Posted by: Erica | February 20, 2010

Ballet Lessons

It’s hard to give in to full-blown, take-to-the bed depression when you have a lively 3-year-old.  That isn’t to say I haven’t tried.  Last night after work, I met Martin and Ansley at a restaurant for dinner.  When I arrived, they were already 15 minutes into an hour-long wait for a table.  Ansley was down on the floor having a temper tantrum.  I tried time-outs and “talking-tos”  but neither produced an improvement in her behavior.  So, what’s a nerve-shot parent to do?  When the waiter finally came, I ordered her entire meal immediately:  an ice cream sundae with chocolate syrup, Benadryl, and a cherry on top.  Unfortunately, they were out of Benadryl. 

The ice cream worked and I made it through the night.  But not without feeling guilty over my parenting skills as of late.   So this morning, instead of lingering in subconsciousness as I had been waiting all week to do, I got up and took  Ansley to her ballet class.   

While I was sitting in the hall waiting, I wondered if she would someday turn 32 and wonder if her life had turned out wrong.  I wondered if there was something I could do to prevent that.  Does telling our children that they “can do anything they want to do” prepare them for the reality of life?  Maybe it should go, “You can do anything you want to do as long as it’s the right thing, at the right time, and you’re in the right place.”   

This may seem harsh.  But, it’s something to consider.  When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina too.  Most little girls do.  But, geography was a problem.   My mother actually drove me a few towns over to the only ballet lessons in our area, but after a short time of chasing that dream, our teacher moved back to the city.  Living in a small town in southern Kentucky meant scratching things off the list of possibilities early on:  ice-skater, violinist, actress, you get the idea. 

So, do I stay here in a place where Ansley can have these chances?  Is the idea of moving to rural, Midwest suburbia selfish on my part?  Sure there would be advantages there as well–a sense of community and closeness to family to name a few.  But, either way, the decision I make will shape her. 

Time is also a factor.  When she graduates high school, I think my advice will be, “Yes, your dreams are limitless….but, they do have an expiration date.”  For example, I think if Martin could do absolutely anything he wanted right now, he’d go back to vet school.  How crazy is that?  He just spent the last 15+ years getting to this point of having a permanent position in science, and he finally figured out he should have got his DVM and took over his father’s practice.  It seems so obvious to him that it must be painful.  I’d love to tell him, “go for it!”  That’s the advice we all like to give.  But, truthfully, even if I could afford our expenses on my own while he was in school, by the time he was finished he’d be at some people’s retirement age. 

So, here’s the deal.  Most of us (with the exception of a very small few) are all semi-genius.  We are each specially gifted in some way.  The challenge of what to do about it faces us all, and the meter is running.  There is a window of time and choices you make narrow the gap further.  Yes, God has a plan and is trying his best to keep us on course.  But, whether we pay attention to that is still a choice we make.  And, in the end, we need to find a way to make the best of the outcome. 

That’s what I’m trying to do.  I know all of you are worried (or scared, offended, fill in the blank) about me.   I’m so fortunate to have friends like you.  But, while it may seem that my foundations are shaking, I can assure you that they will hold.  More than anything, this is me pushing forward, not stumbling back.  I feel like I needed to become vulnerable as a writer in order to remove whatever block I’ve always had.  You’ll probably all agree that I achieved that (claiming intelligence, admitting to a crush on a punk-rocker–crazy stuff!) I certainly hope I didn’t completely change your perception of me in the process. 

Maybe I’ve turned a corner.  No Green Day music this morning and I shed less tears today.  I even laughed a few times (Martin used gel to spike-up his hair).  Who knows what tomorrow brings?  But, what I learned today is this:  try to stay on your toes and do your best to enjoy the dance.



  1. I can identify with you on so many levels Erica! I really respect, admire and appreciate people who are able to open themselves up for the purpose of healing. I believe we all go though certain things to be able to help others down the road. We cannot help others if we don’t help ourselves first. I always wanted to be a psychologist & that was my 1st major at WKU. I would still love to take more psych classes and some more religious studies classes and I’ve toyed w/the idea of being a Math teacher. But now I have to ask myself if I’d rather do that or start a family. Chris isn’t really doing what he wants to either. One thing is for certain, we cannot judge a book by it’s cover and none of us know what struggles another is going through, so we must all be as patient and understanding as possible and give people the benefit of the doubt. God bless you and your family and I pray this battle be a short-lived one!

  2. You know Erica, you are 1000% correct. Sometimes I worry so much about the meter that I am totally exhausted at the end of the day. I also worry about raising my little girl in a place totally different than mine. She has so many opportunities in Houston, but I wonder if there is a big price to pay for all that opportunity. I think that no matter where you live, there is something you have to give up.

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