What kind of Mom will I be? Dance Mom – Gymnastics Mom

I’m not sure what it is exactly about dance verses gymnastics that always makes me choose gymnastics over dance. I wish the same held true for my girls. Both girls are involved in both sports. I should mention that Tom feels that neither are a true sport – a discussion for another time.

Carly has been competing both gymnastics and dance. This is her second year competing in both; she is a level 4 gymnast and a mini/petite dancer. As a member of the Revolution Dance Company, Carly dances twice a week for total of 5 hours plus any additional solo practices (not much). Carly competes both a jazz and a tap routine with her dance team and jazz/character/musical theater (whatever the competition calls it) for her solo. This is her first year with a solo and it is truly my favorite part of dance.

Most of Carly’s “free time” is spent in the gym, 4 days a week 16 hours total. I have watched countless hours of practice (in a smelly gym) and many gymnastics competitions. Carly is in the “compulsories” level of gymnastics so all of the girls learn the exact same routines and skills. Each season she competes in 6 competitions and if she qualifies (with an all around meet score of 33 or better), she competes at the State competition. **which is this upcoming weekend**

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Caroline competes with the dance team and just practices at the gym. I originally allowed her to be on the dance team with Carly because it was “only” an extra hour and a half of practice a week and I figured that Carly was going to be there so Caroline might as well be there too – and I thought that it wouldn’t be so bad to have them both involved at the same time and place.

Caroline was invited to be on the pre-team at the gym this fall, and practices twice a week (should be 3 times but we decided that was too much for her). We will find our in May if she will be invited to the level 3 team in the summer – I am doubtful (which is fine). She could use an extra year of pre-team, both for strength and maturity, before she competes.

Caroline competed on the dance team last year and she does again this year. She competes with Carly for tap and then with a younger group for jazz, she also has a solo that fits into the jazz category at all of the competitions we have been to. This is also Caroline’s first solo, and aside from lugging an enormous, pink, glittery frame around, I just love the dance!

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The seasons of these two sports overlap somewhat and Carly has had to make some choices about which competitions/meets she will miss. Last year we were fortunate and through a scheduling miracle – nothing overlapped (sure, there was some tricky driving in-between events) and she made it to every meet and every competition. This year that has not been the case. Every possible chance there was for overlap – there was! She has missed one gymnastics meet and one dance out of three at a dance competition.

We are fortunate that we are able to allow our girls to participate in these sports. Both are time consuming and both are expensive.

The time will come when both girls will have to choose. For Carly, that time is coming sooner rather than later. The sheer exhaustion is wearing Carly down a little. Not to mention all the driving around that is just about killing me. Gym practice 5-9pm three times a week (2 on school nights) is really rough on our family!

I honestly have no idea what they will choose. If I had to guess, Carly would pick gymnastics and Caroline would pick dance even though I feel it would be better the other way around…

I am not a fan of the “pageantry” part of dance – the expense of the costumes, the hair and make up that make it feel (to me) more like a pageant than a sport. Don’t get me wrong I know the hard work, discipline and strength that go into each dance. I know these girls are amazing athletes. Why is that hard earned technique getting overshadowed with costumes, hair….and make up? There is a tendency in dance to have little girls grow-up too fast and not perform as little girls – through inappropriate costuming, questionable music and suggestive dance “moves”. While this isn’t the case at every studio or competition, I have seen it more times that I’d care to (ask me about Gaga). In my opinion, the focus seems to be in the wrong place.

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I like the gritty feel of a gymnast. I understand the long hours worked in a smelly gym – the chalk smeared on their hands and legs. Messy buns pulled to the top of their heads. The team rallying around one girl as she finally gets a skill. The gym feels like a community. It’s one huge gym with all the girls practicing together, in their separate groups, but aware of what’s going on around them (a bit distracting for Carly). The girls get to watch the older girls on a daily basis – and those older girls become their role models. Team warm ups and matching team leotards…hair pulled back so the focus is on the individual skills. Crisp clean – gymnastics!

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It is possible too, that as a former figure skater, I understand the sport of gymnastics better that I understand the sport of dance. Let’s be honest tough, I don’t understand either one very well…

It really comes down to this…
I love watching my kids do what they love, whatever that ends up being!
I love the strength and focus of gymnastics. I love the clarity of “getting” a skill.
I love watching the girls perform their dances on stage. I love how their personalities can really shine.

Whichever sport they choose I will support them, maybe I’ll even wear a bedazzled shirt!!!

Why didn’t they just love soccer? That would have made life so much easier!!


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