I Hope You Dance

August 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

My daughter, Charlotte, loves to dance.
And she has always wanted to take ballet.
But there was a problem–I was over 400 pounds.
I could barely fit behind the wheel of my car.
I was so exhausted all of the time that I went to the doctor convinced I had a disease.
He told me I did.
 I had a hard time breathing.
I had a hard time walking.
I had a hard time living.
But I love my daughter.
And I wanted her to have the same experiences that other children had.
So I signed her up for ballet.
Just the mere thought of going there was exhausting.
We shopped for her leotard and her tights.
It should have been a fun experience.
Instead I grabbed the first one I saw as we rushed to the dressing room.
I had to sit down.
My feet were swollen.
I could barely walk on them.
My back was in so much pain I would lean over onto the cart using it as a walker.
Dressing room benches are very small, aren’t they?
Even for an average sized person the benches in dressing rooms are not very big.
They’re not too sturdy either.
I would try to sit down on one to catch my breath.
It was risky.
My daughter tried on her leotard and the little tutu.
She twirled around .
Isn’t it pretty, mama? Do I look like a ballerina, mama?
The bench dug into me.
I was too big for it.
 Sitting on it provided my back and my knees no relief.
I could hear what she was saying but all I could feel was the pain.
“Yes honey you look great!” as I asked her to please get her clothes back on as quickly as she could because we needed to leave.
 “Should I get a pink one or a black one?” she asked.
But there was no time.
No time for this discussion.
 No time for lingering.
No time for the real making of memories.
 That special moment when you take your daughter to get her first set of ballet slippers.
Only the blinding pain in my feet.
My back.
My knees.
Just hoping I could make it home.
We went to ballet class.
The hallway was small.
 The chairs were smaller.
 It was hard to maneuver in and out of the crowd.
I took up too much room.
We hadn’t gotten there early enough so many of the seats were taken.
 Have you ever noticed when there is a long row of seats people tend to leave one or two in between them and the next person?
This means you end up with a row of people with one or two empty seats here and there.
I cannot fit in one empty seat.
 I can barely fit in two.
I can’t make it down to the end of the hallway.
So I stand.
I watch other moms as they squeeze into the remaining seats.
Their daughters hop onto their laps and the moms help them put on their ballet shoes.
I’m amazed at how they can do this.
Hold their daughter on their lap while putting on a ballet slipper.
I don’t have a lap.
It disappeared years ago.
My daughter has to sit down on the floor and put on her own ballet slippers.
I lean against the wall hoping that my knee doesn’t give out.
Finally a teacher appears out of a classroom at the end of the hallway and calls for the new students to come to class.
Most of the parents walk their daughters down the hallway and into the classroom to peek in at this new world.
But the hallway is long and there is a crowd.
Even if I had the energy to make it all the way down there, I wouldn’t be able to maneuver myself up through the crowd to take a look anyway.
There’s no maneuvering when you’re over 400 pounds.
My daughter looks at me and says “That’s ok, mama”.
We haven’t said a word to each other but she knows.
She knows I can’t walk down that long hallway.
She knows even if I did I can’t fit through the crowd.
She kisses me on the hand and skips off.
I watch her disappear into the classroom for her first ballet class.
I watch alone from the other end of the long hallway.
Leaning against the wall with the excruciating pain in my back and feet overtaking me
I see other moms slipping in to take a few pictures.
They slide past the others and fit into that tiny corner where they can just snap that picture for the scrapbook.
 “My daughter’s first ballet class” they’ll probably write in big block letters above the picture.
I make my way back to the parking lot.
I’m not leaving.
I’m just going to sit in the car for the next hour because I don’t fit in the seats.
After three days of dance class, Charlotte announces she hates it
This is a shock
She has always wanted to be in ballet
I thought she would love it
She wants to quit and I let her
Because it was killing me physically to get her there
But last month my daughter confided in me
That she had lied
She had seen the sweat pouring down my face as I struggled to walk from the car to the dance studio
And it concerned her that I had to go back to the car because I could not fit in the seats with the rest of the parents who were waiting
So she lied
She told me she didn’t like it and wanted to quit
Because she knew I was in pain
And that hurt her too
She sacrificed her dreams for me
When I heard this, I cried
I cried for that 6 year old littel girl
Who sacrificed her own dreams of being a dancer
For me
But a new day has dawned
We signed her back up for dance class
And this time we shopped for our leotard and ballet slippers
And took all the time in the world
She said “Should I get pink or black, Mom?”
And we tried on both
Because it didn’t matter how long we spent in the store or the dressing room or on our feet
Because I can handle it
My shopping cart is not  a walker
And when we showed up at dance class
I fit in the seats
And we both smiled wide when we realized
I HAVE A LAP!!!!!!!!
So she sat on my lap and we put on her ballet slippers
Glancing down the hallway at the space where a 6 year old little girl had to sit on the floor alone to do this
Because her mother couldn’t fit in the chairs and had no lap
And when they called her into the class
We walked down the long hallway together hand in hand
And I fit in the crowd
And I looked in the classroom
And waved at her
No sweat pouring down my face from a hallway that felt like a marathon
I took pictures for the scrapbook
And then I sat down in the chairs next to all the other parents to wait
Not in my car because I couldn’t fit
I looked around at the other parents
Reading books, on their phones, chatting
And thought “I’m really here”
Sitting in this chair…fitting….waiting….
How amazing
When my daughter came out of dance class, her eyes lit up when she saw me sitting there
And she ran into my arms
As we walked back to the car, I asked her
“Did you like it?”
And she said
“I loved it, mama.   It was my dream come true”
I smiled
And as we drove home, Charlotte started to laugh to herself
And I asked her “Why are you laughing?”
And she said “I’m just so happy, Mama.  I guess my smile is spilling over”
So we both laughed
And she said…
” Mama, even though I didn’t tell you….I never gave up on my dream.   I knew one day I’d dance again.  But you had to find your dream first.   Because  it’s no fun having your dreams come true alone”
Oh how I love my sweet Charlotte
Sometimes she has a way with words
Her dream was to dance
But there was no joy in her dream coming true
When she saw the pain I was in
So she waited
For my dream to catch up to hers
Now both of our dreams are coming true
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Taryl August 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm

What a precious treasure she is!
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Losing The Rolls August 9, 2013 at 12:01 am

Holly, this post has me crying. I can feel the emotion and know how you must have felt. I don’t have any children, which has been my biggest weight related regret. I do have a four year old nephew though and I am worried that I won’t be able to do things with him because of my weight. For one, just walking and finding a seat is difficult just as you described. Another reason is that I am embarrassed to be in public and feel extremely uncomfortable. My biggest fear though, is that I would embarrass him. So far there hasn’t been any events, but I expect them to start within a year or two or three. I want to attend any games or recitals or whatever he might do. I hope I can lose weight so that I can be a part of his life.

I am so happy for you and your daughter. She is one special little lady and this is just another example of how much your children love you. Rejoice in your success and enjoy all of the things you can do with them daily. You have all worked hard and have earned it. You are beautiful Holly, inside and out.
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Joan August 9, 2013 at 12:30 am

So very beautiful. All of it.


Darlene August 9, 2013 at 3:01 am

Delightful story. Thank you for sharing!


Steelers6 August 9, 2013 at 3:13 am

Pretty sure *I* won’t be the only one shedding a tear here. And my tears were without even watching the video/listening to the song “I Hope You Dance”, because I always get teary or a lump in my throat just from that song!
Your daughter is so precious. What a tender, sweet, heart.
Such an interesting glimpse into your past life and present life.
Dance on, darling Charlotte.


Paula August 9, 2013 at 3:19 am

Beautiful, precious girl both inside and out. Your pictures are wonderful!

I am trying to turn back into the person who Danced… love the song.


Bambi Junge August 9, 2013 at 5:49 am

YOUR AMAZING! So proud of you!


Heather C. August 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I got teary eyed reading this! You’ve changed not only your own life- but that of all your children as well. NOTHING tastes as good as this feels, and I know that for sure.

My heart broke for the woman you saw who couldn’t help her daughter. I have faith that you were kind enough to take some pictures of her bundle of joy for her.


Barbara Bennett August 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Wow, Holly, you have the most incredible gift of putting your thoughts and emotions into writing for the rest of us to read while holding our hands over our hearts! I’m so happy to know that you and your children are living your dreams. You’re an inspiring and courageous woman!


sunnydaze August 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I’m so happy for you and your daughter both and that neither one of you ever gave up on your dream. You’ve raised a daughter that’s beautiful inside and out 🙂


Giovanna August 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

This is beautiful, and had me crying. My daughter is in ballet and your words brought up a lot of emotions in me. You are such an inspiration!


Dawn Alexander August 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm

This story reminds me of the days my son played football and I would hide in the first row of the stands near the entrance so people would not see me sweating and out if breath. Praise Jesus for my life altering experience before his senior year. I felt like I was actually a part of it rather than a shadow. So happy for you and what an amazing daughter you have for speaking up. Such a great lesson for her as well.


Tess August 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Oh my, what a sweetie she is!! <3 Love her!!


Amanda August 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

*snif*……where is that kleenex?

Bless you, Charlotte. Dreams do come true!


Valerie August 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Holly, you have the most thoughtful, beautiful children. This post had me biting back tears at my desk. :’)


Pam August 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Oh my goodness, your Charlotte is a beautiful child–inside and out! She has learned such compassion and has such a caring attitude. If nothing else was gained from your years of obesity, your children have learned to treat others with kindness and respect and to not judge based on appearance.

I had a dream of taking a daughter to dance class after raising three sons, and all of them participating in every sport known to man. I yearned to have a daughter I could do girly things with and dance class seemed so feminine and sweet. So I waited, and my dream changed to perhaps someday taking a GRANDdaughter to dance class. But I could have never taken my granddaughters to dance class had I not lost 170 pounds first. Like you, I didn’t fit anywhere, nor could I walk without terrible pain and excessive breathing and sweating. I too used a grocery cart as a walker to help support me when I shopped.

But last September I knew my time had arrived. One-hundred-seventy pounds lighter, and able to walk great distances and leap tall buildings in a single bound (not really but I feel almost like Superman!) I enrolled both my sweet 3-year old granddaughters in dance class, shopped for leotards, tutus and ballet slippers. Every week for the last year, I went and picked them up and took them to dance class, delivering them home afterwards. This required physical effort and exertion that I was not capable of before my weight loss. Part of the shopping for dance attire involved a special dance supply store located on a busy street with no close-by parking. I had to park at least a block away, which really is nothing….but as we both know….is an insurmountable distance to walk when you are like we were.

It was a wonderful year spent with beautiful little ballerinas dancing, twirling and spinning, and culminated in their lovely little dance recital in June. DREAMS can come true!!! We are PROOF!
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Shay August 10, 2013 at 3:08 am

Dear God, Holly, TEARS!! I’ve said it before about your stories and writing, and I’ll say it again: PROFOUND.
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Lea August 10, 2013 at 3:29 am

At work.
Reading this.

Your daughter is so precious I just want to hug her and you both 🙂

Thank you for sharing.
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Robyne Jane August 10, 2013 at 4:24 am

You have raised such beautiful children Holly. I know how sad Charlotte’s confession must have made you feel, but look how strong you are now. And what a powerful reminder to never give up and never go back. I read your whole blog over the past few months. You are an inspiration to me. I have lost 20kg out of 100 kg to lose, and every single day I think if you can do it I can to. Thank you. xxx


Brooke Eve August 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Wow! The photos are excellent! You inspire me to go and continue my weight loss journey. I loved all the photos. There’s no impossible with self determined, focus and self discipline. Thanks for sharing.


annamarie August 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

We are so blessed with our children and your sweet Charlotte is such an angel. I am so happy she went back and that this time the experience was wonderful for both of you. You are raising such fantastic young people. Something you must be mighty proud of.
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Lorenda August 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm

This is such a precious story! I am so happy for you and your daughter!


robin August 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Im so happy for you both. Isnt life just so much sweeter now?


Kelsey August 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

What a wonderful daughter! To think that a young child is capable of such sacrifice and love. She’s going to grow up to be an amazing person!


Bridgett August 15, 2013 at 2:20 am

How wonderful! Your daughter is indeed kind and sensitive to have
recognized how hard it was for you. I hope BOTH of you continue to enjoy her dance classes.


Mrs. Swan August 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm

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