Dancing with my son

In these special moments with my newborn, I discovered how becoming a mom changed everything.

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By Susan B. Townsend


I have always loved to dance. My mother used to joke that I learned to dance in utero. She often sang to me while she was pregnant, and both she and my father loved music — a passion I shared from a very early age. I grew up listening and dancing to a wide variety of music that included classical, popular, and even opera. Of course, once I reached a certain age, my music interests grew to include rock ’n’ roll, and my dancing was done with friends on Friday and Saturday nights. Occasions for dancing dwindled as marriage and work became the focus of my life. When I became pregnant for the first time, I watched in amazement (and more than a little apprehension) as the needle on the scales kept climbing. Dancing was reduced to a fond memory.

 

“Everything about your life will change,” a friend told me before my son’s birth. I smiled and nodded as if this was something for which I was completely prepared. Secretly, I decided she was being a bit dramatic. Surely some things about my life would remain intact, I thought. It didn’t take long for me to discover she had been telling the truth. I also decided she should have grabbed me by the shoulders and stared me straight in the eye to make sure I listened to every single word of her profound announcement. Despite the changes, I fell in love with my new son and my new lifestyle. My body returned to a somewhat modified version of my pre-pregnancy days. I learned I could stay in the bath longer than five minutes and overcome the worry that my son would stop breathing, and my life was restored to something resembling a routine. The only thing I truly missed about the old days was uninterrupted sleep. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. My nights, as well as my days, had been taken over by a tiny, helpless bundle wielding absolute power.

 

For weeks, I wandered through an exhaustion-induced fog, convinced that the person who said, “No one ever died from lack of sleep,” had been childless. Miraculously, the semblance of a nighttime schedule eventually began to form, and I found myself getting up to feed the baby only once — usually about 2 a.m. My body and my mind made some adjustments, too. A more regular sleep schedule did wonders for my attitude, and I began to spend these nighttime rendezvous getting to know a very complex and interesting individual — my son. Though they happened almost 20 years ago, I can still recall those times clearly. We’d sit in almost complete darkness, the house still and quiet around us. I’d stroke his almost nonexistent hair, trace his perfect shell-like ears, and marvel once again at his beautiful hands — so much like my mother’s — and his pudgy little feet with their toes that reminded me, for some reason, of kernels of corn.

 

One night, I realized that my son and I were not alone. We were in the company of thousands of mothers feeding and caring for their babies, each in their own blessed darkness and quiet, but all part of a special sisterhood, creating relationships that would last forever. Invariably, I’d smile and, in time, I was rewarded with a priceless gift when my son smiled back at me. Of course, we talked, although anyone observing us might think the conversation was completely one-sided. I may have been the only one using conventional words, but the baby spoke volumes to me with his eyes. It will come as no surprise to any mother that we understood each other completely. It was about this time that music videos became popular, and I began to turn on the television softly to enjoy some music during feeding time. My love for music had never waned, but it had been a long time since I’d been able to sit and listen to any.

 

I soon developed a liking for several of the hit songs that were in heavy rotation at that time, and one night as we sat there, I found myself feeling that once familiar urge. I looked into my son’s eyes and asked, “Hey little guy, wanna dance?” I stood up and moved around the room to the music. At first, the baby appeared a little apprehensive and I held him tighter for reassurance. His body soon relaxed and he smiled, appreciating the sensations my dancing produced. It was more than obvious to me that he was enjoying it as much as his partner. I found myself surrounded and enveloped not only by the music but also by a feeling of overwhelming and complete happiness. I still hear those special songs sometimes, and I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing and travel back in my mind to those moments of pure joy. And yes, sometimes I even get up to dance. CD

 

From A Bouquet for Mom by Susan B. Townsend, Copyright ©2006 F+W Publications. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Media, Inc. Co. All rights reserved.

Susan B. Townsend