A little over twenty-four hours ago both Macyn and Truly had taken their final bow at a dance recital that was about so much more than dance.
I’ve been processing the events of last night and have shared a few of the highlights with some of our friends and I know I want to write about it so I can always remember, but the magic which took placed that was mixed up with the music, the lights, the sequins, the laughter and the tears, is difficult to put into words.
I could share with you about how this was my middle daughter Truly’s first dance recital and how the morning of, before getting out of bed, she told me she wanted to quit. She said she was too scared to go on stage and dance, and I told her it was okay to be scared but Avis’s don’t quit. Then, with butterflies in her stomach she went up on that stage, three different times, and danced her heart out as though she had done it one thousand times before, beaming with pride when she ran into my arms at the end of the show.
Or I could share with you about how, in stark contrast to last year, Macyn proceeded with so much confidence and success during both of the dress rehearsals, I made a plan with her dance instructor to make sure she would have the supports she needed to be without me backstage, and then on the night of the recital I left her in a dressing room with a few dozen girls and I went to SIT IN THE AUDIENCE! Then when it came time for her first routine she marched her sweet little self out there, covered in purple sequins and danced her heart out while I sat and wept. Tears of joy and pride. Last year I would not have felt comfortable leaving her to navigate all the specifics involved in getting her on the stage successfully and on time. She had come so far in a year…we both had.
Or maybe I should share with you about how everything started to fall apart a bit for our Macyn during intermission. How I went back to check on her and, because I know my girl so well, I am guessing it was the combo of the fact it was two hours past her normal bedtime and she had not eaten in a while combined with the normal stress from the sensory overload an experience like this entails, which lead her to refuse to put on her costume for the second act, (until finally she did), and then her minor melt-down followed by her epic recovery. It’s tricky because there are not really words to adequately describe the ins and outs of how she ran off the stage in a tearful panic, seconds before she was supposed to go on, and then how, while I was pulling out every trick in the book to help her recover, Alison, the head of the dance studio, did a last minute change up in the order, once again bending and flexing so Macyn could be successful and fully included, until we got her backstage again and she went out on stage and slayed her routine. How every time I think “we’ve lost her” and she is too far gone emotionally and too stressed out to go on, she recovers. Every. Single. Time.
I could share with you about how much I have had to hold this week as I helped Macyn successfully navigate the ups and downs of a recital week and the emotional toll it takes on me to set her up for success, over and over and over again. Or how, during all those hours in the dressing room and backstage, my mama bear heart ached as I watched her try, unsuccessfully, to interact with her peers. And then how my heart swelled when a friend finally stepped in and made the extra effort needed to connect with Macyn in a meaningful way.
But, while monumental and significant, none of that is the focal point I really want to share or remember about last night. The thing I want to remember, the whole point of it all really, is how all of the events from last night; the magical and the difficult, the tears and the cheers, were all given a chance to come to fruition because someone saw the ability in Macyn.
Two years ago, when I sent an email to Alison letting her know my daughter has Down syndrome and asked if she had any questions, little did we know how our lives would change. You see, when Alison heard about Macyn, when she read the words, “Down syndrome” her first thoughts were not about if Macyn would have the skill set needed to do the moves required of her, or about if her behavior would impede her time in class. She did not wonder if her lack of clear speech or evolving social skills would make the other students in the class uncomfortable. And when it came time for the recital she did not think about putting Macyn in a lower class or setting her off in the back corner so her lack of balance and difficulty staying in formation would not distract from the routine. No! While all of these things may at times be true about Macyn, the thing Alison saw when she looked at my daughter was her ability. And here is the thing my friends, when we look at last year’s recital, a recital Macyn did amazing at, and then we look at this year’s recital, the amount Macyn has grown is spectacular. Her confidence, both as a dancer and in herself is breathtaking.
Friends, isn’t this what we all want for our kids and for ourselves, for people to see the ability in us? Because the truth is, when we see the ability in someone we offer them an opportunity for authentic growth.
In three days we will move to another city and have to say good-bye to Alison and her dance studio. While this is breaking my heart I also know we leave changed…not just as better dancer, but as better humans, and isn’t that what this is really all about?