"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts." -William Shakespeare
I love this quote. It is my favorite of all time. I used to write it on notebooks and in journals when I was in high school. I wanted to remember it when my life moved from act to act. Now, as an adult and a parent of a child with special needs, this beautiful quote reminds me that the chaos, struggles and heartache of right now, is only one act in my life. Just one act in my little boy's life. There are so many entrances for him to still make and so many exits to leave behind.
For my beautiful seven year old daughter Molly, this quote reflects her life as she sees it right now. The entire world is her stage. A stage on which to dance from one act to the next of her young life.
I spend almost every week blogging about my little boy Brady. He is a very special four year old. He has a very rare chromosome duplication that has caused a laundry list of delays, special needs and medical issues. But he is a fighter, a trooper and the strongest little boy I know. And he has a big sister who embraces him, and life, in a truly magical way. This weekend was all about Brady's big sister. It was her weekend. It was dance recital weekend. And it was Molly's turn to take center stage.
My daughter loves dancing. My daughter can make anything, and anywhere a stage. Any crowd, any event, becomes her audience. All the world truly is her stage. I catch my breath when my daughter dances, because she truly takes it away. She radiates passion when she starts turning, kicking and performing. My eyes uncontrollably fill with tears when I see her little makeup covered face shine so brightly from the stage. I am at peace with the job I am doing as a mother, when I see my little girl so at ease, so confidant, and most importantly, so happy. It is every parent's wish, really their only goal, to see their child truly happy. The kind of happy that makes their faces light up without any effort. The kind of happy that makes them giggle until their bellies hurt. The kind of happy that reaches inside a parent's heart and fills it until it can't hold any more and the happiness spills over into your whole being. That kind of happy. My daughter is that kind of happy right now.
There is a freedom to dancing. There is a sense of no worries, no cares, no problems and no boundaries when one is dancing. I know my daughter embraces these fleeting feelings. Her life constantly has a background of worry. Her little brother and his special needs occupy a special space in her mind and her heart. Her little brother has never said her name, or I love you or even hello. She worries that he cannot communicate. She worries that he will be made fun of. She worries that her parent's attentions will always favor Brady. She worries a lot for a seven year old. Dance is a place to escape the worry. Dance is a way to express herself, when the words do not always come to such a young girl. And dance is a way to bond with a little brother that can only express his love and gratitude to his sister through smiles, laughter and big grand foot stomping dance moves.
Brady has spent most of his young life watching his sister spin, leap and shimmy her way through our kitchen. Molly has entertained her little brother through countless meals, through insulin shots in his tiny legs and therapy sessions he would rather skip out of. She always makes him smile. She always holds his attention. She makes him her partner, but only if he wants. She shows him the steps, but only if he smiles, as if to say, I want to join you. He giggles and squeals as she spins with him and makes up silly dances that she knows will make him laugh. Dance has become an unspoken language between a big sister and her very special brother. But he has only watched Molly perform in our kitchen, our backyard and our family room. Never on a real stage.
With all the happiness and joy that has come along with dance, there have been some struggles. Molly is now part of the performing dance company at her studio. She competes at dance competitions. There are weekends away and hours spent dancing. I love the time with my daughter. I cherish these weekends with her. I love being her go to person, her makeup artist, hair stylist and quick change assistant. But I miss my little boy. I miss my husband, who has given up these same weekends, but has not been able to see his daughter dance, because he is home with our Brady. I am a little sad, when I see families and siblings cheering on their dancer and for Molly, it is just me. Brady's sensory and cognitive issues make sitting in a crowded auditorium impossible, at least for now. Molly knows that Brady and her daddy are cheering her on from home. Brady is always on her mind and he pushes her to work harder and appreciate all her talents, her options and her freedom in dancing. Even though her brother has never had an opportunity to see his sister dance on a real stage, Molly knows that if all the world is truly a stage, then her little brother has been front and center for each and every performance.
As my family gathered this weekend to watch a truly extraordinary dance recital, my husband and I left our Brady at home in the care of my mother. As we were leaving, Molly, covered in false eyelashes and bright red lipstick, reached down to her brother to give him a kiss and a "I Love You." He stopped, looked up at her and gave her a smile and she knew he was wishing her luck. She took that stage, over and over, and danced like the world truly was her stage, and hers alone. She danced with confidence and passion, that comes from knowing you are special. You feel special when you know you are loved. My little boy makes sure his big sister knows she is loved each and every day. In return, my daughter makes her entrances and exits mean just that much more and she reminds me to take a little time to dance through life, because it truly does make each act a little easier and a lot more fun.