One thing I love about doing Baby Story Time is providing a chance for new parents to meet each other. Although we often measure our story time "success" on the reaction of the children, I find it so rewarding to overhear parents making plans for play-dates afterwards, or just sharing stories and tips with one another about their experiences with parenting. As a mother of a small child, I know how comforting it is to hear that other parents are just as sleep-deprived as I am, or that their children have some of the same quirks as mine (or are even quirkier!) In fact, it is often that need for human interaction - with other adults, no less! - that brings parents to story time. Yes, they know it is important for their children (interaction with other children, learning to listen, learning to share, the music and movement, the rhymes, we could go on and on, right?), but let's face it: when you are home alone with a 12-month old five days a week, you need some time with other parents! And I am happy to provide that for the new parents in our community.
Miss Kristen's son, Adam, attending Baby Story Time
When I told my story time families that I would be gone for a few weeks because my son was getting a new kidney, I expected smiles and head nods. What I got was far more than I ever imagined: they burst into applause. And I, of course, burst into tears (as I am right now, tearing up as I type this). I didn't share this information because I wanted sympathy, but simply because I didn't want to just disappear on them, or for anyone to worry. What I got was not their sympathy; I got their love and support. And I also realized that by sharing this window into my personal life, I was also saying to them, "We understand each other. We are all parents who can relate to each other and learn from one another. We're all in this together."
Miss Kristen with her son Adam
I realize that as my son grows older and new faces appear in story time, I may no longer have such a strong connection with these parents, but for now the connection is there and I am so happy that it is. Story time is not just for the children. It is for the parents, too. It is about making connections and relating to one another. It is about supporting one another as parents because we know what it's like. And that matters, it really does. Story time matters. What WE do as librarians matters. The connections we make with these families matters. I'll never forget that day, that round of applause, the way it felt and what it meant to me. And that matters.