Last year my family made a REALLY big decision.
We agreed to set up a second household in Chicago (about five hours away) so my daughter, Isabella, then a junior in high school, could pursue her passion for dance at Beyond Words Dance Company.
It was a risk; a test of both logistics and faith. But I also felt confident in it. In her.
I’m proud to say now that the journey has been amazing for Isabella, and we are fully happy with this decision to support her dance journey. That journey continues into her senior year in mere weeks. And the path so far has been filled with many gifts beyond the amazing dance training.
It’s a gift of TIME. What a blessing for her to be able to spend quality time and learn lessons from her grandma, who gave up her retirement to be Isabella’s Chicago roommate.
And a gift of INDEPENDENCE. She navigates living independently in so many ways. From laundry to making meals, this quasi-college experience is a major stepping stone.
Plus a gift of PREPAREDNESS. Attending a large school in a large city means growing her self-reliance and responsibility (and driving skills!).
It’s a gift of ADAPTABILITY as well. Learning a new school system with two campuses and a new class and rehearsal schedule means jumping in with both feet.
There’s also been a gift of FRIENDS. Making new ones and appreciating the old ones; she’s learning how to do both with grace.
And of course, a gift of FAMILY. It may seem counterintuitive, but the distance allows her to look forward to spending time with her parents and four brothers. That quality time for us may be limited but it’s VERY, VERY special.
I get a little choked up writing this, because the gifts don’t stop with Isabella. One of the biggest gifts I’m receiving is as a dance mom. A couple of months ago, I got to sit in the audience with other dance families and actually watch a recital for the first time ever!
Now, that might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but I’m pretty sure every teacher and coach out there understands. If you’ve ever miss your own child’s events to help other people’s children succeed at theirs, you know what I mean. It was an awesome feeling to be there for Isabella just as her mom.
And do you know what else was awesome at that show? Isabella enjoyed a surprise visit from some of her biggest supporters, her former teachers from MDU and my mom, her Grammy. To see Isabella see them made my eyes water like crazy. It was a beautiful moment.
This journey has not been without its challenges, but the positives far outweigh them all. I can’t wait to see Isabella’s growth from here as her senior year begins. I feel so privileged to watch her dance through this season of life.
What a gift dance is, for sure. But also? What unexpected gifts dance can bring in our lives!
PS I want to give a special thank you to her new teacher and mentor, Kate Jablonski, and the entire Beyond Words Dance Company for welcoming her into their dance family. Some kids are lucky to experience the love and care of one dance family. Thanks to these amazing people, Isabella gets TWO <3.