OK. So this may seem terribly incongruent with the “infant massage” information you might be expecting to read about, but in my world EVERYTHING is interrelated. Everything. So I’ll start right off by saying that in this article, I’m pitching infant massage as an antidote to fast, frenzied, distracted parenting. There’s more to the story, of course, but these few paragraphs are devoted to something that I am passionate about: slow parenting, and slow parenting on OUR OWN terms.
As new mothers and fathers, my hunch is that you’re getting a taste of the various ways that life-before-kids is clashing with and harmonizing with life-after-kids. You may be feeling elated one day; terrified, overwhelmed or just plain pissed the next. Although my girls are 6 and 9 now, I have easy access to the beautiful mess I was as a new mom, and how I felt both the wonder and chaos of it all…the still moments…and a deep longing for routine, “me” time, sleep, a shower. Most of all, though, I think I longed for assurance. I wanted more assurance that what I was doing (or not doing) was truly the best for my daughters. Was it? I still don’t know. And I still sometimes quibble with myself as a mother almost 10 years later.
But enough about me. It’s my fellow parents I’m interested in, and especially those among us who are negotiating a new landscape of speed, distraction and data. Those digesting information and opinions at every turn. Publicly advertised rights, wrongs, dos and donts. A myriad of articles written by “experts” about parenting — always about kids who are not our own — which, as opposed to bringing a sense of steadiness and satisfaction in our own parenting — have the potential to uproot our already fragile peace of mind.
I’m straddling the line. I’ve had one kid pre- and one kid post-iPhone. I definitely have a love/hate with the iPhone. And note: I am not saying that help or information is a bad thing. Getting answers and learning from people around us is part of the game. Help, well — helps. I read the articles and sought solid counsel about all kinds of issues as a new mom. I still seek. I AM saying that I sense an insidious kind of deterioration happening both in my experience of life and mothering because I’m mired more in information than in my own life experiences. There are hidden price tags associated with too much of a good thing — information — and I worry that our trust in ourselves is being washed out by the voices of outside “authority" who always. Seem. To know. Better.
What to trust? And how to check out without totally checking out? How about making more meaning in our lives. Anchoring in our own experiences. How about simple, wordless connection? I wonder: how far have we strayed from ourselves in the pursuit of information and assurance about “doing it right?”
There is a middle way. Always.
Discernment and “unplugged” quietude can be critical components in finding it. Preserving and nurturing authentic connections to our intuition, our intellect, our hearts and the people we love can be game changers, too.
I am a massage therapist and a certified educator of infant massage, which means I teach people how to massage their babies. I demonstrate all the strokes on a doll and keep classes small enough to offer unobtrusive, one-on-one guidance as needed. I’m new at teaching, but I am deeply moved by the simplicity and profundity of babies and body work.
Most of all, I love that infant massage “works”. Babies thrive with positive touch. Blocks of trauma are released. Tension melts. All physiological systems are strengthened. Neurological lights fire up. Bonding deepens, and a whole new world of reliable, fascinating communication opens up for parents who take the time to learn this beautiful, ancient art.
The woman who founded The International Foundation of Infant Massage is Vimala McClure. I’ll tell you more about her in class, but she writes:
"Be cautious about what the experts tell you. What sounds complex and clever may have no roots. Wisdom has no cleverness in it. It is pure and simple and when it is practiced, the results are obvious."
There is more to say; this is just a small window into the potential riches of this work, but I will leave much of that to you and your baby to discover!
Please contact me if you have any questions about this new, 2-class series. I hope to see you in a class soon.