A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Confessions of a Stage Mother

 by Christy Dorrity

This article first appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of FeisAmerica Magazine.

 In my role as a stage mother, I like to think I am the encouraging type. I am not the other type, you know them, parents who hover over their star child, pushing them to pursue the dream they never accomplished. I love my child as he is, encouraging him to chase his own dreams, giving him freedom to choose those dreams without my influence. If he wanted to stop dancing, I would let him in a heart-beat. I think.

Friends who know of the passion I had for dance in my younger years laugh when they hear I have a son in dance. “You signed your son up for ballet?” The real meaning of their accusation is clear-you love dancing so much that you forced it onto your unsuspecting son.

The truth is, my son asked me for dance lessons when he was still in diapers. Each Tuesday as I put him into bed, he would ask me to take him to my adult Irish dance class. Tucking his blanket under his chin, I told him that it was a class “just for mommies”. After this went on for more than a year, I asked him if he wanted to join a dance class for kids. Ballet and tap ensued, followed by a love of Irish dance that we still share. My little boy initiated the dance lessons and I encouraged him to follow his interest.

Now I peer through the viewing window at class to see if his form is correct. Is he pointing his toes, are his hands straight at his sides? Is he focusing on what the teacher is passing on to him? The emotional ribbons that tie me to dance are interwoven with how I feel about my son’s first hobby.

At performances I beam with pride and have visions of him trebleing to fame, placing at Nationals, even being asked to join the Riverdance troupe. There is no limit to how much he can achieve, I think to myself, if he works diligently towards this dream I have for him.

I bought him a ticket to see Lord of the Dance. My intentions are noble. I plan to expose him to the expertise of professional male dancers…and secretly I hope he will be taken in by the music and dance, as I am. He shows a genuine interest and talent for Irish dance and I want him to love it as much as I do.

Last week I presented him with his own (expensive) ticket to Lord of the Dance. I showed him a video clip from the production’s website. “Isn’t that amazing?” I said. “Do you want to learn to perform like that?” I held my breath waiting for his answer. “Yeah,” he said, “I want to get really good at Irish dancing. Or maybe I could learn to perform Kung Fu onstage.”

As he hop-two-three-d to the next room, my mouth hung open in painful realization. I am more attached to my dream of his success than I realized.

Perhaps we are all stage parents. We age, we acquire families and full-time jobs, and, for some of us, our dreams are put away. Those of us whose dreams are cut short won’t allow them to die, and it is all too easy to project them onto our children.

 Most mothers and fathers encourage self-confidence and growth through the activities their children participate in. Perhaps they even secretly harbor a belief that their child could be the next Jean Butler, or Michael Phelps, or David Cook. Parents want their children to experience success.

I wonder then, can I let go and allow my son to pursue his own dreams, unhampered by the ones I cling to? The answer, I find, is surprisingly simple. It is a matter of allowing myself to live those dreams that I believed were lost with my youth.

My desires to motivate my son and my need to follow my own dreams can go hand in hand. When I pursue my own talents and ambitions, he observes my dedication; he notices the drive with which I pursue my interests. When I allow myself to reach for those dreams I had almost forgotten, he is encouraged to struggle for his own visions of greatness. I will be the kind of stage mother every parent wants to be-one who shares with their child a love for life and envisions his/her ultimate potential.

I’ll have no regrets if my son chooses to dance, or to play ball, or to be a musician. This stage mom will be there cheering him on regardless of the venue. After all, dreams are fulfilling only when they can be shared with the ones you love. Dusting off my ambitions will be a satisfying challenge. Who knows, I may even develop new talents. Kung Fu, here we come.

This article first appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of FeisAmerica Magazine.


  1. hi, christy
    beautiful story! i think the gene was there when he's still inside your belly. totally agree with you that u let your kid to choose what he really wants to be. and i really admire you that u let go if someday he doesnt want to be dancing!
    embrace - that's what our mom hv been learning.
    following you from MBC!

  2. Thank you very much. Sometimes it is hard not to push our kids to do things we think they should do and, instead, let them find their own way.

  3. Appreciate your site. Very helpful post.


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