Proud Mary

Proud Mary

Little Lady went to dance class with me.

I’d call it Zumba, but the teacher – a dear friend of mine – so far exceeds that label that I just call it dance. Dance is powerful. Dance is a place. I am more confident in this place than most others. It’s one of the very few places, if not the only, where I am able to completely break through the barrier, that film – no matter how thin it may be – positioned just in front of me that prevents me from fully offering myself. There is no holding back my potential or any juggling of perceived judgment or insecurity.

We packed Little Lady’s hand-painted tote full of sketchpads and fresh markers. I say fresh markers because it was a single pencil case dedicated only to one type of marker in various shades – all the shades – and not our typical graveyard pencil case crammed with broken crayon bits, half-dried and crumbling markers from goody bags, a stubby pencil, and lint. Why is there always lint? That case is one of the very few organized compartments that exist in this home during an uprooted stage and somehow I feel it holds my sanity. I pause to glance at it before tossing it in the bag. I can view my put-togetherness through that clear plastic window.

She sits on the sideline, her boots on, coat zipped up tight. I invite her to join me but she shyly wags her head “No” and buries her face in her notebook.

I know the dances by heart. I like to look around me and take in the scene. Like a room full of seasoned back-up dancers, mamas of all ages, shapes, sizes and walks are owning their 5’x5′ piece of the hardwood floor. They are on fire. Their bodies are strong. They are beautiful, youthful, and sensual. They embrace every curve and crevice. They are seen and heard and unapologetic. They return to their families, their jobs, and their roles with an easy breath and a secret little flame inside. They are honoring their zing.

I catch Little Lady watching people. Her eyes are widening and there is a hint of movement as her body internally follows along with theirs. When she notices that I’m watching, she gives me a smug smile and goes back to drawing. I finally encourage her, through charades from a distance, to take off her coat and boots. She does. Soon the notebook is off the lap and siting on the floor beside her. She’s scotching nearer.

Between dances, I feel a tug by my side and she’s standing next to me, gripping my hand tightly and twisting back and forth a little. “Are you gonna dance with Mama?” I ask. She nods big. At first, her movements are contained and hesitant. She watches the instructor intently but her smile is wild and free. Soon the rigidity melts, her movements grow, and her hips break the mold to bits. They are unstoppable. She’s no longer looking around her to see if anyone is watching or gluing her eyes on me with that keep me standing look.

Proud Mary bellows out from the studio speaker and I can’t believe this moment exists. Here we are together in this sacred space. We are moving at the edge of our limits flooded with endorphins. She feels it. I feel her. The amount of courage she mustered to be living out loud is impressive. After turning down many invitations, here she was…dancing at the party. We high five, or ten, after each song before I scoop her up and twirl her once around.

This is one of the greatest gifts of motherhood, watching our babes push hard through their personal obstacles, and the beautiful result. Pride and accomplishment exist not based on how “good” you are, but in the fact that you showed up and you danced.

I’m proud of her. I’m proud of me.



  1. this made me cry sweet tears of joy, friend. <3

  2. Keep it coming mama! Your presence, insight and wisdom inspire me everyday! I love the peek into your life since we can’t be backyard neighbors

  3. Beautiful!

  4. Made me cry. I’m so aware of the passing of time… I want to freeze time so I can experience my kids without the crazy hustle of everyday life.

  5. Oh, my heart just swelled a 100 times reading this. So, so great!

Leave a Comment