with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
I panicked. My neon green T-shirt said “ASK ME!” The bumblebee, the ladybug and I were going to hear about this.
One of the dance recital police ladies approached, pointing at the bumblebee.
“Uh-oh,” said my daughter, the zebra.
“She’s going to need to go to the French-braiding station,” the dance recital police lady ordered.
“Um, I thought French braids or buns were acceptable, no?”
Dance recital police lady frowned. “Not for the actual performance. You’d better get her over to the French-braiding station. Like, now. There’s already a line.”
She summoned the ladybug to stand before her. The ladybug held her ground impressively.
“My mommy did French braids on me,” the ladybug told the dance recital police lady. “But she gave up when it was my sister’s turn because the French braids were too hard.”
The harried dance recital police officer considered this. I chewed my lip. All around us, little feathered yellow chickens and Sleeping Beauties and Cinderellas and jazzy tappers and Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo girls and parasol carriers and monkeys and kissy dolls and hip-hop Baby Beyonces were wreaking havoc, twirling and spinning and tearing their tights and spilling contraband items like Pepperidge Farms Goldfish.
Dance recital police lady decided to let ladybug’s subpar French braids go. She had bigger goldfish to fry. She scowled at me. “Tell her mother no plastic barrettes next time. They catch the light.”
“Will do,” I said.
Dance recital police lady charged off in the direction of the spilled snack catastrophe.
The bumblebee, the ladybug, and the zebra stared at me, as if I would surely know what came next.
“I’m not really qualified to wear this T-shirt,” I told them. “But, um, I promise I’ll do my best today.”
All three nodded. Hannah the zebra beamed. She patted my arm. “You’re doing great, Mommy.”
It was not my idea to volunteer as Class Mom for the annual dance recital performance. I wanted to watch my zebra’s six minutes of fame from the audience, far away from the Sturm und Drang backstage. But when we arrived at the dress rehearsal, we found out that no one from the Intro to Musical Theatre class had a nice unselfish mommy willing to be Class Mom.
The zebra looked hopefully at me, with shining eyes.
“But I spent sixty dollars on tickets,” I sputtered. “So we could sit in the audience and watch you.”
My zebra hung its head sadly.
“Really? You would rather have me backstage?”
My zebra nodded vigorously.
I sighed. What’s sixty bucks between a zebra and her mother?
The duties of Class Mom were to wear the neon green “Ask Me” shirt, as well as a plastic lei, while assisting the class children into their outfits and into stage makeup and the dreaded regulation French braids, pinned up properly in the back. The duties also included General Order Perpetuation, Minimizing Chaos, Wiping Noses, Blotting Lipstick, Lining Up for Professional Pictures, Keeping Dancers Calm, Keeping Dancers Energized, Keeping Dancers’ Underwear Hidden, and Hiding Pepperidge Farm Products. When Miss Nana clapped for everyone to listen, the Class Moms had to clap back in the same rhythm to Show They Were Listening and that it was Time to Be Still.
“You look good in green,” said the zebra, who had brought a lei of her own for me in her dance bag, from her dress-up trunk, just in case they ran out for the actual performance, with a sudden onslaught of Class Mom Tribute Volunteers.
I did my best. I got the bumblebee to the French-braiding station in time. I fastened antennae on both the ladybug and bumblebee. I pinned the zebra’s hooded mane (on top of the French braids my friend Kate had so carefully wrought, thus obscuring them completely from view). The rest of the Intro to Musical Theatre class had other performances first, so it was a relatively easy matter to look after this peculiar red, black, white and yellow herd.
Clap, clap. Clap clap clap. Miss Nana wanted our attention. Showtime for Musical Theatre. We were on.
I slid into the wings with my three charges, now joined by the rest of their class, waiting to go on.
The wings: this is where I used to wait. This used to be my place. I was an actor. Watching a junior ballerina adjust my zebra’s ballet shoes, I realized the torch had been passed, and I was more than okay with that.
Lights down. The zebra, the bumblebee, the ladybug and the rest of the Musical Theatre class scurried onstage and took their places. Lights up. I wondered what the show looked like from my purchased seat, then realized I had the best spot in the house.
I know what they didn’t see. The audience saw no plastic barrettes, no panty lines through tights, no smeared lipstick — just the unbeatable sweetness of ten little girls putting on a show.
My zebra delivered her one line: “I’m not even a HORSE, I’m a ZEBRA!” The crowd laughed appreciatively. The kid, well, she was good. The best dancing, singing, marching zebra you’ve ever seen.
After the show, backstage, I hugged her and told her she was fantastic. “I get to keep the costume,” she said. “Do you get to keep the Class Mom shirt?”
I didn’t. But I didn’t need to.
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