Not long ago, a girl anonymously passed me in a crowd. We exchanged no words, hardly even made eye contact. But somehow, the ten seconds it took her to cross my field of vision left me with distinct impressions. I remember her walk, her posture, the way every cell in her body bespoke what she was. Her chin slightly elevated in quiet confidence, her arms soft but strong, her footsteps gentle and light. It seemed to me that somehow the discipline of her art had fused with her very essence such that every breath she took broadcast “ballerina” to all within view. And something about it, reminded me of the mothers I know best.
It all begins so very simply; bend, stretch– pliè, relevè. Repeat. A million times. Point and flex. Focus on your spot. Find your center of balance. A million times. Simple motions, repeated endlessly. These exercises become building blocks, tools of divine refinement. Repeated and mixed in infinite combinations, built into ever more complicated moves. Repeat. There will be moments of monotony, even futility. But the true dancer pushes on. Pliè, relevè: through sweat and tears, bloody toes, and aching muscles. All under the deep scrutiny of the mirror; always watching, absorbing, analyzing and reflecting her every move. To truly find success requires support, passion, consistency, courage….and even faith. Then somewhere in the midst of all this, at points impossible to perfectly identify, muscles are sculpted. Postures are formed. And physical grace, rhythmic and musical, is infused. It bonds with the soul and emanates so effortlessly from the body that it becomes an appendage. Beauty is simply part of who and what she is.
I gave birth some time ago, but I am still becoming a mother. Bend, lift, twist. Sing, feed, bathe. Repeat. A billion times. Tell stories, clean messes, change diapers. Repeat. A zillion times. Simple actions compose the active structure of motherhood. Teach all that you know. Be your very best self. Guide, enjoy, prepare. Relax, breathe, encourage, accept. The refining process of motherhood is not so unlike the training of a ballerina. It takes discipline and conscious effort. It takes courage. It requires support. It demands faith. And stamina, to repeat the sequence, in all its subtle refining power, yet again.
Pliè, relevè. Bend, lift, twist: love, help, try. Balancing, focusing, never forgetting the mirror remains, reflecting you, your attitudes, weaknesses, failures, and strengths. It’s not a job, or a passing phase of life. Mothering is a life. And, like any human interaction, an art. Like the ballerina, changes are made somewhere deep in the core of whom and what you are, in the memory of the muscles, the heart, and the spirit. And magically, grace– kind, wise, and sure—accompanies you. It shapes every quality of your expression. As it does for all ballerinas, for my mother, my grandmothers. As it one day will for me. This I believe.