Chapter 1: Baby songs
“Live, love laugh and be happy….” I would put the baby on the bed, changing her diaper and bicycling her little legs — as I sang about those dementedly happy birds chirruping through the day. In turn, each girl gurgled and giggled at their silly mama beginning a brand new adventure of a day.
Music playing throughout the day was a family tradition, there wasn’t a room in Daddy’s house without a radio, a stereo, or a guitar. Now, as I didn’t have 35 musical appliances, I just became creative. As we sat on the porch, swinging lazily in the afternoon — Gatsby the mischievous feline playing at my feet — I just reversed the baby monitor. I had the receiver next to the stereo and the speaker entertained us with an eclectic mix of songs, rhythms and chants. As they grew, they developed definite opinions — in the baby years it was mostly mama’s choice. Bath time usually had “Edelweiss,” and that little white duck awfully busy with what he oughta… and silky curls nestled into my neck as I carried them to bed, we looked at the stars and I sang, “goodnight, my someone, goodnight my love…”
Chapter 2: Toddler tunes
Giving my loves every advantage — I wanted them to fall asleep to amazing music that would make their sweet baby dreams grow smarter by the night…. Hey, it was the theory. I love way too much music for it just to be Mozart, so I alternated classical and jazz. It wasn’t long before my older said she really would prefer the classical — the more melodic the better → Pachelbel, Liszt, Schubert, and Chopin. My baby fell in love early and deeply with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, with a smattering of Miles thrown into the mix. That thing, you know, that people say when you have 2 kids of the same gender — “oh, how nice you already have experience”. Eh, not so much. My girls grew up smart, and fierce and funny, and completely their own persons. Some things were shared — from a love of zydeco, to Disney, to the beloved monsters of Sesame Street and the often played Prince of Egypt soundtrack — having them ask me for a song as we drove from activity to errand to home was always and ever a joy. True confession, as they got older and took over the clicky in the car, I was sometimes nonplussed as they skimmed past songs I loved — to find “their” songs. Funny, the older they get, the more entertaining it becomes for me to see what songs they choose.
Chapter 3: Duets
I was never one of those moms to dress their kids in matching outfits — à la the Von Trapps. Yet, every now and then they found something that sparked their creativity. Yes, they did do “Sisters” once or twice, mostly because they did it better than Tommy & I. I think one of the first that they had spot on, down to the inflections was “Loathing” from Wicked. It was funny, and just perfect to watch. Next came the remarkable “Together Again” from Young Frankenstein: the Musical — so perfect that Igor (and his hump, what hump?) made a Halloween appearance that year. Probably the silliest, and weirdest came from the Feeling’s video for “I love it when you call”. They had every gesture, coordinated and mimicked that it was sometimes hard to drive the car because noticing them in the backseat made me giggle helplessly. And then there were the times the 3 of us (me mostly trying not to sing too loud and too offkey) would belt out Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Kasey Chambers, or Kelly Clarkson. I won’t even mention the times, they tried to show me how to “pop”, or otherwise be hip…
Chapter 4: Solos
Of course, as I said they are not the same — and over the years, watching what they like, dislike and kind of obsess over has been like a movie with the greatest soundtrack ever. There was one summer where “Jai Ho” was played so often, I found myself dreaming to its rhythm. Marina is a bittersweet listen for me, as she reaches in and stirs up all sorts of memories. Both of them could ID Bruce Hornsby and Mary Chapin Carpenter pretty much from the womb — but over the years some of my “artists” have fallen into the scrap heap of the girls’ soundtracks. For one — she’s happy to never ever listen to Sting or Tom Petty (gasp!) — pretty much the only song she’ll endure is the Moulin Rouge version of “Roxanne”, which is cool, but…. The other saves her disdain for John Mellencamp and James Taylor — not quite the bodyblow of the first, but yikes! That’s ok — I was frightened that my parents owned Pat Boone albums, the thought still makes me cringe a bit — and if no one ever plays Michael Bolton around me, I’d be perfectly content.
Chapter 5: and now….
I’m incredibly lucky — the notes that bond us into the melody we’ve become get shared wherever we are. If any of us hears music, or finds a soundtrack we’ll tell the others. Not always will it resonate with the others — but enough so we can feel each other’s tempo.
Watching them become women has been the greatest symphony I’ve ever experienced (in full technicolor and surround sound). Sending them both into a world fraught with discordance this fall terrifies me. I keep thinking there are songs, and stories, and adventures waiting for us to do. Time is worse than a relentless metronome, it just keeps ticking the moments past. All I can hope is that somewhere, among the sunrises and sunsets, the soundtracks and the syncopation — maybe I’ve taught them some notes, some chords that they can weave into their own melodies. Underneath the free, fierce, and glorious songs they create, I hope they will always feel my love, like a heartbeat, a rhythm to fall back on when their own songs are muted and to fly above when life crescendos.
Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers
Slipping through my fingers all the time