Farewell Baby Classes

Letting go

SG Buckley

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Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash

I just went to my last mommy/baby class, the kind where you sit in a circle, kid on lap, singing songs and clapping. My daughter is too big.

Some readers may remember me whining about these very same classes a year ago. I didn’t think preschool classes should be run like IKEA, where customers (i.e., parents) do all the work.

You go to swimming lessons and it’s you in the pool — not the trained instructor — pushing your child on a float and trying not to think about the dubious science of swim diapers.

I figured if I paid people to teach my child something, they should get on with it while I enjoyed a cappuccino with my new mom friends. But now, here I am on the last day of Sing and Sign, and am near to tears.

Doting parents will tell you the best age of their children is whatever age they are. But that age when they fling themselves with total abandon into your arms and remain happily on your lap, clapping soft little hands, is hard to beat.

I remember that first class. I was in the park with my daughter. She was just over a year old. I saw a group of moms heading into a pavilion. The sky was gray and threatening to rain, and so I followed them.

It was a Sing and Sign class, where children, who don’t yet speak, are taught to sign their desire for milk or more food or a fresh diaper. The teacher, Joanna, let us stay.

I’d tried other mommy and baby classes, but was always put off by the chirpy types who tend to teach them.

Joanna was different. She had a droll sense of humor, while still being sweet with the kids. She wasn’t controlling. If a kid wanted to sit in a corner and bang his tambourine against the wall, she’d let him.

Sign language was only part of the lesson. The children learned how to follow simple commands — march, clap, shake a castanet — and most importantly, to play nicely with others.

Sing and Sign gave us moms a break from our daily routine.

What I loved most were the hugs. My daughter would be orbiting other children as if she’d forgotten all about me. Then she’d catch my eye, and come toddling as fast as she could to fling herself into my arms.

I’ll sit through a lot of happy clappy for that.

So there I was the last morning singing (and signing) the “Time to Go Home” song for the very last time, and feeling embarrassingly close to tears. I kept it together by thinking first of work and then of how mortifying it would be to blubber in front of a bunch of British mums.

It turns out, though, I wasn’t alone. The passing of time is sad for us all. Every mother cried that day.

So much of good parenting is learning to let go. I just didn’t realize it started so soon.

[A post from the Flashback Series from when my daughter was younger.]

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SG Buckley

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.