Monday, 21 October 2019

Motherhood mixtape | Five songs that broke my heart

I know, I know, not the most enticing of blog titles! But I heard a new song about motherhood recently that made me cry and I realised I've been crying at beautiful music fairly consistently in my twelve years of motherhood. So I thought I'd list out the main culprits. You'll have your own heartbreakers, of course, but I hope these ones resonate (and no, the theme music to 'In the Night Garden' is not one of my five, happily!).

My Name Can't Be Mama - The Highwomen

This is the song I heard a couple of weeks back that made me sit up and shout 'YES!' as I felt a kindred spirit. Parents of babies often say to us veteran parents of tweens 'it gets easier, right? Right??' and it's true, things are a lot less frantic when everyone can talk and put on their own shoes and wipe their own bums.

But the core of parenthood is always there and always will be, that knowledge that your small person is out there in the world without you and you can't take away the bad stuff. Are they being ignored in the playground? Is that hormones or the first signs of depression? Are you sure that kid is a good influence? Etc ad infinitum.

The Highwomen are a band of badass country musicians and I couldn't love them more. Not a fan of country? These lyrics might help:
'It's not that I don't want to, I just don't want to today
I'm not a fan of mornings and I love my chardonnay
No, I'm not saying never, I won't wish it all away
But my name can't be Mama today'

We've all been there.

Mrs Bartolozzi - Kate Bush

They may be tweens now but I did my fair share of those drudgey, endless early baby years. And I had my fair share of existential crises, washing the same dirty baby grows, putting away the same toys day after day, pounding the same pavements in the hope that my wide-awake babes would eventually become drowsy enough for a nap so that I could just stop for ten minutes (the quickest ten of the day).

Although Mrs Bartolozzi is ostensibly a song about a washing machine, I think it's much more than that. The lyrics of the last verse read kind of silly, which led a lot of people to think of it as a funny song when it was released. Kate Bush said she found that strange as she thought it was one of the heaviest songs she'd ever written.

To me, it feels riddled with love and longing and fantasy and desperation. All the things I felt so keenly at that stage of motherhood when my boys were still in highchairs and play groups.

Strawberry Swing - Frank Ocean

I find it incredibly painful listening to this song. Here's a life lesson for you - if you listen to a song repeatedly during the breakdown of your marriage, you're probably never going to be able to listen to it again without surfacing some devastating emotions.

Frank says it best:
Say hello, then say farewell to the places you know
We are all mortals, aren't we? Any moment this could go
Cry, cry, cry, even though that won't change a thing
But you should know, you should hear, that I have loved
I have loved the good times here, and I will miss our good times

I did and I do.

Shotgun - George Ezra

Summer 2018, you couldn't move without hearing Shotgun by George Ezra. Which is why it was chosen for our eldest boys and their classmates to sing during their leavers' assembly - an upbeat, pop hit, right? With that silly, yelpy bit for them all to overdo? Well, yes.

But sitting in the audience and hearing their voices wobble as they sang along, many kids openly weeping as the monumental nature of the day hit them? My god, those lyrics took on a different meaning. 

'Something changed in the atmosphere... Gotta hit the road... Sailing along and we don’t look back' 

It captures nostalgia and change and looking to the future so accurately. For me as a parent, the combination of song and occasion was a perfect storm of emotion, knowing as we adults do that you don't get that time back, that you'll only really understand what it means when it's gone. It felt like the first of many loosenings - all a perfectly natural step towards adulthood, of course, but no less devastating for that knowledge.

The worst part? Played on every radio station all summer long, wasn't it? And I cried every time. Even just the kids singing it to me now makes me weep (and they know and take full advantage of it, the little toads).

Anywhere - Rita Ora

Last year was the final year my youngest is likely to ever spend in mainstream education. It wasn't the easiest year (nor the hardest, sadly) and we knew change was coming. My little T LOVES listening to Kiss, won't tolerate a car ride with anything else on the radio, and Kiss played Anywhere by Rita Ora a lot.

Often, we'd be driving to school together, me and him, and it would come on the radio. We'd sing together and I felt as though I was singing to him: 'You're painting me a dream that I wanna belong... 

'I know we've got to get away
Someplace where no one knows our name
We'll find the start to something new
Just take me anywhere, take me anywhere
Anywhere away with you'

That's all I wanted for him. A new start. To run away. To belong.

Happily, that's where we've ended up - in a new specialist school where he's making friends and thriving. I cannot tell you how extraordinary that is and how grateful I am that he's been given this opportunity, particularly as it's one not every kid with additional needs is offered. But that's a post for another day.

What about you? What songs have broken your heart and why? Please do share in the comments or on the socials if it's not too painful. I'm off to listen to some Madonna now. Things are always okay with her.
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