My daughter’s absolute favorite song is Bridge Over Troubled Water sung by Johnny Cash. I wonder if she remembers it from her embryonic days, but will never mention this to her, as I’m sure she will once again proclaim my weirdness and stop talking. She actually loves several versions of this song, and yesterday we sang them all in the car on the way to Mimi’s and Nana’s and back home again.
I realize that I am by no means a gifted singer. I am a shower singer, a driving in the car by myself singer, a person with music, good and bad, sifting around in my head all day singer. The right phrase spoken out loud by stranger can trigger a song in my head and sometimes out of my mouth. Such words Spoken by a friend can lead to both awkward or funny blurts of melody and lyrics, based on my timing. Timing is everything.
When I was pregnant with Julia, I not only sang to myself, but I sang to her. I felt like I could communicate to her through my car and shower singing rituals. But just in case I couldn’t reach her, I spent many relaxing hours with a pair of headphones on my belly so that she might get exposed to some people who could actually sing – George Jones, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to name a few. Mellow, sweet and sad songs that could calm her while opening and forming her little unborn mind. Songs about love and loss, which sounds depressing, but it was the tonal quality of the voices and the music that I was after, to soothe her, and myself.
Once Julia was born, the music really began. I sang to her in the car before she could consciously object. I danced her around the house to George Harrison All Things Must Pass and other Beatles songs every evening before bed. Reading stories included music and singing songs, always. From infancy to at least 2 years old or so, she stopped crying almost instantly whenever I sang Michelle to her.
The first song she ever sang was the Winnie the Pooh theme song. We’d drive to daycare and kindergarten singing Elmo and other Sesame Street character hits; I grew to enjoy Elmo’s screeching little high-pitched laughter (I no longer can tolerate him, thankfully). As she went through elementary school, we’d still sing in the car in the mornings, to everything from Julie Andrews to Hannah Montana to Weird Al Yankovich, based on whatever stage she happened to be going through. The songs she learned in school were also belted out on the way to the grocery store, bank, or whatever other errands we ran together. Singing with her, though not a conscious activity (as in NOW WE SHALL SING), was our way of connecting. I never thought that would change.
If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you will learn that eventually, around 5th or 6th grade, in Julia’s mind, our music became “your music” and “my music.” ( Read https://pattytmitchell.com/2012/11/16/my-daughters-music/ or https://pattytmitchell.com/2013/10/13/changing-times/) Me singing Julia’s music became … unappreciated. In fact, it was very much frowned upon. My heart shattered, my ultra sensitive feelings crumbled. How could she shut me out? How can I believe that she still loves me? So many parts of our relationship began to change. She became a DT – Disagreeable Tweener.
I’ve now learned to appreciate the moments when we are both together and somewhat aligned, and that’s certainly helped me accept her becoming the individual that she is. They are small and sometimes short-lived moments, but relished and sealed in my heart forever. And becoming more frequent these days, thankfully.
So yesterday was Mothers Day and included car rides to visit my mom and my mother-in-law. Julia normally changes the radio to one of “her” stations as soon as the ignition turns over, or plugs in her phone and her music before I even get a chance to object. But not today. Today Paul McCartney belted out Till There Was You without interruption or eye-rolling. No looking out the car window with disgust, just a patient tolerance. And then after came our medley of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Some gifts are priceless.
Take a listen to Julia’s favorite renditions, in order of preference