Mothering and Music

Some parents eschew their teenage music taste upon the arrival of their children. We have just learned to rock it.

A connection with pop-punk music that began as a Fall Out Boy obsessed teenager has blossomed into being the oldest lady at a Twenty One Pilots concert. As a piano player and high school band dropout with too many emotions, my genre of music has always been significant to me. When I attended a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at three months pregnant, I had a nausea-inducing thought during Flea’s encore bass solo: Can I still listen to this stuff as a mom?

Since my music taste is part of who I am, it is part of who my kid gets as a parent. Sorry, kid. While some moms entertained their kids with the Baby Einstein Pandora Station, my son grew up with a Relient K playlist on in the background. Now that he’s been in the world for two and half years, I reflect on some of the interesting realizations my music taste has had on my own parenting.

My Kid’s Favorite Song is Pretty Sinister 

I’m not sure how he picks his favorites, but my son picks out songs with the most depressing themes and latches on to them. At bedtime most nights, my two year old requests “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, a pleasant melody about death and questioning the afterlife. He’s also a big fan of a song that I think is about addiction- although I’m not positive, because it’s one of those songs that could easily be about a sandwich, too. I know it seems a little morbid, but is it any worse than “Ring Around the Rosie”, which we all know is about the bubonic plague? “Rosie” is just more mainstream, and we tend to be a little more hipster-leaning. 

I Legitimately Enjoy Sing Alongs

I love singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star repeatedly just as much as the next mom. Which means I hate singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star repeatedly. Singing a fast paced Blink-182 song, however, somehow gets better each time I sing it through, even if I have to hum the inappropriate parts. It’s also great exercise when my son and I jump around our apartment together while we rock out and sing enthusiastically to an audience of toy cars. 

My Kid Quotes Deep Lyrics

Quietly playing on the floor, I often witness my son yell, “NOW I JUST SIT IN SILENCE,” and then become suddenly still, staring at his toys. When I realized after a moment that he was just quoting one of his favorite songs, I have to admit I felt a little proud. Many songs convey a feeling in their sound alone; you don’t always have to know exactly what the lyrics are about to get the message. This makes Punk Pop perfect for toddlers, who are inexperienced communicators. Music can express the heartbreak felt in moments of early childhood (I tried so hard [to throw the carton of eggs out of the shopping cart] and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter [because mom saw me at the last second]) Of course, toddlers cannot fully understand the songs they sing, but it’s entertaining when they think they do.

 Music Teaches an Important Life Lesson

It’s easy to crumple under the weary strain of responsibility faced when parenting a child. In these dark times, I try to remember that parenting is not the sole characteristic that defines me. Sharing my music with my son is one way I remain sanely myself. For a few minutes of a song, I am not a mom stumbling through a realm of breastfeeding and potty-training and baby sign language. I am myself. I don’t have to pretend to love changing diapers and making meals from scratch and cleaning the kitchen four times a day. I listen to my music with my son not in hopes that he will like it- it is only an added bonus if he does- but because I want to show him that it is a wonderful thing to be your imperfect, dynamic self in life. Pop Punk artists teach us that lesson: break a rule, speak your mind, and never, ever let someone else put you into a box. Figurative or otherwise.

We have ventured into other music spheres with my son. He knows plenty of nursery rhymes and Disney songs, and has his favorites of across multiple music genres that he likes to hear over and over again. I am happy to support whatever kind of music he is interested in. Except…

Lord Help Me If He Grows Up to Love What’s On the Radio Now

I don’t know how to parent a Directioner. I just don’t.

Image: Flickr


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