We've all seen the drama on Dance Moms, even if it's only from catching a glimpse of tabloid cover stories during grocery runs or gossip stories you scroll by in your Facebook feed. Admittedly, thoughts of over-the-top dramatic moments crossed my mind when we made the decision to let our daughter try competitive dance — and I'm not even a regular viewer of the show. On the heels of a crazy, busy weekend filled with classes and competition, I can say that the dance moms along for the ride on our team are women you'd love to welcome into your own mom tribe. Here's why.
I'm not just talking about the costumes you order at the beginning of each dance competition season. Dance moms can take costumes that might linger in forgotten dress up bins and repurpose them in countless ways. When you get your child's schedule for "March is Reading Month," complete with days like "dress as your favorite character," a dance mom will brainstorm about how to combine parts of several old costumes to come up with the Fern from Charlotte's Web without spending a penny.
Competition schedules aren't always available until days before an event begins. Dance moms might grumble about not knowing whether their dancers will be donning costumes on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon, but being flexible ourselves can help teach our kids to balance planning and spontaneity.
At a recent competition, a handful of moms opted for dinner out while another group hung out by the pool and one mom opted for a bit of relaxation in her room. After a day filled with chaos and noise, dance moms understand that we all recharge in different ways.
Glitter has become the enemy of the parenting world, but dance moms understand how extra embellishments can make a costume ordered from a catalog unique. Embracing a little bit of sparkle, whether its in the form of glitter, rhinestones or feathers, generally brings a smile to your face — even when you're just a little irritated you're still finding sparkles on your floor months later.
Maybe it's overexposure, but dance moms know the ear-worm inducing power of a good beat, and they won't judge you for adding a couple of Justin Bieber songs to your running playlist.
Sure, there are solos and superstars, but a competition team can't be successful unless it's indeed a team. Cheering for teammates and working with other dancers to develop a camaraderie off and on the stage makes for more dynamic performances. Audiences and judges can tell when dancers are enjoying their time on the stage, and being part of a strong team helps everyone have more fun.
There's always at least one mom who knows her way around a beauty supply store better than the people working there. Those moms can help you learn to put gloss on tiny lips, and they can give you a pretty solid opinion about whether or not lash extensions will help you shave a few minutes off your own morning routines.
Moms everywhere know how crazy extracurricular schedules can be. Dance moms understand when an unexpected rehearsal means you're suddenly supposed to be in three places at one time. They'll carpool your child, pick up dinner before meeting at the studio or simply wait with your daughter until you can make it back from another commitment.
Sitting around a dance studio means having the chance to talk with other moms about what's happening on the horizon. Sure, some of what gets discussed could be considered a little bit of gossip — is a teacher thinking about leaving, or a dancer? However, many of the conversations can help plan for future parenting hurdles. There's always a mom with an older daughter letting you know how much of an increase in homework your future middle schooler will face next year.
Take a look at one of the bags a dancer and her mom lug into a competition: needles, thread, extra tights, shoes and enough hair and makeup supplies to get an entire Broadway cast ready for the stage. This can't help but bleed into their regular lives. So, a dance mom is bound to have feminine products, safety pins or anything else you need when you're caught by surprise at a play date or a formal event.
The cost of competitive dance, like so many other sports, can put a dent into a family's budget. Before heading to pick up new tap shoes for your growing-like-a-weed dancer, talk to other moms. You'll find that someone is always willing to hand down gently used shoes and other gear.
Ribbons and trophies are lovely, but the vast majority of dance moms are in it because their dancer loves the sport. As a team, dancers and dance moms tend to spend a lot of time together, which means soon you'll have a team of moms who care about your daughter and her well-being. They'll help tie shoes when dancers are young, remind them to get some protein in their bodies during long days and listen to worries about performances — on stage, in school or in life.
When you welcome a dance mom into your circle of friends, you add a dedicated, caring mom to your support system — and your child's.
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