Inspired and Overwhelmed at the same time

9 March 2017

The Edinburgh Festival is on! WELCOME, WORLD posters everywhere in the city – they make my heart swell every time I see them. We are lucky to live here.

The girls from the group and their babies are in Hup (a Starcatchers show conceived by Expecting Something’s very own Hazel) right now – 11 of them. Hup has had brilliant reviews – I’m so chuffed we have given a group of our participants the opportunity to experience it . . . I can hear the beautiful string music as I sit outside next to my sleeping baby.

He’d been crying since we arrived. He’d had a cold, I thought he was feeling better, but no. I tried to see if the show would distract him, but he was way too upset. Now, there’s upset where you choose to stay and think they might settle, and then there’s upset where no one is having any fun and it’s probably time to leave! It makes you so tense when your baby is crying. I shouldn’t have brought him. I feel so full of guilt towards him, and towards the group, and I’m not being very much help to anyone. Cue violins . . . ahh they are already playing!

I chat to a calm and glowing mum who is sitting with her toddler having a picnic on the carpet outside the show. The little one was hungry – she’d rather eat than see the show. I’m in awe of her chilled-outness, she’s come all the way from Larbert on the train – paid for tickets to see the show – yet she is in no rush at all, smiling and sharing a bit of her sandwich and joking away. She’s like the furthest from me right now. I’m so impressed at how flexible she is, not pushing or stressing, just being, and just being the best kind of slow. I’d give her one of the medals we made a few weeks ago. Don’t know if she needs it right now though.

This Festival is inspiring; there is so much amazing stuff going on . . . but it’s giving me FOMO (fear of missing out). I have two wee ones and a full on life right now and there’s just this feeling of so much I want to see yet seeing hardly anything . . . I want to see, and let my children see, ALL the good stuff!

I’m overwhelmed and eventually I take them to a wee thing on the one day the stars align, and get us there awake and on time with food in bellies – and it’s a wee bit rubbish.

And I feel like they would have been happier pottering at home, instead of rushing around.

I really need to learn that LESS IS MORE – like the lady with the picnic. She is rockin’ it right now.

Out of the door to the show comes one of our group, a bit upset, and then another – they feel anxious that the audience are looking at their kids (who are confidently exploring the world of Hup) . I suppose they are worried that it could be perceived as misbehaving . . . which it is not. These kids are a delight to behold -that’s why people are watching. The girls feel a bit judged by the audience who they probably see as quite a bit older than them. They are out of their comfort zone.

But it is so brilliant that these kids are the ones up there exploring boldly. They know keyboards, they know strings, they know musicians, they know dancers, they know theatre – they are comfortable. I feel proud that Expecting Something and their mums have helped make them the most confident outgoing kids in the room.

Parenthood can be so hard – like me and the picnic mum and the mum who thinks their kid is ‘not behaving’. We can’t control these little people, we can’t make them do things in an adult way.

I can’t wait to talk to everyone next week . . . after the show was over how did they feel? . . . How did the kids feel? . . . How was their day afterwards? Did the music and atmosphere overwhelm them with emotion? Strings do that sometimes! And it was so peaceful and beautiful in that space. How do they feel now?

We are totally encouraging the mums to voice their opinions, and let them know that their feedback matters.

I think maybe next year they will lead on the process of creating their own show facilitated by us. You can feel a bit invisible as a parent, and our group makes their voices count.

My Rudy wakes crying, red faced and I borrow someones shoes to take him for a walk as I left mine in the theatre . . . mime to folk ‘it must be sore ears . . .’

My mum comes in to town to pick him up (I need my mum!), my shoulders go down, she smiles at him, puts him in the car and he laughs and sings all the way home . . .

Ahhhhhh . . !

Brian Hartley is an artist and dancer and he was seeing the show at the same time as our group.

He commented to me that one of the babies had such good rhythm . . . the rest of the group joined the conversation and a new collaboration was formed.

Brian is coming in to work with some drum and bass and techno soon! Music is so important for this group – it really has power to transform moods and atmospheres. Babies detect the beat in music from before they are born – the kids in our group move to the beat clearly and often with real charisma.

It is interesting to me to think how music helps us to cope. When we are overwhelmed or anxious it quickly helps us to relax and accesses the right part of the brain. It helps motivate us in daily life – it can make a mundane walk feel like we are the lead part in a film, or running in the gym feel like we are the healthiest person in the room.

I watched a TED talk about how sailors needed sea shanties – to organise, to sustain, to lift heavy things , to hoist sales – the power of music kept them going .

Maybe it is similar with parenthood, when things are tough?

I’m going home to put music on.

I would like to give everyone in the group a reward today – a fringe first maybe.