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My youngest daughter turned 6 just before Halloween. With a new job, Halloween costumes and laundry to do, I did something I’ve never yet done with any of my kids’ birthdays—I got some outside help. We had her birthday party at the Song of the Heart studio, with the help of Ms. Katie.
As I’ve talked to other recovering perfectionists, I’ve realized that there really isn’t any set standard of what is “perfect,” it just kind of depends on our own definitions of “ideal.” I’ve been doing “super-mommy” for many years (rather than “real life” mommy, which I’m discovering is infinitely more enjoyable). But for me that has meant having great home birthday parties—complete with making our own lasagna, or doing puppy face-painting, or walking the plank like pirates (all of which included Pinterest-worthy, homemade invitations). I shudder to think how much stress I inflicted on myself and those around me or how much joy I perhaps sucked out of the room in an attempt to make it joyful. (I also try to be kind to myself and realize that my kids, once they’ve had an appropriate amount of therapy, may figure out that I really was doing all of this because I loved them. Passionately. And that this was the best way I could show it at the time.)
While I recognize that other moms, long ago, have figured out the beauty of getting help with a birthday party, it was revelatory for me this year, and born out of necessity.
And I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.
My daughter has been totally into dolphins these days, so we did an ocean theme. Ms. Katie was fantastic, and the speedboats/Bilibos were a total hit. Afterwards, we had a little picnic lunch and cake at the studio. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously, and the girls ended the party reluctantly.
My older two kids (a 12-year old and a 9-year old) were at first way too cool to participate. Nevertheless, eventually they got into it and they contributed a lot of energy to the room (the giant scarves and the motorboats helped draw them in, for sure). It warmed my little mama heart to see them dancing as they used to, but of course now much, much bigger than they were when they participated in Kindermusik as students.
There were some activities that they hadn’t remembered doing (but which obviously I have lots of memories about, as I’ve written previously). Even still, I found it fascinating to watch my oldest daughter dance with a scarf. She has danced for many years in her post-Kindermusik life, so it was no surprise to me to see her move so gracefully.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe (and research will support my belief) that even her Kindermusik experience informs her current dancing abilities, even if she doesn’t remember the specifics of class with me. She’s had many, many years of practicing a variety of movements and learning to express herself through dance, and that started in our living room in New Mexico.
In Kindermusik, we talk about developing the whole child. Watching my older children, I started thinking that maybe “whole child” isn’t just about an education for the present moment—it’s also about the whole of childhood. As we approach Thanksgiving, then, I can definitely say I’m grateful for the opportunities for learning and growth that have come to my family through Kindermusik.