When I found out I was pregnant, there were certain dreams that I knew I would have to set aside: joining the Peace Corps after graduation, studying abroad – I knew it just wasn’t going to happen.
But there was one dream I wasn’t willing to give up on. I wanted to dance on stage, in front of crowds of smiling, ecstatic people.
Six months before I got the news that changed my life, I saw something else that I thought would be a turning point for my future: Gogos dancing on the stages of Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, dressed up as giant flowers and fruit.
As my best friend and I watched the girls on those giant platform boots perform, we looked at each other and promised that one day we’d do the same. We’d start a team of gogo dancers and perform, getting good enough to one day be up on stage at a major festival.
When I’d finally gotten over the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant, I started to think about all the things that would be different now – the things I’d never get to do. The travel I knew could be put off until later in life, but dancing was the dream that hurt most to think of giving up. It didn’t help that throughout my pregnancy, my friend started working toward that dance team – she was literally living our dream.
I couldn’t bear the thought of her doing it without me. I was still young damnit, and I wanted so badly to dance with my best friend and wear fabulous costumes. And to be able to feel, and live, like I was still as young as my age.
I wasn’t ready to give up that part of my youth, so I made the decision to join the team, and I’ve never looked back.
Performing ensured the preservation of my sanity.
Especially in the first year or two after Skye was born, dancing was my escape. I was a first time 21-year-old single mom, and every second of my day was dedicated to the care of my baby. I started to lose sight of myself as an individual, and saw instead just someone’s mother. There were many times, when Skye was sick or was having a particularly fussy day, that I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder, who is that tired, stressed-out lady looking back at me?
But when I performed on stage for the first time, I felt all the worries of motherhood wash away. It felt like I was myself again for the first time in many months. The weights of parenting were lifted, if even just for a few hours, and I was able to simply bask in the rush of the endorphins performing gave me.
The only time I got a sitter in those first years was for performing. It became my time off from being mommy, my time to feel young again: a feeling I was desperately searching for as I adjusted to my new mommy role.
In the last year or so, I’ve started to realize I don’t need dancing like I used to. I still love performing; traveling and spending time with my teammates who I’ve come to adore and admire, getting to play dress-up and wear crazy makeup and wigs, the rush I still get every time I step on stage. What’s different now is how I feel in between performances.
I still feel occasionally weighted down by my parenting responsibilities. It’s just that at this point I’ve learned that I am capable of handling that weight; I don’t feel suffocated by it anymore.
I will always be a dancer in my heart. But even if my days of dancing in front of crowds are over, I will never look back on my time as a performer with regret. It kept me sane, during a time when I felt constantly on the edge of madness.
Besides, Skye is the most captivated audience I’ve ever performed for, and the only one I really need.