When my son was younger, we participated in swimming classes. It required me to be in the water with him, so that meant getting into a swimsuit with other parents and hopping in the shallow water to sing and splash along to the same songs over and over every week. Now, this class wouldn't have been equivalent to hell, rather just below that feeling, if it weren't for the MILF that was also in his class with us--you know that one with the six pack that chose to wear a bikini to Mommy and Me classes every week. So now I was not only hoping my son would somehow develop a Phelps gene just so I wouldn't have to subject myself to body dysmorphia and salt water to the eyeballs, causing a Marilyn Manson effect, but also because I really do not enjoy participating in my children's activities. That 'walk of shame' from the moment you unwrap your towel to when you quickly plunge yourself waist-deep into the water... oh yeah, that is so fun. And who the heck can maintain a fresh bikini line all year long? If it's cold and snowing outside, the high maintenance stuff should be allowed to go into hibernation too.
Some years passed, a new baby was born and I had time to 'heal' from the constant visions of the 6-pack postpartem alien. So recently I had this gran-genius idea to put my daughter into dance class at the fresh, vibrant, bouncy young age of 2.5. I thought, 'Oh! She'll be so cute in her little tutu and it'll be fun to watch her INDEPENDENTLY dance around the studio while I catch up with my super old, super moved-on Kindergartner <still sappy over here>.'
Well, that is not at all how things have panned out. Several weeks in, I am the only parent that has to go into the class shuffling my feet (as my child is strongly attached around the ankles and physically walking into the classroom is not an option), drag my macho 5 year old in with me (repeatedly explaining how sorry Mommy is and how she owes him a large scoop of ice cream---you know, bribery at it's peak), take off my shoes and place them into a large pile of other stranger's shoes (and I forgot my socks AGAIN which means for 30 min I'll be collecting goodness knows what on my already disgusting runners feet), hang my much too heavy bag on the tiny ballerina hooks, and continue to force a semi-smile all while swaying side to side with my 'magic scarf.'
'If you do the steps, she will follow suit. Lead by example, Mommy,' says the teacher. So for weeks, I try. I lead by uncoordinated example. I do all the moves, shake the golden egg to the beat, swing the scarf high in the air, spread my peanut butter with the tips of my feet, leap around in circles, sit on my butt and spin in circles (which, by the way, how this is related to dance, I'm not sure)... and each week my sweet dance moves become harder and harder as my daughter gets more and more attached, physically.
Perhaps that sounds exceptionally harsh that I do not like participating in my children's activities. But I really do not enjoy faking fun. And maybe it's selfish of me to put my sanity above their learning, but in the long run, it really is what's best for the teachers and ultimately my children's survival. This mama is tapping out.
In the years to come I know that my children will not have the desire to be around me nearly as much as they do now (if at all). But I am certain I will have ZERO guilt about my decision to refrain from public humiliation on multiple levels. I'm much better at cheering on my kiddos on their big wheels, for free, while effortlessly sipping on my wine. That, I can do.