We all have those moments when we question the path we are on. Where instead of being a passenger in life, we decide to take the wheel and drive. My turning point came when I made the transition from chef to remedial massage therapist.
This very welcome career change happened at the same time as I became a mum, so I naturally decided to specialise in massage treatments for women from pregnancy through to postnatal and beyond. To offer ‘a little something extra’ to my clients, I also decided to enrol in the First Touch Infant Massage Program.
Half way through the first day, I understood how this program would help me to fully appreciate the parent-baby relationship and discover each baby as a person in their own right. I was hooked! This was more than ‘a little something extra’.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr Seuss
As a mum of two bright, beautiful and tiny girls, I was both awed by what I was hearing and saddened to think that this amazing tool – this gift – had been right there at my fingertips when I had been struggling the most. I just didn’t know that it existed.
For me, the awe of infant massage was in understanding the importance of mindfulness and communication with our babies right from those first days. How we handle parenting and connect with our babies in their first weeks, months and years can have a profound, lifelong effect on them.
What I wish I had known as a first-time mum
As a new mum, I found myself swimming in a sea of the unknown. My confidence was low and I second-guessed my every move, but slowly I began to read this little person.
The second time around – to my surprise – was harder than the first. This second baby also came with her own unique manual and, once again, I didn’t understand the language. I had to learn and, thankfully, both of my children were excellent teachers.
During First Touch training, I sat in wonder as I recalled various moments with my babies. I realised how I had misread so many situations with my girls. Oh the anxiety, the advice, the judgments and the jumbled emotions we parents are thrown into and drag our perfect, untarnished little people through.
It would have been nice to have the path smoothed out a little and the guilt alleviated from ‘failing to routine’ my children. I would have given myself permission to enjoy those early days so much more.
What I have learned through infant massage
The program has given me so much more than tangible techniques to massage my children. Now as I teach infant massage, I am continuing to learn from every baby in every class.
Through infant massage, I have found a key to fast track these important parenting comprehensions:
To trust my instinct as a parent
Buying into mothers’ guilt distracts us from the good times
My daughters really are my best teachers
Massage helps us to maintain our connection with children as they grow
Mindfulness alleviates anxiety and creates more joyful moments each day
Why I am now a better parent
While I knew that parenting should not be a constant second-guessing process, it took me a while to reach this point. Don’t get me wrong, second-guessing will always be part of every parenting journey, but I no longer overthink every little thing and I have confidence that even if I get it wrong from time to time, I am doing my best and everything is mostly alright. My three-year-old certainly knows how to test me, but with the mindfulness tools I now possess, I can handle most of the frenzied moments without having a meltdown myself.
The First Touch Program gave me permission to breathe. Between massage, mindful parenting, listening and communicating, and building a confident, self-forgiving parenting technique, my life as a mum is richer, and so is the childhood I am creating for my girls. I am a work in progress, and shall remain so as long as I am a parent. We all are.
I use massage to ease the anxieties of my eldest, to calm my children before sleep, and to help my youngest relax and tone her digestive system. Now my youngest comes to me for a massage when her tummy hurts because she knows it can ease the pain.
The gifts of this program are for keeps, ready to grow and adapt with my family. But I don’t want to keep them just for myself – I am passionate about sharing infant massage with every family, so that they can also experience just how wonderful parenting can be.