One of my goals as a parent is not to impose my own desires on my child. I’ve seen it happen too often that parents try to live out their unfulfilled dreams through their children, usually to the frustration of those children. The trick is: what’s the line between trying to revive a lost cause through your kid and just sharing your passions and hobbies with them?
I’m starting to realise the extent to which this is true since, spending a lot of time with my baby, I keep imagining possible futures for him. And unlike those moms who imagine their kids becoming doctors or athletes or lawyers or other important muckymucks, I’ve become convinced that my son has the right build to be a dancer. He has these beautiful, slender legs that I’m convinced will be long, he’s strong and seems to want to stand on his own despite his six weeks (tomorrow), and when feeding, sleeping, or just hanging out, his hands will fall into the most graceful shapes. For an example, see picture.
It’s not that I want or expect him to become a professional dancer, but I like the idea that he will enjoy dancing. The truth is though, even this quite basic and understandable desire is about me. You see, music and his reaction to it gave me one of the most important moments of joy, of connection as a mother, in the last few weeks.
Back track a few months. Baby — just a fetus at the time — was starting to respond to sounds and music outside the womb. My husband and I were watching Fatih Akin’s documentary of Istanbul music, Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul. I was lying on the couch, and my husband had his hand on my belly, feeling the occasional shifts and movements. Late in the movie, there’s a scene on the outskirts of Istanbul, in a bar filled with Romani musicians. The musicians are well sauced, and the music is frenetic. One of the Roma interviewed talks about the spirit of the music, how in hearing it, you simply have to get up to dance. When classical Turkish music is played, he says, people just sit and watch.
All the time, the song is rising in a crescendo, the baby is moving like mad, and when the final beat strikes, he gives a good, solid kick in perfect time! My husband and I both feel it and look at each other in amazement. This only grows in the next scene, a short of classical Turkish music — true to form, the baby stopped moving immediately and stayed still for the rest of the movie.
We joked many times later that he liked gypsy music. In fact, as a fetus, he tended to react to fast dance music in general. Fast forward to five weeks after birth. I am tired from interrupted nights and what feels like constant feedings. I am gradually growing in love with this beautiful little creature, but I don’t quite know what to do with him yet. Newborns aren’t very interactive, after all. And then, one day when I’m feeling down, I remember the music he liked in the womb.
So I get the iPod that usually plays rain sounds all night, search for some “gypsy” music, and play it for him while he lies on the bed. We listened to Romanian and to Flamenco music, and his little arms and legs flew in every direction. Sometimes I guided his movements, sometimes I let him just react to it on his own. And can I add that random baby flails sometimes look like flamenco arms? Just sayin’.
Maybe he was reacting to the music, grooving in his own baby way. Maybe he had no clue what was going on. I never can tell with him. But it was a real moment of connection for me, reminding me that the little boy who now runs my life was once in my womb, dancing in time to the beats outside.
Awesome. Babies are so tiny and helpless, that we sometimes need to anthropomorphize them to really bond. They do become real little people eventually… I love painting with my boys. They are truly gifted at fingerpaints, and the crayon scribble murals on my walls are…. uh, in need of a magic eraser.
When I was pregnant, my babies loved music with a heavy drum beat. I have not listened to so much Rush since that year in High School when “Closer to the Heart” was all over the radio
I know! They're really kind of personality-less at the beginning… black boxes. My son is adorable but he doesn't feel like a person yet. He's smiling, but I can't be sure he's smiling at me, even when he smiles in my direction. But I'm waiting with bated breath for things to get more interesting.
Rush! Rush for babies! Brilliant. I had this dream of playing Queen while giving birth… didn't happen, alas.
I was dancing flamenco when I got pregnant and still performing till to the fifth month. My tiny little belly was not noticed.Thzen I stoped dancing but not because of my pregnancy rather because the group broke up. As soon as I rested my baby inside startet to dance flamenco so I had to move again. Later when my baby girl was sitting in her little chair, she used to move her hands like playing palillos (castagnettes). When she was able to walk she loved to dance all the time, with music and without. With her slim long features, body and e.g. hands she did not become a dancer, rather studied biology but she still loves to dance. She would have liked to dance in musicals but there has been no way.
Barbara, what a wonderful story! They do hear the music, after all, even in the womb — I wonder if they feel the rhythm?