Mothers pray with our feet. We dance to a music inaudible to anyone else: a high-pitched keening that resembles the skull-piercing sound of a hungry baby, accompanied by the rhythmic bang of a sippy cup on a high-chair tray. To dance to such a sound takes practice.
Sometimes we are as elegant and precise as a ballerinas, as we carry a baby in one arm and work a combination lock with the other. Sometimes, we are sinewy and exotic as bellydancers, shaking our hips and flashing a belly exposed by a nursing baby who's pulled our shirts up in public. When running late, we jitterbug down the street, pushing the stroller and kicking out our heels in a Lindy Hop.
On other days, we do a clog dance as our hands are occupied with wiping and soothing, leaving only our feet free. Or we shuffle a slow dance, dragging from sleep deprivation.
Let's face it: many of us are square dancers: our hip-hop days gone in a closet of practical shoes and stained shirts. The only breakdancing we do nowadays happens when we trip over a toy. We do the robot, navigating woodenly through an endless routine.
Some of us dance an Egyptian funeral dance for our former bodies. We journey with the sun god through many days, carrying our leaking, bloated bodies, hoping for rebirth if we enact the correct diet and exercise rituals.
But with our toddlers, we also dance the bunny hop, jumping to music that only we can hear. When our children giggle, we gladly hop, hop, hop or crook our arms into wings for the chicken dance. We do the monkey, eek, eek, eek.
While we may long for the predictable gavot of our pre-child days, we discover new truths daily through the wild, silly interpretive dance of motherhood.
My toddler, Kung Fu Panda, does the happy baby dance.