I'm moving slowly this morning, and my boys are still sleeping at 10:30am. It is the morning after a long stretch of Nutcracker time and we're all sleepy (including Papa who has juggled the home front on his own). I think I feel as tired as though I were on that stage dancing all those shows myself, though of course I wasn't. Who knew that driving, applying makeup, fitting costumes and handing out props could be so exhausting? But it is, and I remember this feeling from each year prior. But I think the real exhaustion comes from a slight holding-of-breath that we do as Mamas (and Papas and friends) in the wings, backstage, and in the audience. Holding our breath that all goes well, that no one falls, that no one drops the girl (the first rule of dancing for boys!), that our children feel pleased with their performance, that they feel supported by their peers, that they can end this run feeling confident, strong, and happy with what they've done.
This year, I watched Ezra step into the role of Fritz, a new role for him, one which he brought all of his theatrical presence to, and carried the role beautifully - and differently - than his brother did before him. And I watched as Calvin was presented with a new role just days before the first show, and rose the occasion with just two rehearsals, and a calm and quiet confidence that made me so proud. The breath-holding, finger-crossing doesn't just happen for our own children though, but for them all. I found myself many times with my hand on my chest and a lump in my throat - and sometimes tears in my eyes - as I watched someone else's child on stage. We are all watching all of these children grow - we've seen Fritz grow into the Prince, for example, and know the hard work, dedication, injuries and struggle that each one of these kids puts into this passion of theirs. The things they give up so that they can do this fully. And I guess that's really it - the passion is an amazing thing to behold. As Steve and I sat together in the audience this weekend watching, he leaned over and whispered, "these are the boys that wrapped themselves in tinfoil for days at a time." Yes, they are! And so are all the other two hundred dancers on that stage, be it tinfoil or tutus or whatever their case of early childhood dress up and theatrics may have been. And here they are now, still as children, but on a stage with a live orchestra, in front of two thousand people day after day, doing what they love. All of them. Ah! I had goosebumps at that moment thinking of all that combined youthful passion, and even this morning, feel a wonderful lingering joy for and pride in each and every one of them.
Someday, I know, I will not be spending my October and November days in those wings. (Though I do think I've got a few more years!) But I hope that I'll continue to always carry the sounds of Tchaikovsky in my head and the corresponding feeling of joy in my heart that I know right now. All thanks to the Nutcracker (and two very special boys).