Last night, my daughter had her first dance recital. She was quiet on the way there, and willingly offered that she was nervous about performing in front of people. I get it - performance anxiety is incredibly real for me, the "what if I suck?" loop running on repeat.
I turned to face her, sitting slightly hunched in her seat, and said something like, "The fact that you're going to perform is so, so brave, Isla. I'm already so proud of you. All you need to do is dance so it feels good. And try to have fun. Really - you and your friends, you're all just so brave."
After the first segment of the show, she rushed over to me in tears. I hugged her and kissed the top of her head, whispered to her, and she scurried back to sit with her classmates.
This process repeated itself after each portion of the recital, with each teary visit to my arms growing shorter and shorter. And after her last act - walking across a beam, balancing, and jumping off, she looked at me, wavered, and instead of coming for me, headed for her spot on the floor.
Then she looked at me and smiled.
Afterward, I told her how inspiring she'd been. "You just did something that felt really scary to you. You felt scared and you did it anyway. Isla, GOSH am I proud to be your mama."
I've taught my daughter - and I hope to pass the same lesson on to my son as he grows - that she can do scary things. That she'll survive discomfort. That taking a risk is completely worth it when you have love to run back to.
She was vulnerable last night, publicly vulnerable, and when I went to congratulate her, I was blindsided by this:
If she can do it, so can I.
Heaps and heaps of love,