spectating participant

January 18, 2009

yet another creative passion…

Filed under: creative, family — suzanne henderson @ 1:57 am

p.s. (yes, I’m putting the post-script first.): I still don’t have time to breathe, 3 months since my last exhalation seems about right.

Several years ago, about six I’d guess, I started talking dance with a dancer friend of mine — we wanted to take some classes in tribal style bellydancing. In fact, I signed up for a workshop in PA, made a skirt, and got all excited to go. The weather or general craziness kept me home, I don’t remember which, I just remember a last minute decision with my friend that we wouldn’t be making the trip. There were a few more attempts at taking a class, but beyond the one random class in Hampden, nothing ever came of this desire for myself.

My friend however went right along with the dancing and before long she was also teaching bellydance. I kept trying to take one of her classes, but life always got in the way — perhaps just as expected for single-parent-college-students without extra time or funds. During this time, another friend also started to take classes, though I was aware of this peripherally through her occasional posts since we also never spoke or really saw each other during this time, or since for that matter. But I recall the tinges of jealously as I saw her progress from the first class or two to a deep induction to the art and eventual transformation to performer and teacher. All along, I’ve constantly thought that if I’d just taken those classes or workshops, I would be where she is now.

I’ve been a member at our local gym for a year now and knew they had weekly bellydance classes. I wanted to at least try one out to see what it was like, but shyness got in the way. By the time I felt I was ready to get past my nervousness, I let a silly thing like pregnancy talk me out of taking the class (well more like morning sickness than the pregnancy). A couple weeks ago, a woman on my local parenting list mentioned that she was going to be teaching a new bellydancing class at the gym. Woot! Here was my chance, but I was still rather timid. I inquired as to the style, mentioning that I was really only interested in the tribal style of bellydance, figuring this would be an easy out of actually attending, but sure enough that is exactly what she would be teaching. I said I would be there and felt excitement brewing.

I think I tried to mention the class to Chris at some point, but it was always the wrong time to discuss upcoming obligations amongst current obligations. In fact, the conversation got pushed off until the night before the first class when I crawled into bed around 2am. I casually mentioned to the minorly-coherent man that I wanted to take a bellydancing class that was taking place the next evening and asked if he could make it home in time so I could go. Somehow that actually worked, perhaps it was late enough to just melt into his subconscious, and at 7pm the next evening, I was on my way to class.

As expected, I loved the class. It was the break out of the house I’d been needing since Sara’s arrival. It was the motivation back into physical movement that my mind-body connection was desperately asking for. It was the exact style of dancing that had been calling to me for six years. I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to take the class 2 nights a week (another instructor was teaching the ongoing Friday night class), but wasn’t sure how I was going to make that work with the baby. I knew I couldn’t ask Chris to consistently make it home early two nights week (lets ignore the fact that I really don’t find 7pm to be *early* at all). So I had to come up with a way to take Sara with me.

I considered asking Alex to come and watch her, but that didn’t really sound like an ideal situation. I knew Alex would hate being asked and I was pretty sure I’d regret asking as well. I debated what kind of bribe I could offer her, but knew that wouldn’t work out for very long. I briefly considered the gym offered childcare but I realized I’ve gotten pretty crunchy and sending my baby off to their care facility sounded like torture (yes, I’m sure it isn’t, but there are many reasons why I thought it would be for a little 5 month old infant!). So, I wondered if I could just take her to class.

I’ve fallen into the wonderful world of attachment parenting and the beautiful art of babywearing. Since Sara’s arrival, she’s spent much of time in a sling or carrier or wrap of some sort. As she’s grown and my confidence has grown, she’s been spending more and more time in a carrier, usually on my back I as I get housework or sewing work completed. So I wondered if I could just wear her during the fifty-minute class.

I jumped online to see if anyone had ever talked about babywearing while bellydancing and sure enough someone has — now, was that really a surprise? The internet also provided a photo tutorial for Alex when she had a dead mouse in hand and was going to skin it for it’s pelt - I thought for sure ‘ask google’ would have turned up nothing in that situation. Either way, the internet provided what I needed to know, it was possible and I figured that if someone else could do it then I could give it a try.

Just a couple days after my first class, I was frantically working on a new wrap carrier that would better coordinate with the bellydance costume (this is still me we’re talking about here, of course it had to coordinate!). I also spent the morning with Sara on my back trying all the different moves we’d already learned and more that I found on you tube, just to make sure my body would cooperate. I was confident I’d have no issue wearing her for the duration of the class and figure it’d be an excellent work out with her extra 20+ pounds to shimmy around. However, I wasn’t so sure that the class instructor would let me wear me in with her on my back.

I was so scared of being turned away, that I timed my arrival so I’d sweep right in as class was starting, hopefully unnoticed. I figured that if I showed up with complete confidence in attending the class and with Sara securely fasted to my back, that no one would say a thing. To do this, I had to get Sara all wrapped up outside in the freezing cold while working around the dancing costume as well. That wasn’t much fun, but it got the job done. I swept into class with full confidence and was instantly the center of attention - so much for sneaking in unnoticed. But, all I got were smiles and Sara got even more — no one said anything negative about her being there. In fact, partway through the class, the instructor even stopped to express her joy at seeing me wear her to class. At the end of the night all I could think was “Wow, I did it!”