Ballerina Confession

When I was about five years old, I desperately wanted to be a ballerina. I watched a cartoon, I can’t recall now, where a little girl was dancing with her dog. She was in a pink tutu and ballet slippers, and she was spinning around and around in a circle. My grandfather was alive at the time and living in our small apartment with us. He was fighting terminal cancer, though I didn’t know what that meant, and he was wheel-chair bound, with one arm already lost to the disease.

He sat, day in and day out, in his wheel chair, or in the big, brown chair in our living room with the wooden arms. He sat and he watched television, whatever was on, though he had his favorites, like Price is Right. My mom would cook breakfast, and lunch, and dinner for my grandpa and me. She would wheel him into the kitchen to eat. She would wheel him into the bathroom, move him from the chair to the toilet. She would bathe him. My sister and my mother would carry him up the flight of stairs from our basement apartment to get fresh air on nice days. I would watch television with him. That was my job.

The day we watched the spinning girl and her loyal dog, I jumped up and pretended to be her. I danced around my grandfather, whose toothless grin gave me the confidence to spin on my toes. He clapped his hands and told me I should be a ballerina. I agreed with a smile.

Then in the spring my grandfather died.

In the summer my neighbor said I was too fat to be a ballerina.

In the fall, we moved to a new house, I started kindergarten, and forgot about my dream.

I’ve done that from time to time. Forgotten about a dream. A goal. I’ve let people tell me what I’m capable of, and what I am not. I’ve been doing it again, as of late. Letting strangers, mostly, tell me what I am capable of and what I am not. What my limits of talent are. Where my lane is, and how I should best stay in it. We fall back into old patterns. We do what feels most comfortable. What we learned as children. How we learned to cope.

It’s only human nature.

M.

5 thoughts on “Ballerina Confession

  1. This is such a touching story. My daughter Amy faced the same thing. And so I bought her a pink tutu, which she wore everyday, even to the store! And I had her take ballet lessons, which she loved! And she danced her heart out for several years until she was ready to put her tutu away. Never give up on your dreams. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      • Amy is awesome… she’s a mommy herself now. 😉 I’m a firm believer that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it and I always tell my four girls that. But we also need encouragement along the way. I never had the luxury of being able to take dance lessons myself. My mother couldn’t afford such things for me, and I couldn’t afford them for my girls either. So in exchange for free dance lessons for my girls, I cleaned the dance studio every week. I’m just glad I found a way for them to experience something that I never had the opportunity to do.

        Liked by 1 person

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