That I had mixed feelings about taking my kid to Music Together (MT) has been made more than obvious by three previous posts on the matter. In Things No One Tells You About Having a Second Child, I wrote about how annoying I found all the ridiculous “dance” moves and felt like I was getting stupider by the minute sitting there pretending I was having a great time for my child’s sake. In Concerted Cultivation: What Middle-Class Parents do for their Kids, I described how in taking my son to Music Together, I was fostering in him a love and appreciation for music as a stereotypical middle-class mother and finally, in one of my latest posts, A SAHM’s Conflicted Relationship with Music Together, I went into more detail about my internal struggles and external performances as I tried to transition between my personal and professional identities during these classes.
Now, here’s a fourth post about Music Together. For someone who clearly has an ambivalent relationship with this program, I sure do write a lot about it. Perhaps, this is because this program has come to mean a lot to my kid/s and me. From looking at the program as merely something for us to do together to seeing its results playing out in the everyday rhythm of my son’s life, I have come to covet it somewhat as a metaphor for some dominant aspects of our lives – a life of many emotions navigating the roller coaster of fun, entertainment, active engagement, learning, repeating, faltering, steady-ing back up, and eventually resting down for a lullaby as the session winds down for the day.
Yes, I did indeed struggle with accepting MT as one of my new life’s realities but it wasn’t MT’s fault. I simply wasn’t ready for it. Until we walked into our first session, we were doing our own thing in a new city and I was begrudgingly accepting my SAHM identity, but enrolling my son in MT and participating in all the activities with him meant sealing my fate as a bonafide stay-at-home-mom. There was no turning back now. This was what my life had come down to and that was what bothered me about this program.
With every silly movement or as I wrote previously, with every jump, hop, jog, skip, or run, I saw my professional identity slipping further and further back into oblivion. It was as if, the more I embraced MT, the more I was losing who I was as an individual, as a career woman, as a professional, as a non-mom human. Everything that I had worked so hard for and toward was slowly vanishing down a glory hole even as we sang about some fictitious train that was bound for its own glory.
In the end, I did make my peace with it. I even started looking forward to the sessions once I realized just how much TJ was getting out of it. After all, the whole reason I enrolled him in this was for him, not for me. What I felt and how much I did NOT get out of it was inconsequential as long as TJ was getting something out of it. As long as music was influencing him positively and it was, I could totally pretend to be happy tagging along with him.
Eventually, by the time we were done with this session, I had a better appreciation for Music Together as well as the experience of having had this time with TJ. A few things made the difference.
HOW WE MADE MUSIC TOGETHER WORK FOR US
We started listening to the music CD that you get as part of your enrollment and that is sung and sometimes listened to as background music in class, at home. I had thought that TJ was oblivious to the music and didn’t care but when I noticed him doing the actions and movements that we did in class on his own at home upon listening to the music, I was very, very impressed. He had, after all, learned something. He had soaked it all in. He did actually enjoy the class even though he was very nonchalant about it. Who’d have thunk it!
Today, all of his preschool teachers have commented on just how much his personality shines through when they turn the music on. I am puffed with pride for my son and smile knowingly thinking that this early introduction to music may have had something to do with it.
By the 4th – 5th week, I knew most of the words to the songs so I was able to sing along with the teacher (which is encouraged) and participate more which added to my engagement with the actions and moves.
I got over my huge ego and learned to better deal with what was going on. I would have liked to write that I began to appreciate this time alone with my son but I hadn’t reached that clarity yet. Even though I knew this was something else, something special, and had really started looking forward to these sessions with him, I wish I had recognized it better then. I also blame my pregnancy for not being able to truly be present for my son in everything we did in this program.
Having made friends with some of the other moms helped. Having one of my friends already in class (she and her son were old pros at this and had been doing these classes a long time and she was the one, in fact, who had introduced me to Music Together) with her son was REALLY great. Since Evan was older, TJ looked up to him and liked watching him own the class 🙂
Aaron joined us in the listening of the music CD at home and had his own favorite songs. We ended up listening to that CD (still do) as a family and following the actions that the instructor taught.
When the Fall session rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to manage the class with a toddler and a baby so I attended the first session before enrolling. Baby E seemed to take it all in and enjoy it for what it’s worth but having had to skip her morning nap, she did tire out toward the end. I signed up later that week confident of braving whatever may come my way trying to manage two kids together.
So far, we’ve been doing alright. I do struggle to give my full attention to TJ because I have to hold on to Baby E since she can’t sit up on her own for too long yet. Meanwhile, some actions do need TJ to sit on my lap or hold hands with me which I can only awkwardly manage while having to lay Baby E on the floor.
When it is time to jump, hop, skip, run, or jog around the room, I hold E while TJ does whatever he wants right next to us. That he actively participates is more than I could hope for so I am grateful for that. The guilt of the whole new set up is that while previously, I couldn’t participate much with him what with being extremely pregnant and all, this time I can’t do it because I am holding that very baby. Either way, TJ is getting somewhat of a raw deal even though he really enjoys having his sister there with us.
Once when I laid Baby E on her back while I got up to put the shaker egg that was in her mouth in a separate basket, TJ who was somewhere in a different part of the room, ran over to his sister screaming, “Mommy, Baby fall down” and putting all his effort, pulled her back to a seating position even as I tried to tell him that she hadn’t fallen and that I had in fact put her down on her back. But I got to see his love again, in action. I got to see the attention and care he has for her even though he may very well pull her hair the next minute.
All said and done, I am glad I enrolled TJ in Music Together and I am even more thrilled that Baby E gets the added benefit of accompanying us every week, first in the womb and now in person.