We are now the proud owner's of a dance room. My daughter started the summer off by asking my husband to build her a "dance room". My husband thought a little floor and maybe a mirror...but not my daughter Molly, she thought one that looked just like the one she dances in each week at her studio. My husband, being the ever patient daddy, traveled to Home Depot, picked up so much wood flooring he couldn't fit it all in his car and got to work on the "dance room." Last night, he finally finished. Last night my daughter got a room of her own.
As regular readers know, my daughter Molly is a remarkable seven year old big sister to a little boy with a very rare chromosome disorder. My son Brady is a four year old little boy who struggles with every developmental milestone and any form of communication. Brady has a duplication on his first chromosome. It is very rare. It has caused more issues than I want to list. It is very frustrating. It is very frustrating for a sister who just wants to play with her little brother and have less worries.
Molly is patient and very loving with her brother, but as they get older, I see her more easily frustrated with not only her brother, but with the cards we have been dealt as a family. I know how challenging being Brady's sister can be, because being his mother has many challenging moments. But Molly has found a place to find peace. A place to find freedom. A place to escape. Molly finds herself in dance. So there is no better room to call her own, than a dance room.
The "dance room" is really just a metaphor for so much more. It is more than four walls, a mirror, wood floors and long barre. It is more than a corner in our basment. It is a space where worries disappear and beauty rises up. It is a room where my daughter can reinvent herself with each new song that spills from her stereo. It is a place of escape, of pure joy, magic and a place my daughter can call her own. A place where she can do something she loves and love being who she is.
Dancing has changed Molly's world. It has given her an enormous amount of confidence. It has given her a new little "family" of friends, teachers and other "moms" who love her like their own. Dance is a wonderful expression of so many emotions. Dance can replace the words that are too hard to say. For a sibling of a child with special needs, sometimes, it is the only way to express the frustration, the fear, the love and yes, the laughter that comes with being the big sister. Dance is so much more than most realize and having a room to practice and perform means so much to my daughter.
We had another week of small challenges with Brady. I never take for granted how blessed we are as a family and how small our challenges are in the big scheme of life. I know there are families struggling with challenges greater than ours. I know there are children who face odds much more daunting than Brady. I know all of this. My husband knows this. Even my seven year old daughter knows this....sort of. But, when you are facing challenges with a family member, especially a sweet little boy, day after day, it is hard to think about how lucky you are. We try. We try very hard. But some days get you down and make you want to escape.
My daughter now has a room to find some peace. To take a step back. To do something she loves with every bit of her heart. Dance clears her mind. Dance lets her work off frustration and laugh so hard when she makes up silly choreography. And when her little brother finds his way into her dance room...well, she welcomes him with open arms, scoops him up and lets him join in her fun. The room is about so much more than a place to perform. Dance is about so much more than performing.
With all the challenges in the last few weeks, a remarkable little moment happened on Saturday. Molly has danced in many competitions and performances in the past year. But because of Brady's lack of focus and concentration and sensory challenges, he has never ever seen his sister perform on stage. This Saturday he finally did. Molly and her fellow dancers at Suzette's Masters of Dance were asked to perform at the Shelby Township Art Fair. It was outside. It was a very casual environment. It was the perfect place for Brady. It was finally time for him to see his sister bring all that passion he sees each day in our kitchen, out onto a real stage. It was a rainy day and Brady and I arrived right about his normal nap time. The conditions and timing were not ideal for my son and Brady fussed and tried to wiggle out of his stroller. I held my breath, hoping he could make it to performance time. He was distracted and irritable...but then the opening notes of "Witch Dr.", Molly's first dance number, came across the speakers and Brady turned his head towards the stage. He stopped. He watched. I believe in my heart, he even smiled. He finally saw his sister dance. Molly beamed from the stage and she caught her brother's eye. She knew that he saw her. She knew that he loved it and he found the same peace she finds each and every time she takes a stage.
We had a magical moment with Brady. One we all enjoyed as a family. We cherised this big moment. As Brady's family, we know we will always have challenges. We will always need places to escape and find a little peace. I am so happy to know my daughter has a passion for dance, but an even bigger passion for her brother and all that his special needs bring with him. But when she needs a break, when she needs to find a little magic of her own...she has her dance room. She has a room all her own.