Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Stage Mother and One Uninterested Ballerina / The Rebirth of a Stage Mother

MetroPost said goodbye in their July 30 issue. They cited financial difficulties being the cause of their closure. This weekend, however, MetroPost was ressurrected by what the editors consider to be "a miracle".

Here is the editorial in the August 6 issue:

"It is said that publishing a newspaper is like making a miracle - you start with nothing and come out with something.

For the last four years that we have been publishing the MetroPost, we see the miracle happen every week.

Last week, we not only saw this miracle happen again, we saw an even bigger miracle. We did say we were cashing in our chips for the simple reason that the bills to pay were bigger than the money coming in.

But what happened next was totally beyond our expectations. MetroPost readers -- even those we didn't know were reading us -- called, emailed, sent text messages offering, among other things, to defray part of our printing costs. This, we believe, is something unheard of in Dumaguete, and also probably unprecedented in the history of Philippine media.

Yes, we're back in business! Now, more than ever, we know we are filling a need in the Dumaguete and Negros Oriental community. A need that is felt by our readers regardless of their politics, religious beliefs, and economic standing.

With such a divergent readership and support, this is one time we can truly say the MetroPost is a newspaper of a real University Town!

Indeed, we just witnessed another miracle. But don't look for it in the paper you are reading. Rather, look within yourselves, for the miracle is what touched the hearts of the MetroPost readers to action. Praise God!"

So this is how it came to be that I am able to continue writing for MetroPost, in my column Housewives on the Move. For the next two issues, I wrote about myself as stage mother and about the story of one really successful stage mother, Noemi.

Part 1: A Stage Mother and One Uninterested Ballerina

“It’s 4:45 pm already, why are they not here yet?” I looked at my watch for the nth time, tapped impatient fingers on the table, paced around nervously, frowned towards the empty stairs, returned to the tables and frowned (again) at the assortment of girly accessories littered all over it… “WE’RE DEFINITELY GOING TO BE LATE!”

Then the sound of footsteps could be heard hurrying down the stairs … finally, we can start!

Yes folks, you are reading about one stressful afternoon in the life of a stage mother! Stressful?…you may wonder. Yes, it is! Take it from me. Keep reading and I will tell you why. And try to imagine yourself in my shoes.

When your daughter would finally appear after that agonizingly long wait, you have to have the agility of a world-class athlete to catch a speeding ball of energy intent only on reaching the playground. If you let her get past you, extricating her from the seesaws and swings would take away 5 minutes from your dwindling time.

Now you have your little girl right where you want her. Then begins the struggle to fit one uncooperative leg after another into very tight tights! At this point, you will start wondering why bother? when you are the only one who is interested anyway. That discussion will have to wait until next Sunday. In the meantime, let us go back to the uncooperative legs that finally got through after all that wriggling and twisting around. Beads of sweat the size of corn kernels are streaming down your forehead already. Phew!!!

“I’m going to fix your hair now. Don’t move!!” But even before you could finish mouthing those nine words, that beloved little head has already started moving and turning around, seemingly bent on following its own agenda. You strongly suspect that it is to tear your already-frayed nerves apart. Grrrrr….

Don’t judge me, but there were times when I was sorely tempted to crush that adorable little head with my bare hands!! How can you fix that hair into a tidy bun when you have a tornado for a head?

“STOP MOVING.” You long so much to shout those words at the top of your voice! But you have to mind your manners, after all, you are not in your own house! Ha ha ha! So you grind your teeth in secret and just say “Please stop moving, Langga. You are giving Mama a very hard time here.”…. in the sweetest voice you could possibly fake!!!

Now, granting that you can immobilize that head, you will still have to contend with impatient feet that keep switching from left to right, jiggling arms that have suddenly become itchy all over, a shaking butt that seems to dance to its own secret tempo… Are you getting the picture already? If not yet, just imagine trying to tie a neat bun on top of a jackhammer! I rest my case.

After so much “ouch, ouch, you’re hurting my head” said in that petulant tone, you finally have her in her pretty pink ballet outfit with hair neatly fixed into a flowery bun (color coordinated, mind you). Tense moments over for the stage mother? Oh no, not yet!

With Hibbard Avenue closed to southbound vehicles, you will have to brave the 5pm traffic in the North Highway, suffer through the bottleneck near NORSU, then turn left at PNB to find even more congestion.

By the time you turn left at Hibbard Ave., you are down to praying you will reach Luce Auditorium before 6pm. Finally, you reach the gate only to be told to get a sticker and then asked for your purpose for entering Silliman! “I’m taking my daughter to ballet class.” To that the guard politely asked, “and where is your daughter Ma’am?” Darn it! You have completely forgotten! “Uuh…ahh, she is riding in her friend’s car…” You wonder what he was thinking about at that point. “Do you have an ID?” OK, with cars piling behind you and traffic at standstill, you panic as you search your bag. Finally, you reach Luce. Phew!

The girls made it too, albeit late! With the little ballerinas deposited into the dance studio, my stage mother pals and I can finally relax. Remember those chairs in the lawn outside Luce? They are still arranged like our own sala. You feel at home immediately…and as I mentioned previously, it is very conducive to stimulating conversation….

But not this afternoon. The supplier of tights, leotards and ballet shoes arrived, and the stage mothers sprung back into action! “I need size 12 leotards with sleeves” … “where are the size 3.5 shoes?” … “is it size 8 or 10 tights for my daughter?” and so on…

Stage Mothers … on call 24/7!

Part 2: The Rebirth of a Stage Mother

Abby will never become a ballerina, even if she takes ballet lessons for the next 50 years! She simply does not possess the gift.

Nor will she ever become a taekwondo blackbelter, or a singer of Lea Salonga's fame, even a top-caliber swimmer.

Except for swimming, Abby resisted structured activities like ballet, taekwondo and singing (too boring!). To get her to attend her classes (having paid in full already), I literally had to bribe and cajole her, and when those failed, I resorted to coercion and blackmail (like no TV)!

So why do I, and other stage mothers like myself, bother at all?

Because we love our children. We nurture the hope that they will be enriched through these activities. We would like to see them develop a good-enough singing voice, for instance, or learn survival skills from their swimming lessons, or know how and where to land a highly effective knee (we mothers can only hope in this!) should an admirer become too amorous in the future! And ballet? If she cannot become a ballerina, how about develop poise and grace at the least?

But more than being enriched by their experiences, I believe most stage mothers simply want to open up as many opportunities for their children as possible. To put it simply, we enroll our children from one class to another, and follow them around like glorified alalays lugging bags, water jugs and hair sprays, because we want to help them find where they can be good at! We owe that to them. And once we have found that, we want to nurture that gift the best we can.

All moms, whether working or stay-at-home, are stage mothers at heart. We want our children to be the best they can be. We want them to reach their full potential. And it is within our power to provide them with the right opportunities.

And should we become tired or too overwhelmed by the fees/expenses involved? Just read the story of one successful stage mother! She helped her daughters find their passions and she opened up opportunities for them.

She is Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. With her permission, I am reproducing here Rebirth of a Stage Mother which was posted in her blog Touched by an Angel: A Filipino Mother's Grief Journey and Recovery at

Let us be inspired by her! She speaks for all of us!

"Gone are the days when I'd wait patiently by the lobby of the ballet studio, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theater or wherever my 2 girls performed piano, ballet, voice recitals or a choir performance. Ohh, how enthralled I was listening or watching them on stage! Tying their hair to a neat bun, dabbling with their makeup or lugging their costumes were now a thing of the past. Those were my stage mother years. My hubby thought I was this frustrated mother who used her girls as a tool for her unfulfilled ambitions. Haha. Funny. My maternal instinct sought to develop the God-given talents of my daughters. I cannot for the life of me, carry a tune or tap my toes so there were no ballerina or opera singer dreams.

The stage mother years span from the time Lauren was a precocious 4 year old pianist till her early teens. Marielle, my second daughter, gifted with a singing voice, followed suit. The girls danced ballet, sang, played the piano, but when they discovered the
Manila Children's Choir, they got hooked. Maybe because being with a group of kids was a blast. I even had my own barkada of stage mothers. As the mother of 2 minor children, I accompanied them to cultural exchange trips to the USA or Canada. Meanwhile, hubby whined that I constantly left him in the Philippines with my son. Feeling guilty, I resolved to curb these trips or at least train the girls to travel on their own. As we traveled, I gave pointers on airline, immigration procedures, packing, and basic travel.

In the summer of 2000, I announced to the girls that the Europe tour was cancelled because of a much-needed family vacation in Cebu. Now this is where I constantly have regrets. See, if we were in Europe, we would not have gone to the beach resort. If we did not go to the beach resort,
my precious son would have not died. Regrets! Regrets! How could a family day turn into this nightmare? Through the years, those regrets and guilt have been resolved. We just don't know when death comes. It's HIS master plan.

And so, my stage mother years ended in the year 2000. However, the girls continued their singing performances and managed to travel on their own. In one of those trips, my daughter received the blessings from the frail
Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. Then one day they realized they were too old for the children's choir and quit.

It's been 5 years now. Or so I thought!

A few weeks ago, Marielle sent me an urgent text message: "I need hairpins, gel, fine tooth comb, makeup bag. I need it for the concert tomorrow." I can sense the panic. "and stuffing for the hairnet! My hair is too short."

She joined a chorale in the University of the Philippines during her second semester because she missed the singing and performing days. See! I was not a stage mother for nothing.

Whaaaaat? I will drive all the way to Quezon City just to bring those things? Blah blah blah. Yakkity yak! She sweetly persuades me to concede, with an invitation to watch their show.

How could I resist? I'm still a stage mother. hehe."

1 comment:

Mec said...

it was only now that i saw the comment you left on my blog for my nephew... thank you, for the kind words. and i'm sure, the love i feel for him... the constant worry and prayers and good intentions for him... do not compare to what you have for your own kids...

i'm so sorry to find that you lost a child... no parent should have to bury one... and there's nothing I can say to you that will make the pain and the questions go away...

a loss is a loss is a loss... and am really sorry for yours... i know you'd have made a good mother of two... but as it is, maybe this is really Life's plan for you... a great Mother of one :)