Dance Like No One Is Watching

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Monday nights after Dancing with the Stars has become “date night” for David and me.

We often stay in the city to avoid the long drive home and early morning traffic on my way back to the studio. This past Monday we recorded a video from my DWTS dressing room to send to the kids, saying goodnight and sending our love. My nanny called, very appreciative, and shared how much that had meant to our kids.

It turned out that Rain had a TERRIBLE night. She is the most level headed of my children and rarely has a melt-down, but that night she threw a fantastic 4-year-old tantrum…”I miss my mommy, I NEED her, RIGHT NOW! Take me to Dancing with the Stars to see her, PLEEEEEEASE!”

My nanny had never seen her in such a panic and tried to the best of her ability to calm her down.  Rain knew we were staying in a hotel that night and not coming home. “I need to go to the hotel NOW,” she screamed. Unfortunately, I was in script meetings and could not be reached.

My nanny finally gave in and started to drive the kids down the Pacific Coast Highway towards me, thinking that was the best move for my daughter, all the while counting on a fake-out and praying for a sleepy drive!

But with no such luck (and after remembering who was in charge), my nanny headed back home with an ice cream bribe and a promise that Mommy was coming on TV soon. She creatively told Rain that I would be smiling right at her from TV-land and waiting to see her the next day.

I never think it’s ok for my kids to make demands and get their way with their care-givers. But I totally get the uniqueness of that night and Rain’s desperate need for me.  When they finally got home and my nanny settled the kids in front of the TV to watch me, Rain quickly passed out. Poor thing.

For all us working moms and any others with responsibilities that keep them away from their children, here’s how I see it: Sometimes our kids just can’t have us when they need us, but the feeling of being heard and understood is really important to a child.  I never want my kids to feel that they can dictate what they want and get their way, but that night for some reason Rain REALLY needed me.  She wasn’t clear on what I was doing and why I couldn’t be with her.

We had a heart-to-heart the next day. Rain told me that she wigged out and was screaming so loud she hurt her own voice.  “What happened?” I asked her.

Rain painfully replied, “Why do you have to go on an airplane and go to THAT hotel with the water slides without me???”

Ah haaa, suddenly a huge light bulb turned on in my head!

In Rain’s mind, she thought Mama and Papa were away having a blast without her at a special place where we vacationed last summer.  “Hotel” to her meant that same spot our family enjoyed together.

I explained to her that Mondays and Tuesdays are work days for me so Papa and I stay in a small boring hotel (that we drive to). And all we do once we’re there is go to sleep so that Mommy can get to the studio bright and early.  “Ooooooh,” Rain said. “So you don’t fly there, and stay away from me because you want to… you just have to stay there for work. And there are no water slides.”

She totally got it.  The message that rang loud and clear for me is how important it is to consider a child’s point of view and how we MUST take the time to explain things to them and make sure they understand.

I need Rain to feel secure, so I told her that I will not always need to do that and that I might invite her to join me in the hotel for a special night together this season. She was very happy and very capable of understanding.

All it took was ten minutes to explain to her what I was doing during the time we were apart. I also reassured her how much I love and miss her every hour I am at work.  “When you are missing me, I am missing you too,” I said tenderly.

I love this shirt she wore today…..

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Changing your point of view can be a very powerful thing.  I often tell the stars on DWTS, right before they walk onto the ballroom floor, “Pretend that no one is watching and just dance your heart out!”  It’s amazing how empowering that simple shift can be – at any age.

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Rain making up for it in my make up chair!

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