My happy place.
Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010
This week felt like the longest of my life. For no particular reason other than the typical growth and development of my children. Tantrums, heated debates about screen time, being on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from a 1 year old… I really needed a break. Mom-duty is easily the most challenging, rigorous, joyful, and rewarding work I have ever done . Perspective: I work in critical care and emergency medicine. Mom-duty is WAY harder. Going in to work 12 hour day and night shifts is a BREAK for me. My body and mind cannot usually sustain more than 5 straight days of Mom-duty. (Fist-bump to the single Moms and Dads out there…you amaze me). This week, for the benefit of my liver, I chose to go out dancing to ease my Momitis. There is no better cure in my world for a bad case of Momitis than a night of West Coast Swing (WCS) dancing.
I hear you asking…Why swing dancing? Why not just get some gals together and get my drink on and rock it out at some club? Surely THAT will soothe the most savage case of Momitis?
So here it is: My Top 5 Reasons Moms should take up West Coast Swing dancing:
1) Chat with adults – Behold! Adults to talk to! Adults everywhere and not a child in sight! I can try to fool myself into believing that I am socializing by packing my child’s activty calender with classes and ‘play dates’ but we all know this is just smoke and mirrors. There are still children in the room. There can be no sincere, engaged conversation between adults when your children are pulling on your sleeve asking for more goldfish crackers every 3 minutes. Can you really listen and connect with another parent when you are pulled in two directions?
2) Exercise – There is nothing to describe the glorious feeling of social swing dancing for 4 hours straight (water breaks included!). Give me 90-110 beats per minute with a good dose of 120bpm on the side and I am in bliss! My legs and butt are getting a great workout and my core and arms work to maintain my frame. When I dance infrequently, I always feel it everywhere the next morning. Cardio joy! PS…take a spare shirt because this will get you sweaty!
3) Connect and reflect – When I go out to a dance in our Vancouver WCS community, I get to visit with amazing people. We have everything from young adults to retired couples. Wide demographics make it that much more enjoyable, knowing that I can enjoy this for decades to come and maybe eventually get to teach the young whipper-snappers a thing or two! The crowd also helps me to centre myself on where I am in my life. Married, with children and very happy to pop out and dip into this pot of pure delight when i need to. There can always be some level of internal drama in such communities. My advice is to smile, be sincere and just stay with the positive. You will be rewarded in kind.
4) Mommy needs a life too – I love my husband. He is amazing and supportive in every way. He can see the obvious and so he knows the joy I take from getting a night out to dance. He doesn’t feel entirely the same and so he agrees that this is my time. We do many things together as a family and a few things as a couple (never enough time!) each month but I have to stay rooted in who I am and dancing is all for me. By keeping my hobbies I remain an individual. I resist labelling myself as ‘Wife’ or ‘Mom’. I am Christy; dancer, teacher, respiratory therapist, wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister…you get the point. Taking some time to keep yourself present in your own vision makes it so much easier to give to everyone else when you need to.
5) My West Coast Swing dancing community refreshes my soul – For me, dancing has always been about connection. My connection to the music. My connection to the lyrics. My connection to the deep rooted need for celebration with my whole body. West Coast Swing is a social partner dance. This means I get to add in the physical and potentially mental connection to another human being into an already joyous movement. There are some dances some evenings where the music and the partner are just right. The connection is so present that the rest of the room fades away. It doesn’t matter what I am hearing, it’s about what my leader is hearing. How can I best compliment what he/she feels in the music. Can I create something unique and shared with another being choosing to celebrate with me? What a gift to be able to share this!
West Coast Swing dancing is not just a dance; it’s a movement. Our community uses social media to plan lessons and dances and bring everyone out to enjoy them, but that’s where the human disconnection should stop. We talk, we dance, we celebrate, we laugh and we connect. This is something that any parent could share with their children. Remembering the lost art of manners and etiquette on the dance floor and off. Finding a way to connect with strangers and create new relationships. Finding a way to relieve daily exposure to stress.
So Mom, drop the smartphone (it’s not really so smart), set the bar for your family, and get out on the floor!
And save a dance for me!