The following is a guest post by special contributor Julie Taylor
Weeks after Lifetime’s hit reality series “Dance Moms” wrapped up Season Three, I attended a meet-and-greet event featuring one of the show’s most popular mother-daughter duos: Christi and Chloe Lukasiak.
My 9-year-old daughter is a huge “Dance Moms” fan, so early on a Sunday morning we headed to a Marriott ballroom in Irvine, California with several hundred other fans for the chance to rub elbows with the reality stars, in real life.
When Chloe and Christi entered, the room erupted in excited cheers so high-pitched that for a second I wondered if I was at a One Direction concert. One girl in the front row had tears streaming down her face and was literally sobbing. But Chloe and Christi took all the attention in stride, smiling and laughing with the crowd.
Christi said that many young fans have adopted the girls on “Dance Moms” as their best friends, largely in part because the girls on the show experience the same ups and downs as any tween. “Chloe has a lot of highs and lows on the show,” she explained. “Sometimes Abby is so mean to her. But she comes into this room and meets fans who love her and tell her she is an inspiration, and it makes some of that ugliness easier.”
During the next hour, we learned that Chloe wants to go to Harvard (because “Legally Blonde” was set there), that she’s a straight-A student, and that she plans to start a book club next month via social media.
“Chloe is the self-proclaimed ‘nerd’ of the group, and she loves to read,” said Christi. I think she’s in a cool position to inspire other kids to learn to love reading as much as she does.” Agreed!
After the meet-and-greet, Christi sat down with ModernMom to answer our top questions:
ModernMom: How does your husband feel about you being on the show?
Christi Lukasiak: My husband has come to terms with it. At first, he was scared. It’s reality TV, so he wasn’t quite sure what to make of all of it. But he’s a big supporter of Chloe and me. He actually wrote me an email this morning since we’re out here, and he wrote, “You know, I just want you to know I support you no matter what and I love you.” We’ve been together since college. He’s just that kind of guy … he’s a good man. I’m very lucky.
MM: How has the experience of being on “Dance Moms” changed your life? I know you were just a normal mom…
CL: I feel like I’m still just a normal mom. I really do — with the exception of coming to a meet-and-greet or something like this. I clean my bathrooms just like everyone else. I drive my daughter to school everyday. It’s given Chloe extraordinary chances and opportunities, and it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
MM: Were you surprised that the show took off like it did?
CL: Ohmigod, yes. I thought that we would have a following but I didn’t think it would be this big. I think our relationship is what makes the show interesting. We all had a relationship before the show. Most shows on television are just cast. We have a history and I think that’s very unique.
MM: If you had to turn back time, would you do it again?
CL: Yeah, it’s been an amazing opportunity. But sometimes, the days are long, you know?
MM: Would you put younger daughter on the show?
CL: Well, my younger daughter dances, and she does dance at Abby’s because I’m there so much filming. We typically film after school from 4PM to 10PM. I wanted her to dance and I wanted her to be with me. She’s little. She’s four. She could have her own show … she’s hysterical!
Any experience that Clara would have is going to be completely different from Chloe because Chloe’s 12 and Clara’s a baby. She grew up in this environment so this is normal to her. This is her life.
MM: How is your relationship with Abby now? We know at the end of last season, it was kind of rocky…
CL: It’s pretty much the same. Status quo. I don’t know if Abby and I will ever be bosom buddies. I wish for Chloe’s sake that Abby would be different. I would be willing to bury the hatchet with Abby but I don’t think she would reciprocate.
MM: I know a lot of people think Abby is very abusive and criticize the moms for putting their kids in her classes. Does the criticism bother you?
CL: Yes, but I try to shut out the haters. I feel like sometimes people don’t understand the whole back story. It is hard to be judged. I think more than anything the most important job I will ever have is being a mother. So for people to judge my parenting skills is really hard. It’s parenting in a fishbowl. Everybody can sit behind a keyboard and judge you. Walk a mile in my shoes and see how you would react!
MM: Did you feel it was unfair when Abby wouldn’t allow Chloe to compete in Nationals at the end of last season after your fight with Leslie? Were you angry about that?
CL: I wasn’t angry, I was upset. I realize that my behavior has consequences. If you saw the reunion, Leslie had no remorse. I was truly sorry, but she didn’t even accept my apology. I think I felt bad because we were letting the team down without Chloe being able to pull her weight as part of the team. And I felt sad for Chloe that she was obviously paying for my actions. I kept saying it has nothing to do with her. It had everything to do with me. I didn’t think it was fair.
MM: Do you typically read the negative comments you get online, or do you try to stay away from that?
CL: I used to read them but they became so hurtful. I know who I am, and I’m comfortable with who I am at this point in my life. There’s more to me than the edgy, sassy, feisty side you see on television. Deep down, I just feel like I know I’m a good person. And it hurts when people just believe 43 minutes is all you are. It’s a little hard.
I think I would like to start an online blog where I talk about being a mom of a preteen. I think a lot of people would identify with that. It’s turbulent – parenting a 12-year-old. I think that would maybe help people see the other side of us. Because we really are just trying to get through the tween years … we’re just doing it on TV!
MM: Do you have a job outside the home?
CL: I used to own a franchise for eight years before Dance Moms. I tried to do both. In Season One, I was running a business as well as administering employees. And I was filming this and I had a one-year-old, and it was just too much. By Season Two, I did sell my business. When this is all said and done, I don’t know what I’ll do. “Dance Moms” is a full-time job for sure, and of course, my girls are my main job. As everyone knows, being a parent is a full-time job. You get up at 6:00 and you don’t stop moving until 10:00. Constant.
MM: Has this experience made you a stronger person?
CL: Absolutely. And it’s made me more aware of what an amazing opportunity we have to impact young kids in a positive way.
Julie Taylor is a TV producer, magazine writer, and the author of 8 books including How to Be a Dominant Diva. She is the mom of two tweens, age 9 and 12.
Photo credit: Images courtesy of Lifetime