17 May The parents of the baby class
As lovely as a baby class is, they can often be like a soap opera. An Olympic event. A circus.
There is an array of characters and participants present in these classes. It’s like a colour palette where every colour can be easily compared but on the other hand, all share the same purpose and good will.
From some years of experience, these are merely observations of the different types of parent you get in baby classes. I state here that no parent is right or wrong. No parent is better or worse. They’re all just parents with the same intention of doing the best job that they can with their baby. But they are all parents that are just a little bit different from each other. I use the word ‘mum’ in these descriptions for ease, but also because generally it’s mums that play a good part in these soap opera hours. You find that dads, grandparents, other carers just attend classes, get on with it and are not judged so much. So, these are the mums that you may come across in the baby classes you attend:
The mum that just does what she has to do:
This mum is fully aware of the everyday battles that we all face. She is aware that her child may or may not be doing what Ben next to her is doing. But it doesn’t matter. She knows that she is doing her best, and if that isn’t always perfect, then so what. She just gets on with it, without a worry and doesn’t feel the need to document every minute of her parenting journey whether it be good or bad. She does what she needs to do every day and that is enough for her.
The mum that everyone admires for being a soldier:
This is the mum that arrives at the class and everyone else thinks, ‘Wow, how does she do that?’ This could be an array of things. Her baby always cries but she deals with it impeccably. Her baby never sits still and complies with what ‘should’ be happening within the class, but she is laid back and deals with it impeccably. She has multiple babies; twin, triplets, quadruplets and they all need her full attention, but she deals with it impeccably and manages to get them all out f the car with ease and with no stress. This is the mum that everyone aspires to be. This mum, in all other mum’s eyes is a superhero and makes them realise and feel grateful that they have an easier ride.
The mum that admits defeat:
This mum arrives at the class, with her hands held high and her head held not so high and says with a sigh, ‘Is this day over yet? Is it really only Tuesday? I can’t handle any more of this today!’ The other mums look at her with a sympathetic smile and think, ‘God, poor woman, is her day really that bad? Her baby seems fine!’ In reality, most mums feel like this from time to time, but choose to sugar coat their parenting journey, rather than admit that actually, looking after your beautiful new baby isn’t always a breeze, it’s not always enjoyable. It is hard work and tiring and often Tuesday is the same as Monday and Wednesday is the same as Tuesday. This mum’s make those other mum’s realise that it is ok to to admit when you’ve had enough!
The quiet mum:
This mum arrives quietly to the class on time with a sweet smile for everybody. She joins in, albeit quietly, like a shy child, occasionally looking up for reassurance. She will join in with conversation but only pitches in when somebody asks her something. She isn’t there to compete; she is just there because that is where she wanted to take her baby. At the end of the class, she gets up with her baby, says a quiet goodbye with a subtle wave and returns the following week with the same agenda.
The mum with the genius baby:
This mum’s baby can do anything and everything. Her baby is only three weeks old but is already waving and almost crawling. Her baby has enjoyed every part of the weaning process and also slept through the night from a week old. Of course, this mum is proud (as we all would be) and wants everybody to know how clever her baby is, even if it means that the other mums will now worry about their baby’s development. Nobody wants to hear about the unrealistic milestones her baby has made months before the average child. And in all honesty, nobody believes her anyway. Did I mention that this mum’s baby could write his own name at 6 months?
The mum with the baby that doesn’t do anything:
This mum’s baby doesn’t sleep. He won’t eat anything. He won’t take milk from the breast. He won’t take a bottle. He doesn’t roll yet, or sit up, or crawl, or walk. He doesn’t do anything. He can’t even recite the alphabet! Oh, and he cries all the time. This mum has probably attended too many classes alongside the mum with the genius baby. This mum usually starts her conversation with, ‘You know what Tim is like, it’s a nightmare…’
The fun, crazy, ‘I don’t care what people think’ mum:
This mum is loud. She sings along loudly, laughs loudly, dances with her arms flying everywhere and makes a vast range of noises to her baby throughout the class. She might annoy or intimidate other mums because she really doesn’t care about other people’s perception of her. She might make other mums laugh. Ultimately, she is there at the class and thoroughly enjoying herself! Hat’s off!
The apologetic mum:
[To everyone] ’I’m so sorry she is crying, she is miserable today. She hasn’t slept today so I’m sorry she is grumpy!’ ‘[To teacher] Sorry he’s running around, [To baby] John, come and sit down, leave that baby alone, [To other mum] sorry if he is getting in your way, [To teacher] Sorry she is singing so loudly. [To everyone] sorry he is enjoying himself].
Take note: babies don’t do much wrong in baby classes. They’re innocent. They’re babies. Don’t apologise…It’s fine!
The mum that never turns up:
This mum turned up for the first week of the block of classes. She really enjoyed it and her baby was a bundle of smiles throughout. She didn’t turn up to week 2. Or week 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. But arrives for week 8. All other mums wonder why she hasn’t been coming. What a waste of money! This mum isn’t fazed. That’s how she rolls.
The mum that questions:
[Questions other mum] ‘Have you started potty training yet? What have you done? Where did you get those baby clothes? Are you going back to work? Do you do any other classes?
[Questions class teacher] ‘Why do we sing this song? Can you recap this for me please? Can you email me a list of songs to sing? What are the benefits of using the bubbles? What is the best way to do that? ‘
All other mums think, ‘Just let the teacher get on with the class, we are waiting.’
This mum just wants to learn. Teacher thinks, ‘Ask away!’
The mum that rules the world:
This mum attend the class every week, arriving on time, with a smile, with a baby that has napped, a baby that has been fed, a baby that has already filled his nappy and had it changed, a baby that is smiling and to top it off, she looks immaculate! Her hair is washed and blow dried, her make up is beautiful. This mum doesn’t brag, she doesn’t moan, she doesn’t need a break. Oh, and of course she has back up milk and snacks for the baby, just in case. Not that the baby will need them, because the baby is ruling the world too!
The normal mum:
See all of the above.
A parent can be present in these classes and get a feeling of humour, sadness, jealousy, resentment, annoyance, comfort. So, we all want to be the mum that rules the world, right? But don’t forget, this could be the only hour of the week where she rules the world.
What we have to remember is that these parents are just being seen by each other for an hour a week. What they see in this hour every week, bears little reflection on what their life as a parent is like every other hour of every other day of that week. Every parent is facing their own highlights and battles and that the parenting experience has it’s ups and downs for everybody. What differs is how everybody perceives these other parents around them. Ultimately, you are all in that baby class for the same reason. Because it is what you think is best for your baby and for you. You’ll both learn, you’ll both have fun. We are all parents in our own right despite being different and despite showcasing ourselves in a variety of ways.
As I said above, there is no right or wrong. And although you see these characters in baby classes, you will often find that they are looking at you too and have a perception of you. What type of parent are you?
I’ll answer that…a good one. One that is trying their best. One that is giving your baby what they need!