A Girl Can Dream

En Pointe

En Pointe

I missed last Thursday`s run. Work, dinner, clean up, shopping took over. And then,just as I thought I might don my running gear, my girl came bounding down the stairs with her new ballet pumps.

“Don`t forget, Mum, you`ve to sew ribbon onto these”

Aaaarrggh! Of course I`d forgotten. And I hate, hate, hate sewing. And now I`d have to watch my chance of running ebb away like a luminously clad jogger disappearing into the distance.

It reminded me that running makes me selfish. Running sinks into your soul and while you curse when you`re out there, you`re frustrated when something holds you back. I`d missed the previous day`s run too. I know when I miss two days in a row I can feel Old Me setting in. Old Unfit Me. The Running Me who actually ran a marathon once starts to fade from view. Yes, it`s that fast.

I looked at the delicate footwear confections in my daughter`s hands, the perfect pale peachness of ribbons, and I looked at her: face shining with hope and dreams, longing to go en pointe like a real ballet dancer.

“Oh and there`s a video on youtube that shows you exactly how to do it! ”

Ballet has a way of slipping into a girl`s heart.

I remembered being twelve and wishing I could really dance. I`d only ever seen ballet on our black and white telly. And only if it wasn`t commandeered for a more interesting programme. For my four brothers, anything else counted as a more interesting programme.

Whatever little I saw of it, was enough to enchant me. I`d draw dancers en pointe, frozen in pirouette mode. I`d even try it myself, one arm resting on the back of a kitchen chair, en pointe on my school shoes. There were no ballet schools in rural Ireland back then. No ballet shoes. No tutus. And no record players. At least, not in our house.

Anyway, I`d have been more Miss Piggy….

Miss Piggy Lives her dream with Nureyev

Miss Piggy Lives her dream with Nureyev

…than Natalie Portman



I was content enough to draw and dream and wave my arms about to the music in my head.

And now, I get to see my kid dance. How thrilling is that?

Getting on your toes is a big part of the ballet dream. Then you finally get to feel like you`re a real ballerina.

But first Mum has to sew the ribbons on…

I watched the required youtube video. And painstakingly attended the task. Trying to recall the little bit of needlework Sister Attracta had drilled into my reluctant fingers when I was ten.

Then,as I got the hang of it, I imagined myself backstage with the corps de ballet. Chat and laughter about the evening`s performance, perhaps. Tension among those heading out onstage. The pounding of boards as the dancers leaped and landed. Swathes of satin and netting and feathers bustling about the place. Sweat. Tears. Music. Oh! the music!

And a little group of us, in the midst of that, removing layers of theatrical make up and stitching our ballet shoes.

I tried on the pumps when I was done.Why, my muscular runner`s calves took on a certain elegance when criss crossed with satin peachy ribbon. True, a leg wax would improve the overall effect. But, in a certain light, and in the dim distance, I might actually pass for a ballerina in those shoes.

Oh, a girl can dream.

I left my dreams of Swan Lakes and Nutcrackers and handed the beribboned pumps to my daughter.

“Great, thanks!” And she raced upstairs. Oh, I could understand her rush to try them on in the comfort of her bedroom. To pirouette and stretch and plié out of sight of taunting brothers.

But she paused midflight, and called down to me,

“Oh, and you also have to sew elastic onto each one. But don`t worry, there`s a youtube video to show you how”

Aaarrgghhh! I looked at my runners, tossed in the corner forlorn and neglected. There was no way I was going to miss the next day`s run. I would not going to let two bits of elastic, and a young girl`s dream get in my way this time. I would find a way to make an hour for myself And after that I would get the youtube link, watch the damn how-to-stitch-elastic-onto-pumps clip  and stitch those peachy pesky pumps again.

A girl can dream.

And Red Hen can have dreams of her own too.

17 thoughts on “A Girl Can Dream

  1. Pingback: How the Candy Cane Fairies Stopped My Advent Streak | redhenrun

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  3. Great post. I’m not a mum but can relate to the various demands on time and juggling it all to fit in training. Oh, and I can relate to the hating sewing bit too 😉

  4. you have such a great way of expressing that exact moment when motherhood beckons and the runner steps back. So hard to do, but how can you say no to ribbons and toe shoes?

  5. I love this blog and so relate. I bet Paula Radcliffe does not suffer such issues!? Reminds me of a letter my Dad wrote after I had completed marathon number 1, where he pointed out what an achievement it was, as managed to train, work be a wife and a mum, maybe I will look it out and share with the blogsphere. Hope you get out soon, until then just be content in the knowledge you are a great Mum.

    • Oh, how wonderful to have such a correspondence from your father! Treasure it forever. And thank you for your kind wors to me, both here and on your blog. I think it`s just that reading about other runners keeps running fresh in our heads and we also get to share the blood, sweat and tears involved. As for Paula, well, go to youtube and see if you can pick out that video that shows she has even more difficult problems of her own to cope with. Specifically, when needing to pee on a long run…

  6. Beautifully written.
    I read it to my wife and she thought is was cute.
    For us it was basketball shoes or uniforms, or socks…….. dreams of glory. All boys no little girls……. that is why our granddaughter is so special to my good lady.

    I loved reading this…….. well done.


    P.S my wife hates sewing also.

      • Big chunks of sewing were left up to me and it was not pretty! Mrs spider is good at it having been taught at school and having a step mum who was a seamstress, but she does not enjoy it. My stitches have been accused of being sharks teeth.

  7. Ah, you seem to be a great Mum RH. And running is flexible, there’s no need to be a slave to it. It’ll always be there, unlike your children who will soon be grown up.

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