articles by Jackie Zimmerer
For the Love of Dancing
Having four sons, I've spent my fair
share of time doing things I never considered BC (before
children.) These activities include attending numerous
events, the purpose of which to teach youngsters to
determine the quality then rank the offered specimens in
the order of their appropriateness according to a given
set of standards: some of the things my boys have judged
over the years include hay, goats, sheep, heifers, and
even lengthy evaluations of the south bound end of north
bound dairy cows.
There have been hours spent sitting on less-than-comfy
bleachers, chairs, or simply standing while watching
games, plays or other events. Lately I've been sending
my family off on Sunday afternoons to a friend's house
as the handful of older boys taught younger kids how to
use a welder all the while building a 5' X 10' trailer
to raffle off for Relay for Life.
But one Saturday afternoon in late May I decided to do
something completely out of the ordinary...for me at
least. That day I attended the Cooke County Ballet
Academy's yearly recital.
The stated purpose of my presence was to take pictures
for our Homeschool yearbook. After all, I felt I needed
a "reason" to attend something my kids weren't
performing in. It took me quite a while to convince
myself that it was okay to go watch to the dozen or so
kids I knew who were to perform; I even had to throw in
the fact that two of the teachers are also friends.
But I have to admit that there was a much deeper reason
I wanted to be there. While I wouldn't trade my
testosterone laden teens for anything in the world, part
of me needed to be reminded that some moms get to attend
activities that don't come with the smell of sweaty
boys. Oh, yeah, there's also the fact that this
overweight, out-of-shape, middle-aged mom used to love
As I entered the auditorium and chose an aisle seat
towards the back, vague memories of mirror lined walls
and Charlotte, my teacher when I danced as a young girl,
made me smile. Was that really thirty-five years ago?
Throw in the conflicting emotions about how strange it
felt to be at a girl-thing after twenty plus years of
raising boys and somehow I expected to feel
uncomfortable. But oddly I felt as if I belonged in the
I noticed that there were still seats closer to the
action, but since I didn't have a child on stage, I
decided to let those who had spent months ferrying kids
to lessons and rehearsals fill the front, reasoning that
I didn't have an emotional stake in the afternoon of
For once I was there simply to enjoy the show.
Soon the lights dimmed and the opening number began. I
found myself delighted as the group of older girls,
resplendent in their costumes, performed and I happily
picked out the half dozen or so teenagers I knew.
Then the program moved to the wee ones. The first
troupes of tiny dancers wore pastel tutus that seemed
larger than the occupants of the gathered tulle circles.
I watched with that specific tilt of my head and "awww"
expression that comes at the mere sight of anybody that
Group after group of miniature performers proudly showed
off (with varying degrees of accuracy) the results of
months of practice. During one number, a little pre-schooler
stood frozen to the spot with a tiny finger in her
mouth, staring at the audience, stage fright taking it's
toll while the dance went on around her.
A couple of groups later a purple-clad tot fell, landing
on her little backside. Embarrassment washed over the
tiny darling who then stood up and cried for long
seconds, before leaving the stage.
But it only took a moment until the little waif
reappeared from the wings and assumed her place. As she
did the crowd gave her a round of applause. With all the
innocence only a small child can portray, she stood,
tears replaced by a beaming smile as the girl looked at
the delighted audience and clapped with us. Her
classmates never missed a step.
The cute-o-meter pegged on that one, friends.
Watching this scene, suddenly tears came to my eyes. A
little part of me was crying for the oh-so-precious
dancers, but, truth be told, part of me was deeply
experiencing the feelings that are a result of the fact
that I've never had a daughter. Another, very secret
section of my heart that I almost dismissed was
remembering how wonderful it felt to dance.
But my sad reverie didn't last long. How could it when
wave after wave of dancers filled the stage? I couldn't
stand to be morose when such beauty filled my vision.
No, these little ones weren't mine, and I'll never have
a daughter, but I found myself delighted all the same.
Besides that, I wouldn't trade my boys for all the dance
lessons in this world.
Well, most days anyway.
Nearly two hours had flown by when suddenly an
unexpectedly costumed teenager appeared on stage,
followed a few measures later by her teacher and several
other students. I wish I knew the terminology to
describe the graceful moves that were being played out
in front of me but words alone could never effectively
You see, that first young lady was in a motorized wheel
A look of delight transformed the student's face as she
instructed the six-wheeled machine to dance with the
music. She was radiant, for, at that moment she was a
Even though her body remained restricted to the device,
her heart conquered her disability as she coaxed her
chair to do pirouettes and move gracefully to the
choreographed routine. Sometimes she required a bit of
help from Stephanie, her teacher, but always the girl
held her head high, remaining the star of the stage.
The whole crowd was mesmerized; for that couple of
minutes infirmity disappeared and endless possibilities
emerged as the performers moved gracefully. The teenage
girl whirled and gracefully glided in unison with the
others to the strains of music...and my heart was
forever captured by one beautiful dancer in a wheel
All too soon the recital was over allowing Moms and
dance teachers to heave a sigh of relief. It seems
anticlimactic to report that the yearbook pictures got
taken, one of my best friends experienced the joy of
watching her five year old Granddaughter on stage and
the rest of the performances were delightful.
As I walked toward the stage to find and congratulate
Stephanie, several of the young girls were being
presented flowers by their admirers. My heart, already
uplifted by the events of the afternoon, received
another boost as two of the youngsters in our homeschool
group proudly showed me the bouquets of wildflowers they
received, picked and presented by the greatest admirer
these young girls could ever imagine: their Daddy.
That day, part of me realized that I don't have to avoid
girl-stuff...having a daughter isn't a prerequisite for
enjoying the feminine things of this world. In addition,
the Lord added another chapter to the "I don't have to
be perfect to enjoy life" lesson: tiny dancers in pastel
circles of gathered tulle, youngsters in multicolored
costumes, a teenager in a motorized wheelchair and a
middle aged Mom who has raised four sons all have
something in common: the love of dancing.
Copyright 2004 by Jackie Zimmerer
Jackie and her husband, Albert, have four sons, ages 21,
17, 16 and 14.
For information on having her speak to
your group, Parish, or conference on issues that
affect Catholic Moms/Wives or about Homeschooling,
email Jackie at