surviving the early weeks, or: pizza feet.

Nearly two months have flown by since Jenna's birth, which I have to confess, feels different than it did the first time around. With Mari, time seemed to move slower. It was just the two of us - and there were days when that was scary, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing - not that I really do now. But, in hindsight, that time was such a gift.
With a big sister in the house, we don't have a lot of quiet moments, but that keeps my brain working in a good way. The second doubt may creep in, I look over at Mari and remember that I've done this once, and I can do it again. Mari also has a remarkable sense of knowing when I need those reminders most, and she usually pairs it with a hug, a look or a big, girly giggle. Just about a month ago, though, she did it with her pizza feet.

If you follow my Instagram feed, you may remember the image above, of my tiny dancer. She started taking ballet and tap when she turned two in July, and repeats nearly the exact same lessons every single week. I get to join her for these classes, in which I have to hold myself back from pointing her toes for her. These classes may be for Mari, but they've taught me about restraint and independence and the joy of watching your child experience all kinds of firsts.

For six months, we've been working on "pizza feet," the official toddler term for first position, which is known as the home base for ballet. I've been watching Mari struggle to understand and then execute this thing called pizza feet, where the instructor asks them to stand with their feet together in parallel, then hold their heels in and point their toes out to a "v," like a pizza slice. For five months, Mari just stood there listening with her feet parallel to each other and didn't move.

About a month ago, in the midst of really, really sleepless nights and that newborn fog that is so hazy, crazy, wonderful and scary, Mari took my breath away. She grew up right before my eyes. When it was her turn to run and leap across the floor, starting in pizza feet, she methodically joined her legs together, looked down at them and then very slowly opened her toes up to a pizza slice. It was like a slow motion, textbook how-to video of first position and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. I teared up.

She connected all those months of instruction and when I needed a pick-me-up most, she did it. Her little pizza feet moment was exactly what I needed to get me from feeling challenged and tired to optimistic and downright joyful. And, every week, as she methodically goes through each step to find her pizza feet, I feel that joy again and again.

I'll keep this in mind as we go on week two of a rough bout with the cough/cold. It hit us, and it hit sweet little Jenna the hardest, but she's on the mend. She has her big sister's pizza feet to thank for helping our family get through our toughest test yet.

I'm so grateful for that silly little dancer. Who, by the way, is quite good when she's not tackling the other girls in her class.


Karen said...

Mari comes by her talent for dance very naturally. Very sweet story, Alison. You're such a good mommy.

mary said...

love, love, love, love this friend!