Dance Steps

Let me just tell you, I have the coolest bloggy friends. No seriously, they rock. When I realized that this NaNoWriMo thing was no joke and would take up more time than I have, I put out an SOS to some of my best blog buddies. I asked if they’d be willing to guest post for me so that I could focus on NaNoWriMo while still keeping you entertained. And you know what? They all said yes! Because they rock!

I am very excited to introduce you to another of my very favorite bloggers, CDG from Move Over Mary Poppins. I stumbled across her blog (or did she stumble across mine?) shortly after I started blogging and I immediately fell in love with the way she uses words to describe a situation that you feel your standing in the middle of. She is a nanny by day (to twin toddlers and an infant), a mommy 24/7, and a writer when time allows. I asked her to guest post for me, and she said yes. Then she told me she is also doing NaNoWriMo! I don’t know how she does it all, but she does and she does it well.

CDG has been a HUGE supporter of my writing efforts, and I can never thank her enough for that support. CDG, I’m sending you lots of hugs and thank you’s!

Dance Steps

I am only graceful when I hold babies.

I come fresh to this realization nearly every day.

With an infant on my left hip, there is no end to what I can accomplish. One handed, I am a dancer. I know the steps cold. I don’t need to hear the tune. The rhythm permanently resides in my bones. I can lead any partner, but I am a terrible follower.

Left unencumbered, I am bereft of grace.

Case in point, I can float through a day with two three-year-olds and a seven-month-old, swooping to retrieve dropped teethers, gliding past careening preschoolers. At the end of such a day, with only my own physical presence with which to contend, I am likely to splash myself with boiling water while straining the pasta, trip going up the stairs, shut my finger in a door jamb.

I have never been particularly elegant in my movements, but this phenomenon is a souvenir from ten years of babies, ten years of shifting my hip to settle a tiny human, ten years of re-centering my gravity to compensate for a clinging or sleeping child.

I am, quite literally, off-center when I’m not parenting.

There is a muscle memory to motherhood, even when I’m mothering children other than my own. There are movements so specific, so familiar to the rhythm and structure of my days that I’m hardly aware that I do them anymore.

Swinging an infant up from the play mat in a giggling arc, hitching a sobbing preschooler’s legs around my waist, tucking his head into the crook of shoulder and neck, the better to smooth his hair, holding more plump little hands than I have hands myself while crossing the street, swiftly crouching to scoop up and comfort a fallen toddler; these are the dance steps of parenting.

I would not have thought, before I was a nanny, and then a mother, and then a nanny again, that this would be my dance.

But it is telling that in nearly every other aspect of my life, I am a disaster waiting to happen, a danger to myself and others.

This is my truth.

I am only graceful when I hold babies.
Sigh. Do you see what I mean? Every time I read her words I love them even more than before. Now you can go check out more of her writing at her blog Move Over Mary Poppins. So what are you still doing here?!

Thanks again CDG!

And so it goes…


  1. Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip says:
    Beautiful post. Very lyrical. Almost like a poem. My favorite line? "There is a muscle memory to motherhood." So true. So very very true!
  2. The Empress says:
    I feel the same way.

    One big reason I love Move Over,is the way I am able to relate.

    I know , always, what she speaks of.
  3. This was so beautifully written - wow! The descriptions are so vivid and familiar.
  4. This gave me a smile. It's so true.
  5. Beautifully written! Unfortunately, I don't have grace even with babies. :)
  6. this is very beautiful and truthy.
    your own truth. not to be denied.
    but i don't actually believe it.
    for me, i mean. about you.
    i see other grace in you, love.
  7. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:
    I definitely feel off when I'm not parenting. Nice analogy!
  8. It is a beautiful, beautiful dance.
  9. The Flying Chalupa says:
    What a wonderful and appropriate comparison! This post was like a dance in itself. Lyrical, expressive, elegant. Bravo.
  10. You know what I love?

    I love the sight of a woman with no children.

    Standing and rocking.

    As though she is holding a child or an infant.

    Unaware of her movement.

    Finding her rhythm.

    Without her partner.

    Love that.

    I have done that.

    Happy sighs.
  11. Beautiful post, Natalie! You sure pick yourself some fine blog buddies. Thank you for sharing them with us!
  12. Oh wow.....this was beautiful. I'm new to Mary Poppins' blog as well, but this piece took my breath away. And made me feel badly because even with my twins on my hips, I was neither graceful nor competent.

    Lovely writing.
  13. Cate @ RealLifewithKids says:
    CDG is awesome - as are you, Natalie!
    This post is so lyrical - to use another commenter's word. That is perfect for this. I have done what Kris mentioned - swaying with empty arms - my body remembering the rhythm even though my first baby is 1/2 an inch shorter than me now.
    I think that a mother's love is always graceful. Ahem - not always obviously so in the tween years, I'll admit. :)
  14. what fab friends you have. and i wanna do this dance. gracefully :) [keep writing girl! GO NAT!]
  15. says:
    Thanks, Natalie, for such a generous and lovely intro. It was a pleasure too write for you!

    And keep up the novel. Can't wait!

    Also, thank you to everyone for your kind comments!
  16. So true! I find that even when I'm not holding a baby I rock back and forth, back and forth. And then I feel like I've forgotten something and I don't feel whole again until I am again holding my own baby.
  17. So true and beautiful! It's funny how we moms accommodate ourselves around our children. She put it so eloquently in words. Love this
  18. CDG -- Sometimes when I read your words, I feel as though we are sitting down together over a glass of wine, just the two of us, and you're simply talking to me. Oh, how I adore you.
  19. Perfect post!! I especially love the last line "I am only graceful when I hold babies."

    They bring out the best (and worst) in us, don't they?


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