Our MPower 2019 Highly Commended ‘Rising Star’ award winner – Corinna Nichol of The Mummy Circle shares with us her Mother of Reinvention journey xx
Tell us about your journey into motherhood:
I had never felt a particular urge to be a mum, even though I have always loved children and babies, having worked as a nursery nurse from the age of 16 then later a primary teacher. I think because of my teaching work being all-encompassing, having a baby never really crossed my mind until I met my now-husband who was the one who suggested it. We were lucky to welcome our first baby to the world a year after we got married, and our second two years later. I really struggled in the early days of motherhood, I found the complete lack of control something really difficult to get used to (and I still do sometimes!) I tried to follow my baby’s lead but found it frustrating when I couldn’t work out what was wrong with her. Over the years I’ve learnt to cut myself some slack, and I always encourage mums in my classes to do the same. It’s like any other relationship, it takes time to get to know your baby, and to build a lovely bond.
How did you feel about yourself and your job before you became a mum?
Before I became a mum, I was a primary teacher. I absolutely adored my job, and like many young and enthusiastic teachers, I lived and breathed my work. I was passionate about the children in my class and would have happily taken them all home (or so I thought in my young and naive state!) I also taught music throughout the school and was always trying to come up with new ideas to keep the children engaged. The highlight of my teaching career must have been introducing West African drumming to the whole school, and the memory of seeing my class of 30 little five-year-olds confidently performing a group composition on stage at the Town Hall still brings a tear to my eye!
What was the biggest lesson you learnt from becoming a mum?
Wow, there have been so many lessons! The main one is that I’ve learnt not to try and control everything. Life is so much easier when you are able to roll with the punches and just be able to accept whatever situation you’re in and try and make the best of it. The other important lesson I’ve learnt is never to judge another parent. I’m now very aware of the fact that we often have no idea what others are going through, and that most of us are really doing the best we can do, with the resources available at that current time. Parenting is HARD, and as a teacher, I never appreciated or imagined just how hard it would be!
Why did you want to teach baby massage and yoga?
As cliché as it sounds, I have always loved babies! I think there’s something magical about these tiny little people who are so new to the earth, and I love the way they view the world as if it’s all brand new to them because it actually is! I took my second child to a Baby Massage class which I really enjoyed and made some lovely friends there. I loved the fact it was a small group, and as new mums, it felt quite nurturing to have someone looking after us while we looked after our babies. When the course was over and it was time for us to move on, I was really sad as I would have happily carried ongoing for months. I loved the bonds formed within the group, and with our babies of course. The thought occurred to me that I could do something similar, focussing on building a community for new mums, and using my background in music as a focal point.
What do you love about teaching?
I never think of my current work as teaching, more as a facilitator of groups. I love helping anxious new mums ease themselves into coming to their first-ever group. Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve left the house with their newborn, and I find that a real honour and privilege. I love being able to look after the mums a little bit, often giving them their first hot drink of the day, and sometimes the first thing they’ve been able to eat. I love watching mums bonding with their babies through nurturing touch and music and watching babies’ enjoyment of all the sensory activities. Seeing little ones roll or crawl for the first time has also got to be up there with the lovely day-to-day experiences of running classes, and of course, my biggest joy is being able to bring mums together so they can support each other and provide a network of friends. My online group now has 300 members; these are all ladies who have attended classes, and every day there are posts asking for advice or tips, ladies offering baby clothes for free, sharing recommendations or just funny anecdotes. Everyone in the group is so generous and supportive of each other, offering solidarity when members are struggling or going through hard times, and I’m really proud that I have created a community of so many amazing women! The other reason I love teaching Baby Massage is that I’m working for myself. I have no pointless boxes to tick, or forms to fill in just because an inspector requires it. I feel like I’ve finally taken control of my working life, and I couldn’t be happier about that!
What has been the biggest surprise?
I would have to say the biggest surprise has been how well it’s all turned out! When I started almost two years ago, I assumed I would run a couple of classes a week and do some supply teaching to make ends meet. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be running 12 fully booked classes a week, creating an online course and basically immersing myself so thoroughly in the world of Baby Massage!
Do you have any regrets?
None whatsoever. One of my mottos has always been “It’s better to regret having done something that not having done something” so I am very glad I took the leap of faith!
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently creating an online course featuring songs and musical activities for babies, which I hope to launch by the end of the year. I would love to be able to find my own premises to run classes and workshops from, as well as to provide a hub for other baby-related businesses to work from, where parents are also able to drop in. There are a few possibilities in the pipeline but for now I am trusting the universe will provide!
What’s your favourite song to play in classes?
I go through phases but at the moment the album I always play is ‘In the Enchanted Garden’ by Kevin Kern. I came across it by chance as I used to visit a sunbed shop (naughty I know, not something I do any more!) when I lived in China 18 years ago. I really enjoyed the music that was playing one visit, so I had a peek inside the CD player to see what it was. I bought a copy from a street seller and somehow, I rediscovered it when going through a pile of old CDs recently! I like it because it’s all instrumental and calm and relaxing.
Big thanks Corinna – our rising star – for sharing your mother of reinvention journey! We are so proud of you, love from the Blossom and Berry Team xx