To My Littlest: I’m Sorry I Don’t Love Your Baby Music Class
- 14 November, 2017
To my darling second born,
Every Thursday, in the yawning gap between our morning walk and nap time, we pack up your snacks and I bundle you into the car, and off we go to our local mummy and baby music class. We sit in the circle and clap our hands and sing all the songs and you dance under the parachute and pack up all the balls, and you love every moment of it. But, my sweet girl, this is my guilty secret: I do not.
I love that you love it. I love your face as the Grand Old Duke of York goes UP to the top of the hill, I love teaching you the songs of my own childhood and I love seeing you remember more and more from one week to the next… I love all of these things. But baby, I do not love your Baby Music class.
Because you, my sweetheart, have the disadvantage of coming second. You have the disadvantage of a mother who has done this all before and whose mind is irretrievably elsewhere. Whose thoughts drift off to your big sister’s sports day and the school bake sale and what to wear this Saturday night as the mums in our music class discuss teething and relive birth stories. You have a mother who has forgotten what it was like to have just one child who turns the world round; a mother who knows that the heart is capable of doubling and then some, and who knows that this – whatever it may be – shall pass. Because, well, it already has.
In what feels like another lifetime, Baby Music was my whole world. It was my social life and how I broke up the long and lonely day with my first baby. It was my sanity in the chaos and cluelessness of new motherhood and it was a safe place to ask advice and share the burdens of sleeplessness and teething and potty training and tantrums in the supermarket. It was a lifesaver and I am so, so grateful for the chance it gave me to meet the women who would become my good friends and confidantes in those early days in the trenches and today.
But when I look back, most of my Baby Music friends in the early days were in the same boat as me – with one baby, and as inexperienced in the ways of motherhood as I was. The girls with two or more tended to keep to themselves and each other; they didn’t hang around for multiple cups of coffee after music finished, and they always adopted what I now recognise as a kind but vague expression if ever drawn into discussions about sleeplessness or teething.
Because they had places to be and other children to fetch and homework to oversee and swimming lessons to go to – and also because they knew that this too shall pass. They knew what we could not in those days: how much more was still to come.
They knew, as I do now, that this is where the disadvantage of coming second ends. Because you were born into a house of action and laughter and chaos and fun, and you have the advantage of a mother who has done this all before.
A mother who knows that teething is finite and all she needs to do is hold you tight when your gums are throbbing and your fever spikes. A mother who understands that tantrums pass far faster if they are met with hugs and kisses rather than tears of her own. A mother who all at once dreads you growing up and longs for it, because she knows how many more things are ahead which were beyond her wildest imaginings when she did all this for the first time.
You have the advantage of a mother who bundles you up and takes you along to the school bake sales and the swimming lessons and the harvest festivals, where you’re surrounded by big kids who dote on you and take your hand and say, “Come and play Baby.”
You have the advantage of a proud big sister who adores you and who brings far more fun to your life than I ever could have brought to hers when she was a toddler, just by being 4 and partial to getting dirty and finding caterpillars.
You have all these advantages and more, and this is only the very beginning.
The truth is we shouldn’t apologise for being exactly where we are. Thanks to your big sister I have entered the beautiful word of ballet lessons and dress-up and reading homework and discussions about using our kindness powers and choosing hairstyles in the morning. These are all the wondrous things I have to look forward to for you too, and by the time we get there I will know how much more there is to come as well.
In the mean time I drink in every precious, squidgy-thighed morsel of you for exactly who you are and where you are now. Because I am there too. I’m seeing the world through your eyes for the very first time and I’m constantly amazed by how different you make each experience – just by being you.
So we will keep going for walks to collect stones and climbing the wrong way up the slide and being almost two – until you’re not. And yes, I will keep taking you to Baby Music – even if I don’t love it.
I love you,