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I have a secret. We bring salami into the JCC. Well, just the parking lot. It’s a necessity.

Let’s create some context.  I am Jewish. My husband is not. I don’t eat pork. My husband loves bacon. The original plan for our inevitable children  – “Christian Days” The days you were allowed to consume pork products. However we thought it might be confusing. Enter imaginary child.  “Mommy, how come Cynthia is eating Prosciutto on Monday? I thought Tuesday was the day we ate ham?” (Let’s be clear that I needed to do a Google search on what exactly prosciutto was to write that last sentence). So, we decided for ease that our children, whenever we had them, would not eat pork.

Then, we had children. And we soon learned, whatever they will eat is good enough.

That means if salami is the only thing you will put in your body, you can have salami. Lots of it. And your Jewish mother will proudly ask for it at the deli counter – thick slices please.

Meanwhile, our weeks end with Ballet Friday. There was one – only one class that would accept my little performer – the JCC.

Despite the fact that Ballet Friday is my daughter’s favorite day, she is fundamentally broken by this point in the week. After 40 hours of school, 15 hours of therapy, 10 car trips, 5 sleepless nights, and 1 costume change to get into a leotard, she is too exhausted to actually participate in dance class. But she really wants to – that is where the salami comes in. It’s like a Tupperware full of it, with some raspberries and an apple juice are the special elixir she has been waiting for. I recently learned about Spoon Theory and believe this best explains the situation. She only has a particular amount of spoons, or energy, throughout the day and when they are gone – well she breaks.

This is what breaking looks like:

Example 1:

It is February. I am 8 months pregnant with twins. She is wearing only a ballet skirt and a short sleeved shirt. No shoes. It is snowing. She is over my right shoulder, kicking and screaming, while I carry her bag, my bag, her coat on my left shoulder and kick her dance bag throughout the parking lot.

Example 2:

It is September. I am pushing a twin stroller with five month old crying twins which I perch my 40 pound daughter on the handlebars while she tries to kick me in the face. We do our best to walk in a straight line back to our car.

Example 3:

It is January. I am carrying two 25 pound babies in their 15 pound car seats up the stairs, leaving the double stroller at the bottom. I am reminding my daughter to stay still at the bottle of the stairs until I can come to get her. I am holding a dance bag, a diaper bag, a bottle bag, my purse, and the extra diapers we want to donate. I leave the babies at the top of the stairs, go down the stairs to get her. Carry her up the stairs. And repeat this for two more floors.

Example 4:

I am changing three sets of diapers while the dressing room fills with school age ballerinas. My daughter insists on wearing the dance skirt on her head. My sons have crawled in opposite directions, hungry hippo style, and it appears as if I am the one tracking poop around the carpet as I have recently sat in the diaper.

It has been two years and four sessions of dance class. The other patrons of the JCC see us coming. We have had two people hold open a door, one person carry a car seat down the stairs, fifteen, “Wow you have your hands full” and my favorite, five separate people have commented, “I feel bad.  I’m just standing here watching you.”  Don’t worry – we got this. I have my secret weapon.

Salami! I’m so sorry, JCC – there will be salami on the premises.

But just the parking lot. We promise.