Today I’d like to welcome Alison for “I’m Not a Bad Mom.” If you’d like to contribute to this weekly series you’ll find details here. And Alison, rock on girl.
I have never been more excited to receive such an honest Mother’s Day card from my child (except for maybe last year when he divulged my love of fast food and said for fun I like to go to the grocery store by myself). This mother’s day, he chose to celebrate the fact that we like to pole dance as a family. I think he feels that way because he has been part of my pole dance journey from the very beginning.
I became pregnant with my son during my first six week session of pole dancing. He grew inside me and brought with him relentless waves of nausea that just didn’t go well with spinning around. Since his arrival, he has been raised in a home where there’s a dance pole in the living room. When I practice, he wants a turn. He climbs like a monkey. We take photos and videos of our achievements. We pole on street signs and at the park. The pole is usually right next to the Christmas tree. I don’t take it down for company. It’s there, without apology, because it’s part of my journey in becoming a better parent.
I didn’t expect pole dance to impact my parenting, but it did. I am an introvert and analyze data during the day so my thought processes are very linear. Pole dance helps me bring me out of my shell and think more creatively. This mental flexibility allows me to better deal with the challenges of parenting and being less shy helps me connect with others and model healthy socialization for my son. I now have friends with common interests who are supportive and encouraging. Studies have shown that dance helps with problem solving and memory, which is handy when you have 500 things on your to do list and not enough time to do it all (something that happens frequently as a mom and a single parent). It is something I do for me to take care of myself, which gives me patience and emotional resources to address the needs of my son. My self esteem has improved through my achievements in moving from student to instructor. Pole dance has given my son and I an activity we both enjoy and this has improved our bond.
My son and I see our aerial activities as both dance and gymnastics (since our bar is vertical, not horizontal). This is exercise and healthy movement in support of a balanced lifestyle. The pole is a piece of fitness equipment, like a treadmill. My son is proud that I pole dance and his favourite game is “Can Mommy climb that?” He loves to watch me and learn new tricks. I am trained to spot him so he can perform movements without injury and I don’t let him do anything irresponsible or age inappropriate that is any more risky than things he does on the playground like any other kid. Safety is the first consideration as his future is important to me.
People ask how he will feel when he grows up and learns about the role of pole in exotic dance. I don’t work in that industry, but there is a perception that he may think less of me because I do what “they” do. I trust when he does make those connections that he will have learned from me that people are people and that it is not his place to judge anyone’s life choices. I also have faith that what he will remember about his mommy is that she is really strong, does cool things upside down, can open jars without assistance and most importantly, that she taught him to fly.
Alison Tedford is a single mom who is a data analyst by day, blogger and pole dance instructor by night. She records her adventures in fitness, dance and parenting on Sparkly Shoes and Sweatdrops, and on Facebook.