With the constant motion and dense days of being the mother to four young children in their primary years, I can barely remember the when and the why of my learning and practicing Infant Massage so many many moons ago.
The places, the faces, the strokes, the lessons. It was all part of a rag tag but premeditated effort to become a mother-to "follow my baby" and take on this role with confidence. I was hungry for anything that would ensure my journey was a success.
What a journey. What is success?
I know engaging in the communication that is Infant Massage with my first child led me to Massage Therapy School years later and I know it has been a constant in my parenting for over a decade, across time zones and cross country moves. My work with adult clients always reminds me that touch is indeed our first sense, that we all need it, so much more when we are sick or in pain, and especially as we get older and our lives more complex.
I know engaging in the comfort that is Infant Massage is at the core of my relationship with my children on the days they need or want touch, and perhaps more importantly, on the days they do not. In the evenings. After soccer or ballet. This morning. While traveling. Everyday. Almost.
Even the so-to-be teen will find a way to let me know when she needs that connection. One we build together.
To embrace my mindset from almost 13 years ago seems futile and almost a conceit. Among the growing influence of the Internet and more traditional outlets for facing this common unknown, I balanced knowledge with tenacity and bold experimentation to answer my own needs and those of this beautiful and ever changing baby.
A cluster of time that is a dull sharp blur has passed since that somewhat young mother stood clipping her fingernails into the sink that first day home from the hospital. My newborn baby was still learning to latch and my healthy body grew finger nails faster than I could cut them! But as I looked down at my hands and met my own gaze in the mirror, I knew those two things together were the key to honoring my baby's needs and I was ready! Or so I hoped.
Was I looking for strategies to be a more attuned parent and nurture an instinctive desire to communicate with my new baby? Surely.
Was I looking for an outlet to engage within my new town of Portland, Oregon and in my new role as stay at home mother so far from the familiarity and comfort of family and loving friends? Undoubtedly.
Was I fortunate enough to have a very supportive, but everso busy partner who encouraged me to explore all my options and opportunities? Gratefully.
Was I logistically lost and overwhelmed with emotions? Full of anxiety and fueled by exhaustion? Yes, yes and more yes.
I needed an outlet, a game plan. A reassurance.
Infant Massage allowed me that space. That community.
It was the beginning of a lifelong practice to be a better communicator with my children and others.
I had read Vimala McClure's book Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents while not dreaming away on sleepless pregnant nights or while commuting to and from work on the bus. It's premise that the language of touch communication and responding to the cues of children is both natural and innate reinforced my rational belief that responsible love for my new baby would be time consuming and often complex, while somehow relieving my growing fears that caring for this child would be one of the greater equalizers of my conceptions and abilities. But that with confidence, this work was mine to do. And to do well. With my baby as my guide.