Whew! The last three weeks have been INTENSE! Setting up in-person classes for the first time in 18 months has been challenging.
In March 2020, we pivoted to online teaching in just a week. (Pivot. Does anyone use that verb anymore? It was briefly popular, I wonder if it feels lonely now.) We worked on our tech skills, our online teaching materials, changed our activities, our jokes, our timing, our props. By this summer we were totally comfortable. We felt completely competent. When I had a meeting with our teachers in July to discuss in-person teaching, they were full of anxiety. These are teachers who had years and years of in-person experience behind them. But what would it feel like with masks? And with distancing? And then with vaccine passports? I advertized the in-person classes, but I warned those who registered that we might change back to online with very little notice. We were waiting to see what Dr Henry would say on September 7.
The new mask mandate and the vaccine passports came out and we figured out a way to work with them. We developed our own policy, arranged for more frequent sanitizing by our staff and more cleaning by Catherine, our wonderful cleaner. We washed all the yoga props and steam cleaned all the chairs. The yoga teachers – who had not taught indoors for ages – came to look at the space. The childbirth teachers gathered up all the props, found the dollies and the swaddling blankets.
Our first in-person childbirth class was on September 11. Melissa, the teacher, wore her red power shoes, so she would feel brave. The nine couples arrived and politely showed us their proof of vaccination and another piece of ID. They sat politely on the chairs we had positioned carefully and distantly across the room. They cleaned their hands with the hand sanitizer we distributed, and wore their masks the whole time. They did their breathing and positioning exercises on their own yoga mats, in front of their chairs, without moving about the room the way they used to. But very quickly everyone warmed up and relaxed and laughed and asked questions. It was just like old times.
I ran my first in-person indoor baby group that week. It was so wonderful to see babies in the classroom again. It was great to see the parents hanging out and chatting and getting to know each other. The crawling babies explored the room, and made it their own. Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga have started up again too. and so has Motherhood Circle. More people have been in the classroom in the last two weeks, than all through the previous eighteen months!
Mothering Touch is still a lot quieter than it was in February 2020. But it doesn’t feel so much like a ghost-town any more. We have pushed the tumbleweed out of the way, and parents, babies and teachers are reclaiming the space. Can we keep going through the fall and winter? Let’s stay hopeful!