is easy to juggle all these parts of my life. Sometimes it’s not.
At the rehearsal, I struggled with the solo, which each of us have to perform. I stood in awe at how easily it seemed to come to the others. I am not a trained dancer, or really any kind of dancer, for one thing. I think more than anything, though, a lack of confidence overcame me.
“Take your hair down,” my teacher, Perle Noire, told me. My long, heavy, thick hair — the one I get compliments on almost every day — had been in a bun to stay cool while we dance in the Park Slope studio.
I felt like a different person, free to pose and strut and mug and peel off gloves and twirl around. She told me that I dance better with my hair down. I realized why — when I looked in the mirror at myself, I no longer saw the middle-aged mother who lives in the suburbs but the woman I feel like I am inside. Feminine, vital, dewy and more than just a mother.
When I got in that night, my husband told me that my son said while taking a walk in the neighborhood that he was “homesick." He asked Harrison what he meant.
“I miss mom,” he said.
I put my hair back in a bun and held him tight and spent all day and night Sunday with him. The gloves could wait, and the workweek started the next day anyway.