For the past four Mondays, Noah and I have gone to a baby massage class at the local childrens' center. I put his name on the waiting list for this class a long time ago, but it was only recently that we got the call that we could get on to the current class. I hesitated to say yes, because the course advertises itself as being for "up to crawling age", and Noah was definitely on the move from Day 1 of the class. I'm really pleased we've gone, though, even if I am still not a very good massage practitioner, and Noah has spent the entire class trying to crawl away from me to go and infringe on the other, less mobile, babies' personal space.
It's a small class, with 7 mothers and their babies, and the teacher is a really sweet girl who has made it lots of fun for us. She starts off each class by asking us different things to share with the others. One week we told our birth stories, something which still fascinates me and brings goosebumps to my arms...I just love hearing about how a baby comes into the world, and even for stories which aren't the "ideal start", it's obvious that although it's very very important to how a new mother can feel about herself, her baby, and the early days of motherhood, the most important thing is getting the baby here, whether after 3 or 33 hours of labor, delivered at home or in a hospital, with or without drugs.
The next week she asked us to share what we thought were the best and worst things about being a mother. She asked us not to include sleep deprivation for the worst thing, although I was later chatting with a mum-of-two at our church playgroup and I think we decided the lack of sleep might indeed be the worst thing! My thoughts on worst were the feelings of no longer having any control whatsoever over how the day might go, and feeling as if I didn't really accomplish anything at the end of the day; second-guessing lots of decisions such as childcare; the best way to discipline; and (with a first baby) that feeling of trying to live up to the huge expectations I had about how wonderful every moment of having a new baby was going to be, and it being a lot more difficult, tiring and different than I'd ever imagined it could be. I think the best thing is just remembering that every single person was once a baby, and that I get to help shape a person's life and observe all the amazing milestones he achieves. This past week we had to tell how we chose our babies' names, and also share what the name meant, and I had to laugh at some of the meanings of Noah are "rest" (which he gives me little of these days), and "wanderer" - which definitely is a fitting description for him currently. Noah seems completely at ease with the other mothers (even if he's not paying attention to the massage); during the breaks he'll crawl into someone else's lap and then look around triumphantly as if he's just climbed Mt Everest.
Tomorrow is our last day of the class, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she asks us to talk about to the group. Even if I still don't know the difference between the Swedish and Indian milking strokes, it has been a good activity for us.