Mom’s Car Stereo
Do you remember the car stereo days of youth – windows down, hair wildly blowing and the radio blaring the latest and greatest musical hit? Depending on which friend was with me at the time, my in-dash could be playing dance, hip hop or even heavy metal. But no matter which music was selected, the purpose of volume was to drown out your own exuberant impressions of the coolest music sensations. With all the pleasure that my melodic actions used to bring me, I have to wonder what has happened to my car stereo.
In my transition to motherhood my stereo has also taken on a new life. I find myself usually working with two options, the first of which is talk radio. Now, I need to tell you that I have never intentionally strived to be an intellect. I did what I needed to get by, but generally to me, ignorance was bliss and anything that required a logical conversation seemed boring and stifling to my spirit. Then I had kids and took on the career of a full-time, at-home mom. When you go from constant adult interaction to negotiating and teaching your children, it is no longer impressive and a sign of intelligence to use ‘big words’ or rational reasoning. In fact, a simple four to five word sentence is typical protocol for conversing with a baby, and toddler-hood only merits a few more jabs in your vocabulary’s database. And in conversing with either, you must speak slowly, purposefully and with wide-eyed emphasis. This is why I absorb talk radio – reaching back toward adult discussion. Sure, I get together with other moms here and again, but even that is not necessarily the appropriate place to hear views on politics, social issues or even current headline news. After all, a difference of opinion could make the rest of the playdate a little awkward, even well after changing the subject. Talk radio, on the other hand, offers complex viewpoints and even the opportunity to phone in and recapture some of that assertive argument skill that put you at the head of your debate class. Radio option number one is the chance to use perception and feel adult in dialogue again.
Now option number two was not initially so much my idea. Cutesy, bouncy rhythms and rhymes, clever lyrics about cake and bubbles, pirates and fish are actually the forte of my children. When I was first introduced to this music, I mentally tuned it out. It rated right up there with the whining and bickering between the two little brothers that ride in the back of my car. I made sure songs like “Hip Hip Hippopotamus” were turned completely off when my cell phone rang, out of the embarrassment that it could bestow upon me. I also postponed using the strategy of playing these children cassettes until my kids had reached their threshold of unpleasantness, and then I would allow myself sufferance through another chorus of “Happiness Cake”. But…and this is really odd…somewhere along the line I began to sing along! This option of music not only soothed my crying toddler and amused my kindergartner, but it also entertained their once rigid and narrow-minded mother. I began to listen for the slapstick background sound effects and even sang on key with fervent interest about a ‘barnacle on my toe’. It took me awhile, but now we all sing along to the same music, over and over…and over again. (Even more funny is hearing my husband at his computer belting out a line or two of “Ach-oooo!” followed by obscenities for the powers that be to get it out of his head.) And after about the 400th time of listening pleasure, I may even break down and buy yet another amusing children’s CD or cassette.
The truth is that I must face the fact that music is also an area of compromise when you have little ones. Baby proofing the house, eating well balanced meals, purchasing shirts and pants for little ones before my self and even choosing the right pets are the basics, but details such as a mom’s stereo also slowly progress to fill in the cracks of what used to be. And sure, someday I will be riding in my car by myself again and at that time maybe I can pump up the volume for old time’s sake. Maybe I’ll even choose the raucous sound of electric guitars, and if someone would like to object to the ‘middle-aged’ crazy lady for doing that, well I’ll just temporarily adopt that rebellious teenage attitude as well and shout “whatever!” as I drive off into the warm sunny day.