When I showed Lily these pictures she loved them. “Mom, this is you dancing. These are so cool. can I show my friends? You should dance again”.
When I showed Thomas these pictures he said: “THIS is you? YOU can do THAT? This is my MOM?”
He couldn’t believe it was his mom jumping in the air in double attitude, 9 months pregnant… 38 weeks pregnant to be exact.
Lily remembers me as a dancer. She used to come on tour with me, she would come on set when we did shows, she would hang out at rehearsals and backstage and watch from the wings.
Thomas doesn’t know me as a dancer. He knows that I used to dance and I have led a few toddler dance classes for him and his friends but he hasn’t seen the full dancer mom that I used to be.
I took these photos for me. Not for anyone else but for me. For me to remember what a bad ass I used to be and STILL am! Something happened when I became a parent with Lily all those years ago and it just kept getting worse when we had Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, I love these little dragons more than anything and my life is immensely richer because of them but I also lost who I was in the process.
I lost my entire dance career is one big blow and I grieved this for years. I think just last year maybe… just maybe I finally was able to actually talk about it and say … I used to be a professional dancer and choreographer. It just hurt too much to identify as Just A Mom. I know, I said the taboo… Just. A. Mom. because as mom’s we are SOOOOO much more than that. Thus these photos!! We ARE much more than just mom’s… but do we remember that? I didn’t. For years I had lost touch with that part of who I am. The artist, the creative force, the person who I identify with. The MOM would take over and consume every single part of my being. From the moment I woke until the moment my tired exhausted body would give in and fold into the bed late into the night, I was a MOM. I just didn’t know my identity. Yes, I was functioning and working on creative projects but it was always under the MOM umbrella. I was always the MOM first and then the creative force second. And these two identities fought constantly.
We are about to have a baby any day. I am 39 weeks official today. And I know I am going to slip back into the fog of motherhood for some time. But right now, right now, I have clarity and I just want to remind myself that I am strong and I have this whole other person inside who is just waiting to bloom and adds richness and color to this sweet life we have created. And I want to remind any of you who need it too… you are still in there and the feeling of drowning and feeling lost in motherhood is seasonal and the fog will lift and you too will find your identity once again.
There is no shortage of articles being published every day about the strength of mothers and the sacrifices. But I rarely see this play itself out in real life. I don’t get daily assurances from my kids, I don’t have a sign every day that says… you are a supermom and awesome. It’s lonely and dark sometimes and the daily routine can eat your brain and your creative energy. I have to do this for myself. I never took any dance pictures when I was pregnant with Thomas so I figured why not now. Let me just go for it and have these images as a strong reminder that THIS IS ME. I’m not Just. A. Mom.
These photos are untouched and celebrate how my body has moved and changed through the years. I celebrate me today. And I hope you can celebrate you as well. I know I’m going to slip back into the doldrums of motherhood and the loss of identity is going to hit me hard… but right now and today… I feel good about who is still in here. I am happy to know that she comes out sometimes to make some great dance and art and bring creativity to this thing called motherhood.
My dear friend Gil Vankin took these photos. His work is beautiful and he is a very calm, collaborative, and creative to work with. I was very nervous taking these pics and he was able to capture moments I would never have discovered were within. thanks, Gil! Please swing by GIL VANKIN PHOTOGRAPHY to check out his work.