Having been an infant massage instructor for the last 2 ½ years I have been privileged to meet many parents and their babies. I feel touched to witness such an intimate bond and see parents from all walks of life learning this skill to take forward well into their little one’s.
As a parent myself I have attended my fair share of baby groups. In fact, with my first daughter I went to at least 6 a week. They were my salvation but also the place I would compare notes, establish if what my daughter was doing was ‘normal’ and a place to meet other mothers. However, they were also a place where, unwittingly, we would all compare.
Myself included. Asking one another if our babies were rolling/ clapping/ crawling/ smiling/babbling yet. And mostly if they were sleeping. The groups that offered me so much in one way were also a place where I often felt alone if my baby was the only one not doing any of these things. Another thing I noticed as my daughter grew was that there were hundreds of ways people chose to parent, and whilst at first these were discussion points, for example, “oh you don’t breastfeed?” or “you put your baby to bed at 9pm”. They also became judgements. I too was guilty of this. Imaging those who made different decisions to me to be ill informed or plain wrong. Sometimes these different approaches seemed insurmountable and almost like a barrier to friendships.
However, this was a stark contrast to massage classes. In these classes there are of course different approaches. Some mothers co-sleep, whilst others had babies in their own room from 2 months. Some mums breastfed on demand, others fed to a schedule. Some believed that cuddling a baby may spoil them, others felt that you cannot spoil a baby and chose to use baby wearing as a way of constantly having contact.
Yet when it came to massage none of this mattered. I realised that it wasn’t important what each of us believe is the best way to raise our child. We were all coming from the same place. A place of love and wanting the best for our child. While our methods varied our fundamental principals were the same. And through the power of touch we were able to have that time to connect and bond with our baby regardless of these differences.
I have seen the tenderness that the mother, who is afraid she can spoil her baby, gives when she connects through touch. I have seen the look of love in the mother who is sleep training.
I have seen the beautiful connections between a mother and her infant when she is massaging their body, that none of this matters. It has taught me to re address how I see the world and my own stance on parenting and empathy to other parents. I am learning that judgement helps no one and different approaches enrich the fabric of society. For if we were all the same and raised in one carbon model where would our diversity and individuality come from?
Massage cuts across all the parenting models, all the beliefs about what’s best for a child and evokes something much more primal and intuitive. It is about the basic touch from one human to another. That connection, through the skin. The bond and link between parent and child.
It is an honour to be part of sharing this with so many families.