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Tracy Briggs, Published February 03 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Mom takes chance to dance

Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones. Are you listening, middle-aged mom?

It’s not easy. It’s humbling, and occasionally it hurts your knees. But we hope that not only will we learn something, but maybe our children will benefit as well.

For the past month or so, I’ve been participating in “Sweet Charity” rehearsals at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre. Keep in mind, I’ve never done theater in my life. Occasionally I dance around to “Grease” or “Oklahoma” in my living room, but nobody outside my four walls has ever heard me sing “Greased Lightning” or “Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”

The director must have been desperate (or sympathetic). I was cast in the chorus. That includes the coveted roles of “Guitar-Playing Hippie” in the park scene and “1st Woman” in the YMCA scene. I learned my three lines in no time. The dance numbers are a different story.

I always prided myself on picking up dance moves fairly quickly back in my day as a Fargo South pom-pom girl. But this isn’t 1982, and the music sure isn’t by Loverboy. It takes me awhile to catch on, unlike some of the high school students in the production, who learn the moves faster than a sneeze. I actually need to practice at home. The other day, my 4-year-old walked in on me bouncing around like an idiot. She looked concerned.

“Mommy, what are you doing?”

“I’m practicing my dance for the show.”

“Can I have a Pop-Tart?” She was obviously unimpressed.

I felt guilty for wanting to do this. Aren’t we supposed to devote all of our attention to our children and put our own pursuits aside? And didn’t I just write a column about feeling like a “halfway mom,” pulled in every direction, giving everyone, from my kids to my co-workers, about 50 percent of me?

My husband told me he and the girls would be just fine without me a couple of nights a week and to just have fun and do it. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little weird leaving them some nights.

But I’ve come to the realization that one of the people I’ve been shortchanging lately is me. I’m giving my job part of me, and my family part of me. But I don’t always find time to be something other than a radio host, wife and mom. It feels really good to be a goofy, musically challenged woman trying her hand at musical theater.

I think my husband was right. The girls are fine when I get home at night. I think he’s even enjoyed the one-on-one time he’s had with them. It’s a cliché, but I know I’m happier when I’m around them now, too. I’m having fun and taking time for myself. And I want my daughters to see that.

I love them more than anything in the world, but I think it’s good for them to know that I have a life outside their interests and activities. I also want them to understand that you don’t stop being a person when you become a mom.

So, I hope you’ll come to the show this weekend at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre. It’s going to be great! In the meantime, I’ll be icing my knees and getting my daughter another Pop-Tart.

Briggs is a mother of two and a personality for WDAY AM 970