Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mama's Soundtrack

The soundtrack starts first thing in the morning.  I am awakened by shouting and banging, presumably the boys fighting, and immediately the bass guitar of David Bowie's Under Pressure begins its repetitive" bum bum bum ba ba bum bum, bum bum bum ba ba bum bum."  I jump out of bed and find the two boys in front of the bathroom arguing about who will shower first.  We have assigned a section of time for each kid so the problem (it would seem) is easily solved.  "Aidan, you overslept.  It is Gannan's time in the shower.  You will have to wait."
"Mom!"  screams Aidan frantically.  "I have to get to school early!  I have a review class!"
"Nope, nope." says Gannan sarcastically.  "It's my time right mom?  Right?"
Trying to decide what to do, my mind's soundtrack plays in the background.

                      " Pressure, pushing down on me
                       Pressing down on you, no man ask for
                       Under pressure, that burns a building down
                       Splits a family in two
                       Puts people on streets."

I grew up in a musical family where performing, piano lessons, voice lessons, dance lessons, 8 track tapes, oodles of albums and radios blaring intertwined with the din of life on 132 Hunter Street.  Music was always there.  It would keep me company on my paper route at 5:30 in the morning.  It would play in the background during showers, homework time, or hanging out with friends, and while belting out a show tune on stage, it would give me a high like no other.  Music was and still is a reliable and trusted friend.   Is it any wonder that it accompanies me on this motherhood journey?  It seems that  for every situation I experience throughout the day there is a song I can connect to it.  Many people who enjoy music are attracted to the melodies and combination of sounds.  For me, the lyrics have always been the most important.  If I can relate to the words the singer is singing, the song has me hooked forever.  Songs that make me feel less alone as a mom and sometimes a wife immediately get put on my iPod and become part of the "mom soundtrack" in my head.  Sound crazy?  Little singers in my head...No my name isn't Sybil!  Let me give you more examples.

The boys are outside.  Baby is napping.  I have seen an interesting story on CNN that I can't wait to discuss with Jeffrey.  We settle in on the couch and I say, "You should have seen this story that Anderson Cooper did on CNN last night."

"Uh huh."  Jeff grunts.
I am pretty sure I see his eyes glaze over, but I really want to tell him about it so I press forward. As I delve into the details of the story (that I will spare you here) Jeff's eyes wander to the television.  I move my position on the couch so that he at least can see me peripherally and therefore may refocus, but instead he turns his head a little more focusing harder on the TV.  It is at this moment that my mom soundtrack begins to play Listen (from the motion picture Dreamgirls) sung so brilliantly by Beyonce.

                            "Listen... to the song here in my heart
                             A melody I start but can complete.
                             Listen... to the sound from deep within
                             It's only beginning to find release."

Trying to ignore that his eyes aren't looking at me, trying to ignore that his body is pitched forward as if trying to hear the TV better, even trying to ignore the song playing in my head warning me that I don't have his attention, I continue to talk and pose a question--perhaps to measure whether my husband is listening or not--

"Can you believe he reacted that way?" 

"Uh huh."  he grunts again.  His eyes are on the TV.  I sit quietly hoping that he is just thinking of something to say, but after five silent minutes I give up, and as I walk away Beyonce's voice sings louder in my head.

                               "Listen... I am alone at a crossroads
                                I am not home in my own home
                                And I tried and tried to say what's on my mind.
                                You should have known."

I am not sure when I realized that I had this growing collection of songs in my mind chiming in during specific daily moments.  But I am kind of glad that they are there.  It is comforting to me that there are song writers out in the cosmos who seem to understand, in their own way, the feelings that I may be experiencing at  certain times.  And that isn't to say that the songs only play during frustrating times.  They also play during times of happiness and levity.

For instance, whenever I see Ila after a particularly long nap or date night with Jeff, Leona Lewis' version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  plays melodically throughout my head.  "I thought the sun rose in your eyes..."  At night the soundtrack leaves my head and gets played out as lullabies sung by me.  If you were a fly on the wall in Ila's bedroom you would hear a variety of songs from Carly Simon's Love Of My Life  and Barbara Streisand's version of Not While I'm Around to my very favorite, Carole King's Child Of Mine

                             "You don't need direction, you know which way to go
                              And I don't want to hold you back,
                              I just want to watch you grow
                              You're the one who taught me
                              you don't have to look behind
                              Oh yes, sweet darling
                              So glad you are a child of mine."

There are many songs that seemed to get played out  more often than others.  For instance, when I am feeling particularly desperate about the problems that plague the family that I love, when I feel inadequate in the mothering department, a favorite tune by Jon McLaughlin, Beautiful Disaster becomes a repetitive reel both in my head and on the i Home in my kitchen.  "Perfect only in her imperfection" is a line that seems to sum up how I feel most of the time when it comes to being a mother.  I am ashamed to say that sometimes, on very taxing days where I have been a taxi driver, a chef, a referee, a maid, and an overall punching bag for the shortcomings of my children's lives, Adam Lambert's purely amazing voice belts out the chorus from his recent hit, Whataya Want From Me. Concentrating on that line..."Hey!  Whataya want from me, whataya want from me heee..." has offered me moments of sanity when really all I wanted to do was LOSE-MY-MIND-ON-THE-NEAREST-CHILD.  So my soundtrack really CAN sooth the inner savage beast.

Finally I'd be remiss to leave out that my Mama Soundtrack can sometimes help to set a tone or mood.  For instance, on the rare evening that my husband and I go out (and I mean really out, drinks, dancing, good food, friends) I can do a pretty great Mimi impression in the shower holding my scrub brush as a microphone and singing Out Tonight from the Broadway show, Rent.

                                "Let's go owwwwooooot tonight.
                                I have to go owwwwwoooooot tonight.
                                You wanna prowl, be my night owl?
                                Well take my hand, we're gonna howl
                                Owwwooooot tonight."

Really gets a girl going, ya know?  And then of course at the end of the day, when all is quiet I sit at my vanity removing makeup and brushing my hair, and Jeffrey comes in after giving Ila a bath smelling of soap and Johnson's baby lotion.  He sits behind me on the bed and says in a particular way how much he loves me.  At moments like this, I may turn to gaze in his eyes while Beyonce's Naughty Girl rings its slow sultry beginning in my ears, "Ahhhhhh love to love ya baby.  Ahhhhh love to love ya baby...."  ehem...What happens next?  Well my dear readers, those details are for a far DIFFERENT kind of blog.

If you are interested in some of my songs, you can click on them and listen or even purchase them from
What about you?  What's on YOUR soundtrack that you think I should add to mine?  Leave your list by commenting below!