Initially posted for Zavaleta Studios.
The thing is, raising young children is isolating. We've all hear that old and tired adage "it takes a village to raise a child." Now if only we had a dollar for every time we wondered where the hell our villages are.
When you're tired because you woke up at 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and then at 7 for the day, you need people. Maybe you have enough people helping you, but its hard for me to imagine and I've got a mother who washes bottles like nobody's business and an aunt who likes to cuddle on her days off and lots of friends looking as bleary eyed from babies as they did from vodka-tonics. I mean I do have twins, but I think I'd need a nap even if there was only one, and especially if one of them was a toddler. In truth, I like a good casserole as much as the next sleep-deprived parent subsisting on dehydrated yogurt drops their child rejected, but more than that, I need others who are debating baby led weaning, preschool enrollment, and the merits of books like "Go the f*ck to sleep." It seems weird, but this is exactly where music comes in.
For decades and decades, cultures of people have turned to the arts in order to understand how they belong in the world. We need the arts- music, painting, theatre, basket weaving, and the like- in order to make sense of ourselves. In worlds different than the one I inhabit, women came together and sang with their babies on their backs. I so often long for that kind of camraderie- just to know, that others are where I am, and others were where we are, and others will be where we are- just to know, there is a pattern to the madness, some kind of rhythm associated with dumping organic purple carrot-beet puffs onto my childs' high chair tray, only to have her discover that is she slams both hands onto the tray, she can bounce said puffs several feet in the air and sometimes the dog can catch them.
But in all seriousness, we need community. We need to feel like we're part of something bigger. For decades and decades, in villages and cities around the world, music has served as that connective tissue: the conduit for building community practices, cultures, and knowledges. In that tradition, we run our baby/child music classes: incorporating songs and sounds and instruments from Mexico, Cuba, the US, various African countries, and elsewhere, we play djembes and shake maracas, we sing in English and we sing in Spanish. The hopefulness of singing off tune (I promise to be horribly off tune and unable to keep a beat, so don't get nervous) bleeds into the conversations about child rearing and what it means to mother, to father, to raise children at a moment that is complicate and digital and busy like never before. So take a break. Come on down, sing, play, and explore.
Check out our classes: http://www.zavaletastudios.com/#!familymusica/osrd5