The first day of Kindermusik was as nerve-racking as the first day of seventh grade. I found myself worrying about wearing the right outfit and dressing C in the right clothes. Would I like the other moms? More importantly, would they like me? I hadn't been doing this mom thing very long and I wanted new mommy friends so badly, I feared my desperation was palpable. I just wanted to be cool - except, you know, in mom form.
I nervously carried my six month old daughter in my arms as I walked through a giant baptist church, praying I wouldn't get lost within its halls. I entered a classroom and found a blanket spread on the floor and plastic egg shaped shakers in the middle. The teacher, Mrs. Jill, greeted me enthusiastically. She wore no shoes. What had I signed us up for?
I was early (a fluke that would never once be repeated) and I sat on the floor, legs crossed, shoes removed, with C perched in my lap, waiting for the other moms to arrive. She seemed as nervous as I was.
The other moms began to pour into the room, babies in tow. They all knew each other already. I was the new kid. (Seriously, it was seventh grade awkwardness all over again). But, they all greeted me and were genuinely nice. I secretly surveyed the group for my potential new mommy BFF.
Everyone removed their shoes, took a place around the perimeter of the blanket, and gave their child an egg shaker. The children ranged from six months to sixteen months, C being one of the youngest. I helped C hold a shaker in her tiny little hand and gently bounced her up and down in my lap as we sang a "hello" song. The song greets each child by name and I watched C light up as this new circle of strangers addressed her. Maybe this was a good idea after all.
Mrs. Jill reminded us that in Kindermusik, we leave our dignity at the door. I wasn't sure what this entailed. Then, shortly after this announcement, we were singing and square dancing around the room, babies on hips, weaving in and out of one another in a do si do. It was ridiculous. It was silly. It was loud. And Catherine loved it.
The rest of the class was filled with ringing bells, beating on drums, and even a few minutes of quiet time. I was amazed at how much stimulation (and physical exertion) was squeezed into the 45 minute class. We ended the class the same as we began, addressing each child by name. I had been pleasantly surprised by how much fun the class had been for both of us. But, I still needed to make friends. I was desperate to bond with other mothers. So, I started to join in the conversation as we all changed diapers, put shoes back on, and gathered our things.
Still painfully apprehensive about revealing C's hemangioma to new people, I adjusted her headband with a nervous frequency; but, once it revealed itself, and I regurgitated my usual spiel, I was met with nothing but positive and uplifting responses. Not a single person asked me what was wrong or if I had hit her head on something. No one even reacted much at all. It was at that moment that I realized we had found a new home. I may not have made an instant MBFF my very first class, but I had met a room full of genuine, accepting, and equally exhausted women, all carrying their own load of motherhood baggage.
We eagerly came back the next week...and the week after that... and the week after that... until it became the one constant each week. It was the one activity we didn't dare miss. I watched C grow up in this class. She started only barely sitting up on her own and we ended this past semester with her running around the room. She began with no friends and finished the year with a room full of friendly faces. I watched her learn to clap and to go and to stop. I watched her beat on a drum and shake a bell for the first time. I watched her light up with pure joy from the moment we stepped into the room and they sang her name. And, yes, I even picked up a few friends along the way. We sadly break for summer, but we will eagerly return in the fall to a new class, with some familiar faces and some new.
This time, we'll go without reservation, kick off our shoes, and gladly check our dignity at the door.