Letting go is easy. Just dance.

BY MIRABELLE D’CUNHA

letting go with dance

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a mother with a toddler has an intensely demanding life. At almost four, my LO has a clear sense of what she wants to play and how. My role and that of friends is clearly demarcated, including how we are to act, what we are to feel and when we are to do it. This can often be daunting, especially when I have much work to do or just want to sit down with my cup of chai.

Yes, she is also constantly observing, chatting and asking questions. At times when its too much for me, there’s only one thing that comes to the rescue…..music and dance. Good music facilitates an almost immediate letting go for everyone, specially for me and my little one. It helps us both support our needs without having to talk and the power struggle that can oft result between parent and kid just melts away.

I have spent many hours searching for good kids’ music to dance and listen to. In an overcluttered world, where traffic and Bollywood music with lyrics totally unsuitable for children badger our ears, having a home lit up with free flowing dance and laughter is just irrepressibly transporting. Every evening, we turn on the mood light and light a candle on the dinner table before our meal. On the tough days or the just we’re-so-happy-to-be- mummy-and-baby days, I either give her a massage with soft music playing and coconut oil mixed with lavender essential oil or we just play music and dance…..however we want. It could be Hanuman Jump by Jai Uttal or Composers Write Music or The Wiggles; we just let our hair loose and dance. There really is some great music out there for kids. The music, the dim lights, the candle burning…….and us letting go.

Kids need catharsis too in these busy times where despite our best interests, we sometimes run around like headless chickens.These dance jams of ours are so rewarding,  it led me to create collective group experiences through The Rhythm & Soul Playshop and to create my own songs with an Indian twist that I’m eager to share soon. They have helped me share with her and other kids at the schools I do playshops at, how to let it go, let it flow. Simple stuff this; instead of telling kids to stop fighting/pushing, just giving them breathing tools to facilitate that through a dance-along song. It’s all about integrating breathing into everything.

When we dance, we adapt to the pace and feel of the music, we trickle into its nuances, we settle into its steadiness, we are excited with its rhythm and we paraglide with its melody. My husband and I dance too, with the little one taking turns to partner us or just making a circle dance. We have danced together at weddings with her wrapped in a mei tie sling, we dance when laziness has overtaken us into a space of restlessness on a weekend. We have danced on the streets of Istanbul to the duff and have inspired musicians to play the only ..errr… Bollywood song they knew. We dance in the rain and with our arms flailing with wild trust in the winds whose majestic power we seek to harness in those wide upturned arms. We sway and dance when we cry together, we dance because we trust, we dance because it is the only effective way we know to surrender, we dance because there is gratitude, surrender and celebration in every micro-moment that we harness from this mad rushed overwhelming pace of Mumbai life.

About the author:

Mirabelle‘s life purpose is to facilitate experiences of joy and reverence. She does this primarily through children’s entertainment storytelling, dance-alongs and yoga. She is also author of the best-selling children’s book “366 Words in Mumbai”.
Advertisements

What happens to friendships after baby ?

It was Friendship Day recently and although I am not the kind of person who subscribes to such things, I found myself thinking about and examining my friendships after baby, since that’s what my life stage is right now, and feeling grateful for the ones I have still managed to hold on to.

Friendships after baby

Dawn tea on Kovalam beach

What we perhaps give very little credit to is the rites of passage in friendship: Your politics. Your feminism. Your taste in books, cinema, people. Other friends. Bad boyfriends. Good boyfriends. Marriage. Babies. Friends after babies. Social media behavior.

Although it’s not on the top of the list, marriage does get a bad name for ruining many friendships. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’ by my friends. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, all you had to do was pretend you liked football and tequila shots, hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, and you passed muster.

Friendships after baby

Having a child changes the ecosystem of your life in several ways; friendship is perhaps one of the things that is often affected. Pre-baby friendships usually suffer during the transition, but the ones that hang in there are the ones to hold on to. When you are single and snazzy, kids are usually fun as long as they are someone else’s. At least I used to have an immense capacity (and resilience) to bond with children of my friends of assorted ages and sizes. I don’t know why. May be it had something to do with the fact that people then seldom talked about their children like they do now, so they were always what I made of them. And that always gave me a fresh slate to work on.

Now I am in a situation where I either have to be friends with mothers whose children are friends with Re, or just hope that he will like some of my friends’ children. The latter is much easier, as the children in question are much older, so have less turf issues. But for the most part, I am stuck with mothers who can’t stop beaming at the fact that their children know continents or can read at six and other such, but who never bat an eyelid when the said child is being unduly aggressive, rude, petty or unkind towards your child. Along with selective hearing, they seem to have developed selective vision. On one play date, I pointed out to a mother (who I also like) about the incessant bullying of her son towards Re. She stared at me vacantly. It was not the first time, and I am sure it won’t be the last. In this age of ‘likes’ and popularity contests, kindness is not a virtue that seems to have much equity.

I do hope Re goes on to have more friends and I hope they are kind and loving, but for now, it seems to be in short supply. I explained my dilemma to a single friend, hoping she would understand. She threw me completely by saying that there is something is wrong with bringing up sanitized children. And that eventually they will all even out. But even as a teacher to adolescents, I saw that they don’t. Behavior goes deeper than phonics. I wish we focused on that in kindergarten.

I hope I am wrong, but I think my ability to wing motherhood so late in my life also alienated some of my friends. It was like I caught a bus they were hoping to be on, or that I betrayed the sisterhood and I felt punished for doing that. The optimist in me, who doesn’t like to give up, most of all on friendships, kept trying. Many texts and emails later, I came to terms with it, but I still haven’t had closure. I wish there was a way to do friendship breakups formally.

As Re grew up, I was, of course, concerned that he find (and keep) a few good friends. Somehow the rolling stone that is a tenant’s life in Bombay made it difficult to keep an address (or a friend) for a long time. But the Gemini side of me acted breezy and said, so what? He can always make new ones. And he did. But when I ask him for a wish list every year on his birthday of the people he wants to have over, I find new people in it, and I miss the old ones. But then, I don’t know what is happening in his mind, do I? Somehow I felt responsible for not giving him a permanent address (read ‘permanent’ friends), but then, I consoled myself that he had a shot at making new friends so often, something that I never did.

I don’t ‘add’ friends easily in the manner of Facebook, but I do get drawn to newness, and somehow a new friend makes me indulge in a friendship courtship dance I often miss, and therefore find myself giving into. Some of my old friends understand this, and understand that it makes me, me. But some don’t and begrudge it. I know we need to clear clutter as we go on, and there are some things not worth holding on to, but I will always have a soft spot for the friends who dumped me unceremoniously. In the end, I guess the friends that are worth holding on to will stay either way.

Letting go and other April reflections

April is usually a time to take stock. No, I’m neither financially savvy nor does my life revolve around KRAs and other analyses, but April is the month before May – the month I was born, and I always feel a sense of closure around this time, so it helps me to write things down. More so because I realize that the older I get, the more chances I take, so it perhaps is a good idea to see how things are adding up.

I know it’s perhaps too early to make resolutions or too late, depending on how you look at it, but this is just a way of doing some math on my life.

On the face of it, this has been a year of letting go. Of freedom, of stability, of home-delivery menus and happy hours, of cable television and other notions of freedom.

But it has also been a year of acquisitions. Of letters, postcards, hand-written cards and notes and a lot of paper to touch and feel.

This was a year of teaching. Okay, let me correct that. This was a year of trying to be a teacher, and being hand-held by 75 children in getting there.

It has been a year of realizations, some happy, others sad, but all important. I am sharing them because this is usually the time of year when you ‘find’ your kids, the time when they are ‘yours’ again, and not the school’s, and you may have some trouble breaking the ice at least in the first few weeks. Here they are in no particular order:

  1.  There are no alternative schools. There are only alternative parents. You will only be an alternate parent when you recognize who you truly are.
  2.  As long as there is teaching, no one is learning. Children start learning only when you stop teaching. Let it go.
  3. Your home is as much a school as school is. Know that. Nourish your spaces. Become them.
  4. Your child is not you. He/she is a separate person. Nurture that separateness.
  5. Freedom is not about space. It’s the ability to see things as they are and with grace. Your children have that ability, while you are still holding on to a notion of freedom. Let it go.
  6. If you are constantly telling a child what he/she cannot do, may be you should never have been a parent. Or a teacher. Perhaps bouncer is more like it. Turn off your auto-correct mode for a day and see how it feels. Let it go.
  7.  If you can allow your child the freedom to ‘do nothing’ once in a while, it would be the greatest gift. Some day, you will be thanked for it. Let it go.
  8. If you expect your child to play, but expect him to also learn while doing so, you are destroying the purpose of play. One of the greatest manipulations of learning is play-way. Let it go.
  9. Just because you have been a curly haired girl all your life, it doesn’t mean the world can’t think of you in a different way. The past year, I have been able to do what I never dreamt I could ever have done. It’s time for me to raise the bar. So I lost my locks, since they were coming in the way of the person I want to be next. I let it go.
  10. If you want the truth, your child will give it to you. Question is, do you want it? Are you ready for it?
  11. The only thing that comes between your child and you is the adult in you. Let it go.
  12. Today you might complain that your child talks too much and you are so tired and overworked that you have no time to listen. Tomorrow you might wonder why your child is not sharing anything with you.
  13. And finally. When your five-going-on-six year-old wants to perform ‘Let it go’ from Frozen for you, the world can wait.
(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 6th April, 2015)