By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik at Home, LLC
Have you ever heard this saying? It wasn’t one I knew or used in conversation until recently. The dictionary definition says, “If you sort out a problem immediately, it may save a lot of extra work later.” That sounds great.
But it’s not always possible.
Some problems just can’t be seen or fixed ahead of time.
Before having a baby, my calendar was scheduled to the brim with my career. For me, this included all things involved in working as a singer/songwriter, church music director, and piano studio owner.
My daily events were calculated, controlled, and fulfilling on a daily basis. Yes, many days were wrought with stress, but all in all, there was measurable predictability. My availability to meet the day’s demands was sure and certain. There was a sense that the sky was the limit for my work output as long as I gave it my all and put in the time.
After having a baby, my goals remained high, but my schedule became totally nebulous...like a sea of gray unpredictability. Everything I had felt I could control about my daily activities from morning to evening was gone. As glad as I was to be a new momma to my beautiful daughter, I didn’t have a clue what was actually happening to my career aspirations. I thought I could keep up with it all AND be a full time mom.
There are only 24 hours in a day. How did I imagine I could do all of the same things and do it all well? The crazy thing was… and maybe I am the only idealist momma who has been blindsided by this, but… I. Didn’t. See. It. Coming. This was my problem that I couldn’t foresee and couldn’t stitch ahead of time.
My new, and sudden reality was that I had to give up some of my aspirations and I had to discover what mothering is truly about.
My husband stayed home from work for four weeks to help me with my recovery from a very painful, complicated C-section.
His first day back to work, and my first day on my own with my daughter, I attended a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting at my church. The group is made up of moms of children ages 0-5. There are “mentor moms” who sit at each table to help new moms navigate the rough seas of motherhood. I had an amazing time at the meeting! I saw many good friends, felt encouraged, and enjoyed being surrounded by likeminded people.
Then I got in my car with my daughter to go home.
It started sinking in:
My husband isn’t here to help me juggle things. There’s no schedule. No planned, controlled events for the rest of the day, week, or months of my maternity leave. What in the world do I do with myself… and her?
I went home in tears. The start to my new life as a mom felt blank and gray rather than rosy, cherry red.
I made it home, pulled my daughter’s carseat out of the car with her little sleeping self in it, and enjoyed a few moments of quiet.
Then she woke up.
Again the thought raced through my mind, “What do I do with her? I really have no clue what I am doing. Can I even do this? What if I mess it all up?”
In that moment, I decided to turn on some music. I somehow remembered that yes, I was in fact a trained Musikgarten teacher, licensed and certified to teach music classes for babies and, YES! I actually had music specifically for my little baby girl right there on my ipad.
It’s amazing what a new momma can forget on so little sleep trying to conquer the seemingly uncharted gray sea of an unscheduled life.
Then, in that moment, everything changed.
The mood of the entire house seemed to come to life with vibrant, joyful rhythm and motion. The music seared an entirely new modality into my exhausted mind and body.
Right then and there the gray disappeared and shades of kelly green, petal pink and sunshine yellow washed over my heart and mind.
I picked up my 4 week old baby girl and began to twirl her around the kitchen to the endearing, lively tune Dance a Baby Diddy. (I had just given her a bath in her little puj tub -- and she was oh so cute!)
The music made me feel empowered. It made me feel for the first time, “I’ve got this… I can do this thing called motherhood. I can sing. I can dance. Yes, I can sing to my baby and dance with her whenever I want to! How cool is that!?! Just me and her. We’ve got this! Even if I mess this up entirely, I’ll mess it up with music playing!”
These words took hold. They started replacing the feeling of, “What did I get myself into here? Do I have what it takes to be a good mom?” with, “This is fun!”
This is what babies naturally love. I could make this mommy-daughter date happen EVERY day!
To stay afloat in the mix of it all, I set my mind to learning my baby’s language of play.
Turn on the music, use my voice to sing, dance my darling around the kitchen...whatever it took to engage my little one in musical play, from that moment on, became my goal.
My prior career goals of coordinating church music, sitting down to practice my instrument, or to write a song were still important to me, but so was my new life with daughter.
I couldn’t continue doing everything the same way and there was no pretending I could do it all (well, I did try for several months after returning from maternity leave and failed miserably to balance it all!).
So, while I didn’t see it coming, I learned what it was going to take to allow my heart to survive motherhood and to stop myself from sinking into the sea of unpredictability that seemed to surround me. Granted, every new mom’s experience is different.
For me, I needed to keep joy front and central.
Music helped me do just that.
Music is more than a momentary fix, it’s a companion for us and for our babies.
The music we choose can reach into some of those deep places in our hearts to boost us into our many mommy moments with renewed motivation.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but by choosing to bring music into my life as a new mom and to pass its joy to my baby, I was combating the mire of postpartum depression that was working hard to make its way into my life.
Living life with music can be the difference between discouragement and joy.
Rather than sinking down, the music in my home provided uplifting confidence to enjoy my moments with my little one rather than dread the difficult ones.
Music can accompany even the most difficult moments.
I began thinking of proactive ways to wield its power to steer my emotions.
Playlists! I started creating playlists not only with music for my baby girl, but with music I love. Yes, music just for me --To nurture my soul and make my heart sing even when my circumstances spiral out of control.
And the age old proverb still has wisdom to offer.
The stitch in time I want to sew is this:
Choose music that will uplift your heart and mind. Choose music with lyrics that will sear encouraging, empowering messages onto your heart.
And while you’re at it, why not engage your little one in musical play -- your child’s natural language of play.
Because as you stitch music into your lives, it will not only change the entire mood of the moment, it will give your baby all the neurological and developmental benefits that come with active musical play.
So, let’s take a deep breath.
And long exhale. Sigh.
We are all in this together.
Have you had an experience as a new mom that helped you navigate?
Have you seen the positive effects of music in your life and in your baby’s life?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
If you're on maternity leave right now, an awesome way to invest in your little one is to try one of our free online music classes at a time that suits you both. We'd also love for you to join us here for our full babies class series!
Let the music begin!!!
P.S. If postpartum depression is part of your experience, I know what you’re going through. I’m not intending in any way to say music is the perfect answer for coming through it. Postpartum depression is very real and very weighty. There is help. There are answers.
In my postpartum experience, I’ve found music to be a balm, a boone, and a beautiful way to keep my mind from dwelling on the overwhelming thoughts I faced as a new mom.
If you feel like you are so far in that you can’t see a way out, I’d love to encourage you to seek help. Call your doctor or your child’s pediatrician to express what you’re going through. They can point you to local resources that are designed to accompany you through your moments and days with your little one.
One of my favorite website’s for total mind and body recovery after childbirth is Fit2B. Here is one Fit2B post for any mama who doesn’t feel the energy flowing. Even in that place, let the words of a song you love carry you. Let the words of a lullaby you sing to your little one wash over you with calm. You will make it through this. There is light ahead.
P.S.S. Where to find great music? If you’re like me and you (1) think all the music on the radio sounds the same these days and (2) you want to hear the best of the best new artists, check out this brand new way to engage music and get paid for it. Introducing Crowd Music! Join as a founding member to secure your front row seat for upcoming releases by artists you won't hear anywhere else. I am on board because I think this is about to change the face of the music industry forever! Here's to more music in our lives!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for companies loved by everyone at Musik at Home, LLC.