Can a mom go back to ballet?

BY Melissa Gerstein

Every Saturday I take my daughter to ballet and it’s bitter sweet. She kisses me goodbye and skips into the room. My heart aches and beats fast as I sit and watch her class. In the room next door, there’s also a class but the room is full of adults. The piano plays all the old beautiful classical music I remember from my youthful days as a dancer. I sit there feeling jealous of everyone in a leotard as I sit on a bench and wait for my daughter to come running out to me.

Why can’t I take a ballet class anymore? Every week I say to myself that I will try to take ballet again, so what is stopping me?. Is it because I can’t bare to see myself in a leotard or is it because it pains me to be so close to my youth and that is forever gone? Or could it be that I am just petrified to rediscover my old self? Why don’t I just get a home dance floor?

Is it that once you become a mom you have to morph into the role of “Mom” and throw away old dreams and passions? Does it come down to time? Well, I don’t think it’s applicable to everyone. I know mothers who make time for what they are passionate about. One of my close friends, for instance, enjoy her time alone ballet dancing at her private dance floor. I remember being in awe watching her practice near her beautiful circle windows that pour in warm sunlight. The scene looked straight out of a movie, and for a minute I wished I were her. But, I am not sure if I have her time management skills, I do have three children and a husband and work. Or is it that three pregnancies and deliveries leave me and my body feeling inadequate at times?

I personally believe that when you transition into a mom, you lose a part of yourself. With that loss, we have to rediscover who we are after putting everyone else first.

But last week I had an awakening, I couldn’t take the self-torture anymore. My husband could not stand hearing my excuses. I knew I could not go on feeling like this and I was craving to move like a dancer again. Initially, I thought I would find a dance pole for home use and practice on it to improve my flexibility. But then I stumbled upon my old ballet slippers in my closet and that made me realize it’d be better to brush up my ballet skills instead! So with a nauseous stomach, I walked in, registered for a class, and found a spot at the ballet bar.

I was concerned about how my post-baby body would handle the positions and steps. Ballet is unlike any other form of exercise in my opinion. Just ask Natalie Portman who had to train for a year to tackle Black Swan. I knew that I would spend the next day limping as I reminded myself to take it easy.

It took a moment for my muscles to remember every tendu and plie’, but after ten minutes there was a rhythm in my body coming back. It was magical. I felt like I was 16 as long as I didn’t look in the mirror.

I wondered if there were other mothers in the class as I looked around. Had they too sacrificed their personal dreams and first loves too after becoming a mom?

Someone once told me that becoming a mom will be about sacrifice. But why? We normalise this system of glorifying self-sacrifice that is a parcel of motherhood. The sad part of all such narratives is that some women lose their confidence in this personal journey. Women can try boudoir photoshoots during their maternity period to boost body confidence. Carmen Salazar Photography (a Bay Area boudoir photographer company) or similar service providers can help excepting mothers change their perspective of saggy bodies and become accepting of their natural beauty.

Someone in your home including yourself will get sacrificed every day. This might be true, but in no way will I let Saturday mornings at 10am be sacrificed anymore. This mom is rediscovering herself through ballet and it feels great even if I cheated the leotard and opted for yoga pants and a tank.