All year, I’ve shlepped the kids to dance classes two days a week amid more-than-occasional whines and complaints about¬†I’m so tired, I have so much homework, do I really have to go to dance?

So you can imagine how exciting it is to have the recital Monday night and have a few dance-free months to listen to the birds in the trees and relax in the grassy yard without having to rush anywhere.

Yesterday, two of my kids had their recital rehearsals, in full costume and a splash of lipstick. The lights dimmed in the high school auditorium, and illuminated on my glowing children all dolled up in fancy costumes.

And they danced. They smiled, they tapped, they flipped, they cartwheeled. They flung into all they had learned, carefully choreographed and planned out, and when I watched, well, this is why dance studios exist.

Once you see the beauty of the costumes and the music and the flurry of movement up on a stage, you’re mesmerized. When the little ones get up and stumble and trip and do things all at different times, you laugh the kind of belly-laugh that only sweet little children can inspire.

When the older kids get up there and glide like swans across the stage, you hold your breath.

When the in-between-ers – those who haven’t danced for that long or who are new to it or who are older than the pudgy pig-tailed toddlers – they’re sweet in their effort, and their jazzy costumes and their innocent beauty.

All year, I’ve wondered why anyone would run a dance studio. So many classes to coordinate, so many families to please, and half the year spent on this damn recital. Costume fittings – check! Photo day – check! Oh and did I mention on photo day, there’s a booth set up to order all manner of items with your smiling dolled-up child’s picture on it? I had to say no when Eliana wanted the flip-flops with her image in costume.

The whole year, I’ve been so annoyed with the trappings of this trend, thinking it was all about money-making and running a business. Not at all about teaching the love of dance to my children. Half the year spent working on the recital routine, for God’s sake!

But yesterday, seeing the children choreograph through their numbers one after the next, I realized that this is why people dance in the first place.

It’s the costumes and the music and the fluidity of motion up on a stage with a packed auditorium of loving parents and grandparents and siblings not quite annoyed. it’s performing in front of an audience, which, though they say they’re nervous to do, they actually love.

It’s watching grace and talent in action and wanting to be it, wholly.

So it’s worth it, I’ve decided, in eager anticipation for Monday night. Worth the effort, worth the frustration, worth the grumbling and whining and complaints. Worth the driving.

To have a moment of beauty, to instill in my children the grace of movement, to see something through to completion and know that their talents have increased and expanded.

To glide across a stage in elegant attire, a swipe of lipstick across my daughter’s lips, the bun in perfect placement for her hair and my little boy, grinning ear to ear as he taps up and down the stage with his green sequined tie.

Worth it. All.

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