I always knew it was bound to happen, that another woman would come along and win over my sweetheart with her beauty and charm, but I never expected it to happen so soon, after only four short years into our relationship.
Now, before you start raising your fist in anger at my husband, ladies, take a deep breath. My man is completely innocent. Instead, direct your outrage at my daughter, Violet, for she is the one who fell under the spell of another woman.
OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but trust me, when it happens to you, you’ll understand. From the second my daughter was born, she was a total mama’s girl. Really, all babies seem to have that initial preference for mom, their chubby arms reaching out toward you every time you hand them off to someone else for a few minutes of relief. Even as my girls grew into toddlers and then preschoolers, there was still that unwavering request for, “Mama do it!” when my husband went to help them put on their shoes or as they hid behind the couch with a questionable diaper.
Let’s be honest here, the need for constant attention gets tiring. You might even call the demand from them annoying. You start taking their favoritism for granted. And then, just like that, someone else waltzes into their lives. Someone who is shiny, delightfully kid-free, and blonde.
The summer that Violet turned four, I returned to my childhood passion and began dancing with the Farm to Ballet Project here in Vermont. For me, this was an exhilarating experience, not only to return to the studio after hanging up my slippers decades ago, but also to actually have the opportunity to perform again. I joined the company as a demi-soloist but was cast in a soloist role — the buzzing, bubbly lead bee — for some of the performances. The troupe is made up of local adult dancers who mostly enjoy the art form as a hobby, but that particular summer, they brought in two professionals, a male, and a female, to round out the cast. You can imagine who I shared the bee role with. Yep, who else, the gorgeous, legit-real ballerina, Lara.
As far as Violet was concerned, however, only one of us could be crowned the Queen Bee. I’ll give you one guess who she picked.
My first mistake was enrolling Violet in Lara’s dance camp that June. The theme for the one-week class was “Frozen” and Lara was like the two main-character sisters rolled into one; she had Elsa’s looks and grace and Anna’s sweet and funny personality. Her speaking voice was mesmerizing and her big blue eyes seemed to actually twinkle. She brought in her pointe shoes and spun in a flawless pirouette like the porcelain figurine inside a music box, while a dozen 3- and 4-year-old girls looked on with awe, their jaws actually dropping.
Naturally, Violet fell head over heels for her. Really, anyone who met her fell in love with her and I was no exception. The woman was magical.
Every picture Violet drew, every craft she carefully pieced together, she wanted to gift to her new hero. Even Sabine, who was still deep in the mama-itis stage, followed Lara around, her little face bending back to stare up at all that blonde beauty. Still, I wasn’t prepared for Violet’s reaction when I told her I’d be dancing her idol’s part. There are some things about motherhood that no one tells you about — for me, no one told me that my 4-year-old might one day hurt my feelings.
“Guess what, Violet?” I asked her as we drove home from the grocery store the day before my debut in the role. “When you come to the performance tomorrow night, Mama is going to be dancing the Queen Bee!” I glanced up to peek at her in the rearview mirror, expecting her eyes to light up with amazement and excitement. Instead, her face fell.
“Awww, I want to see Miss Lara!” she whined.
“Oh. Well, Miss Lara is going to be dancing the Farmer,” I told her. Surely, Lara dancing the biggest part in the show would be a good solution?
“But what about Megan?” she worried, concerned that the ballerina who usually plays the Farmer might be left out of the show. This went on for a while until she was satisfied that all of the dancers would be featured in some way.
I drove on in silence, trying to shake off the hurt. My daughter would rather see her teacher in the spotlight than her own mother. I make all her meals, clean up after her, take her to get mani-pedis, kiss all her boo-boos, but she prefers blondie.
“Mama?” her voice snapped me out of my inner mono-rant.
“Do you wish you were the Farmer?” she asked.
It never fails to amaze me how perceptive kids can be.
Was I really jealous of Lara’s relationship with Violet or was I just jealous of Lara? Lara, who achieved her dream of becoming a professional dancer? Lara, who had no children to tie her down?
“Um, maybe a little bit. But I really like dancing the Bee. And I love being your Mama most of all!” I added.
This made her laugh. The following night, she was thrilled once she saw me dancing my solo. She still talked about Miss Lara all the time, but I also became a real ballerina in her eyes.
The last performance of the season, I was scheduled to dance the Bee and Lara was going to be the Farmer. But, when a downpour moved our performance indoors, we had to cut down the show to a few pieces, none of which included the Farmer. With a long ride ahead of her, Lara decided to head home early since she wasn’t going to be dancing anyway. While we all wished her well and hugged her goodbye, I thought about Violet and how heartbroken she would be that she didn’t get to see Lara one last time. Sure enough, Violet immediately asked me about Lara’s absence after the abridged performance.
“Why wasn’t the Farmer in it, Mama? Where’s Miss Lara?” she asked.
“Miss Lara had to go home because it was raining so hard, Boo. But she told me to tell you bye-bye and that she’s going to miss you so much,” I assured her.
She pouted, crawled into my lap, and snuggled into my neck, her hands wrapped tight around me.