The Zen Art of Tap Dancing or How Gene Kelly Saved My Life


“You should go out, get a night away from the kids each week.”

My amazing husband is standing in the kitchen drying a dish and I’m standing in the living room suddenly being faced with a huge challenge. A night out? A night each week to get away from the kids? Yes, it’s easy to physically leave the house and physically leave my children for a few hours each week, but mentally? That’s another situation all together.

This was an interesting “experiment” that my husband had suggested. The question being placed before the men in labcoats is whether or not I, the neurotic mother that I am, could actually leave, mind and body, my children for a few hours each week. OK, let’s see scientists.

The reason for the experiment? I had relapsed into a pretty nasty bout of post natal depression after the birth of my daughter, was on some great meds, seeing a therapist once a week, but there was a piece of the puzzle that was missing. This experiment was to find out what that piece was.

The first few weeks would find me at the movies. Movies have been a love of mine since I was a child. I had no problem going alone and found that, yes, for the hour or two that the movie was playing out, I could put the kids from my mind. But then when the lights came up and the horror of how much candy or popcorn I had consumed during those two hours was revealed, I was left feeling just as anxious as before.

What was the solution?

Then thanks to my son’s newest obsession, the answer came to me. My son had become infatuated with tap dancing, more specifically Gene Kelly tap dancing. “Want to see Gene Kelly.” Every morning, my son would ask to see clips of Gene Kelly dancing, on YouTube, on Amazon, anything. He got hooked on dance routines from the movie Summer Stock and Anchors Away.

I didn’t mind this obsession because I remember having the same one when I was a kid. I dreamed of being able to dance just like him. The athletic way he moved and the speed of his feet, it was hypnotic. It was then that that missing piece was revealed. Tap dancing. I hadn’t taken a dancing class since I was six and the challenge of throwing myself off the deep end into something that I could practice each week, something physical, something I knew nothing about was exciting.


I signed myself up for classes through Flynn Arts.

Tap. I bought my tap shoes. They’re beautiful. Off I went to class.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the experiment has been a sucsess! I, Meredith “I Dial my Neuroses to Eleven” Gordon, did not think about my children for an hour, broke a sweat, met new people that had nothing to do with parenting and gave me a “project” to work at during the week.

I’d like to think that the triangle of support is now complete. The meds, the therapy and the new mental outlet. Only time will tell. But for now, it seems to be and that’s all that matters. So if you need me I’ll be practicing my shuffle for the end of semester showcase and baking “I’m Sorry” cookies for our downstairs neighbor.


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