In a crazed effort to turn her into the woman I wish I was, I signed Stella up for ballet classes. And although she undeniably prefers dragons, cowboys, witches and the like to the typical little girl obsessions, she loves it.
On Tuesday mornings her smile is a little bigger and her morning chatter is dripping with extra exuberance. She lets me wet and brush her hair with unusual compliance. She recites her "ballet rules" from her car seat.
Don't be a shy girl. Be a super good listener. Do everything my teacher says.
She skips her way up the stairs and greets everyone with the obnoxious salutation, "HI GUYS!! I LOOK SO PRETTY!!!!" From the observer's window I watch her enthusiasm quickly turn to brow-furrowing focus the moment class begins.
Watching a two-year old learning how to do ballet bears a striking resemblance to a baby animal teetering on its legs for the first time. There is an element of sublime cuteness in the which you find yourself making involuntary cooing noises, coupled with that almost uncontrollable urge to rush out and lend a steadying hand.
The child is looking around puzzled at all of these adults, wondering for the first time how in the world everybody got so coordinated. Sticking her little tongue out in fierce concentration as she searches her brain for the control switch to move a certain limb in that certain way. And beaming with pride when she gets it all figured out.
I can't help but see myself in the bewildered face of my little girl. A young mom navigating these waters of early parenthood. Looking around at everyone else thinking, I'm going to have the only kid that still wets her pants in high school. Relentlessly second-guessing my intuition, my mothering abilities, my reactions to things.
Instead of wishing it were otherwise, I'm trying to relish these moments of raw insecurity. Enjoying this slice of humble pie. Knowing that confidence will someday replace bewilderment, the pie will eventually be eaten. These feelings of complete vulnerability never last very long. But today...wobbly as ever.