This being the week after Mother’s Day, almost everyone is coming down from the sometimes-obligatory, sometimes-authentic, sometimes-happy, sometimes-weepy commemoration and honouring of mothers. For many, it can be a day of very mixed feelings depending on one’s relationship with the various mothers in one’s life, and certainly a day of remembrance for those whose mothers have passed. For me, personally, I have the privilege and joy of a second pass through parenthood, so this celebration is immediate and visceral in our household. It is also a day not without a touch of melancholy, as my own mother has passed to – as we explain to our four-and-a-half-year-old – live in G-d’s house.
Not surprisingly, I met my love salsa dancing, and the great dance connection led to a great connection off the dance floor as well. The irony, however, is not that uncommon for those women who now celebrate the day to honour mothers—since our daughter was born, we have actually danced together very little (outside of our kitchen, that is!). It is a fundamental truth that when a baby is born, a mother is also born at the same time. As philosopher Rumi reminds us, “[The mother] never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. The mother is something entirely new.”
This new life force – the mother – is a transformed entity from the woman who preceded. The woman may have been a dancer, taking joy and passion from the connection of the dance. The mother (assuming she has any energy remaining after performing what is probably the hardest job in humanity) may take her joy, may realize her passion, from elsewhere and other activities. It is likely that dance becomes less of a priority, especially in the early years.
And yet, dance brings tremendous benefits to every aspect of life: It is good physically. It is amazingly positive mentally and emotionally. In fact, as I wrote about a few months ago in my series on dance, positive psychology, and wellbeing, dance activates the five elements of human wellbeing in the PERMA model: Positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning, and accomplishment. Without a doubt, wellbeing is something that mothers especially can use more of.
For the dads among the readership, celebrate mothers by inviting them to dance, and help both of you reconnect to what likely was once very important in your lives. For the moms, give yourself permission to relive, if even for a short time, the woman you once were who revelled in the delight of dance. And to moms and dads alike, I hope to soon…
See you on the dance floor.