Tutus and Traditions

Let me make sure I have everything… Nude leotard, ballet slippers, bun accessories, makeup for whiskers, games, snacks, bouquet of flowers, and a fluffy blanket. Check.  Opening night here we come.

I suppose you could say I’m a  veteran nutcracker mom, but at the same time I’m still a newbie.  This is the 3rd year my family has been a part of the Nutcracker production at the Foundation of Arts in Jonesboro, AR.  My daughter Riley Kate fell in love with the production at the age of 3 the first time we took her to see it.  She loved everything about it.  The bright lights, the costumes, the music, and of course the wonderful ballerinas.

The first year she was eligible to try out she was cast as a bon bon, the next year a snow flurry, and this year a mouse.  She has loved every role and has loved every new group of friends she is placed with.

Audition time is not super stressful.  She tries out with friends and she is excited for any part that she may receive.  Every year we find out our role and attend the brief kick-off meeting.  I’m always extremely overwhelmed when we leave.  The idea of the numerous late night and weekend practices, the volunteering, the breakfast with ballerinas prep, and the constant planning of the show always has me a bit consumed, but not my Riley Kate.  She just rolls with the punches.

After a few weeks of practice I begin to de-stress and realize that “we got this.”  My daughter looks forward to every practice, and the smile on her face is worth it all.

My daughter and I have a routine every year.  A few days before the school show production, we buy our Nutcracker “ grab bag”.  It ranges from make up, to tights, to board games, arts and crafts, and cozy blankets.  Early on in our Nutcracker journey, I learned that with the young children comes hours of chaperoning and waiting in private dressing rooms until they are released to the stage .  Veteran moms taught me quickly that a  “grab bag” of fun items and snacks is a must.  The girls can’t wait to pull everything out of the bag and share with one another. It’s become a fun tradition.

Riley Kate made lasting friendships through the years. I too have been lucky and met some outstanding moms.  We become sort of a pack or a “secret society.”  We share funny stories, bobby pins, make up, and snacks.  I have truly met some of the best women, and have kept friendships after the show ends.

As I apply the last bit of lipstick and whiskers to my daughters face, and secure her bun one last time before the show, I’m thankful for the time with my daughter.  We have shared many laughs, tears, and wonderful memories.

From a newbie/veteran Nutcracker mom to a future Nutcracker mom:
Remember, it may seem overwhelming and tiring but the relationships that are developed, to the special memories made with your daughter, it’s well worth it. Take it all in, take a lot of pictures, and enjoy the ride.

-Stephanie Andrews

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