It's break time on Monday morning. One class of toddlers is out the door, and Brenda Haynes, 34, sits on a long bench, her 4-year-old daughter, Margo, draped across her lap. Margo stretches out, one toe en pointe, basking in her mother's undivided attention.
It was for Margo that Brenda left her job as a special education teacher four years ago. "I knew I wanted to be with her," Brenda says, "and I knew I wanted more than one child." She also knew her growing family eventually would need more income.
Brenda didn't want to return to full-time teaching: "In the public schools, you're required to do so much paperwork there's little time to spend with the students. It's exhausting."
The daughter and granddaughter of singers, Brenda looked for a way to combine her expertise in education and music with her need for a flexible schedule. After a lot of research, she chose the Kindermusik curriculum and became licensed while Margo was still an infant.
Her first demonstration class drew three students - all signed up. Brenda now teaches 11 classes a week with 70 students at her studio and another 150 around Mid-Missouri.
For Margo and 2-year-old Corwin, sharing their mother's attention can be a challenge. "My daughter knows she can control whether I succeed or fail if she acts out," Brenda says. Success is on Brenda's mind a lot these days. Her business isn't yet financially stable. She hopes to grow to 100 students in the next few years and recoup the investment she made in the early years.
As for her investment in her children, that has already paid off. "It's given us a lot of bonding moments. My daughter loves to sing," Brenda says, and it continues the family's musical legacy.
"I hope they love music and will choose to make it a part of their lives."