Music is as integral to me as my own DNA. My life has become a continual soundtrack, with music underscoring the most powerful and even the most banal moments of my life.
The soundtrack of our lives, the music in our DNA. . . I believe music woven through our lives rings true to the human experience.
The truth of this has meant we identified family “theme songs” which characterized different eras of our family’s life.
As a young couple with little kids scratching out a living in the middle of nowhere West Texas, we really felt we were “you and me against the world.” Simple life, lots of work, so much love. The best Valentine’s Day ever was indulging in ordering pizza with the kids. Then the radio played I’ll Stop the World and Melt with You and we danced in each other’s arms on the back porch.
When we were in Ukraine with a church-planting team, we had a houseful of preschool/kindergarten boys who militantly sang Lead On O King Eternal. My daily life seemed like I was “rallying the troops” for homeschooling, meals, outings, clean up. The hymn fit our life.
The boys got older, we moved to the US, and they had their first year in a traditional school. It wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t for us. The next year, Hubby was in grad school, homeschooling the kids, and talking to them about Foucault while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was working. We felt like we were bucking the system again, and weren’t going to be Another Brick in the Wall.
And truthfully, hasn’t that been the anthem of every homeschool family at some time?
Now as we are entering our last year in Nassau, and the crazy process of bidding on our next post is looming, our Foreign Service family theme song has been playing in my head a lot. We dance around the kitchen, dream about the next place we’ll live, and prepare our hearts for the good-byes here.
“Roam,” the B52s
Fly the great big sky see the great big sea
Kick through continents bustin’ boundaries
Take it hip to hip rock it through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without anything but the love we feel
I’d love to know what your family theme songs have been through the years! Or, talk to the kids — is there a song they thing “fits” the family best right now?
Life has shifted.
My oldest has been away at college for three years. The next three teens graduate high school in the next three years. One right after another.
I had four kids in five years when I was in my 20s.
It was exciting, it was fun, it was exhausting.
Well-meaning people would be sympathetic to the work and energy required, and would offer advice and encouragement. “remember, they are little for such a short time!” I embraced that. The days are long and the years are short, was my mantra when I was knee-deep in laundry and nursing and noise.
What those well-meaning people didn’t remember to say was that they are only teens for a short time, too. One day they would all be starting high school, then I would blink, and they would be gone.
We did treasure the early years. We have happy memories of making play dough and building pyramids and the Sphinx. We did treasure the middle years. We built our family traditions. Even now the kids know to expect socks and underwear in their Christmas stickies, along with some candy and an orange — a tradition started during our leanest years when I tried to make the gifts under the tree look more abundant with necessities.
Your memories are likely much like mine, full of funny family stories and laughter. You were intentional, investing your time and yourself into your children. Even when you remember the struggles, I bet overall you feel like it has been a joy.
Life is good now, too. Yet, I feel a shift in our family dynamics — and something isn’t quite how I want it.
I don’t have the energy I once had, and the intense emotional and intellectual needs of teens is hard. I’ve felt myself become more distracted — distracted both by the logistics of life and the technology right at hand.
I love my teens dearly, and we’ve been a close family. Yet, I get surprised by what I don’t know about them. I’m sad that we aren’t as attached as we once were. I know that they are growing and maturing and that is good — and at the same time, I feel like we can get to a place of being more connected.
This has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been in my conversations with Hubby and even with the teens. I don’t want us to just drift through these last years at home and drift apart. We need connection.
One of my most vivid memories from childhood is my mother pushing me on the swing and reciting Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem. We had a “little pink house on the corner” in Waveland, Mississippi. The house was on about an acre with tall pines. I remember watching my mother mow the lawn. I remember the smell of the pine needles and grass. I remember my mother telling me that it was good that the pine trees would bend and sway with the strong winds that scared me — the trees that bent in the wind wouldn’t break.
The playground was about a block from our house. I have memories of walking there alone, and sometimes stopping at the Tiger Mart across the street for a slushy. I remember hearing sounds carry through the warm, humid nights–the crackling speakers from the baseball diamond at that park in the distance and the cicadas nearby.
But the best times were when my mother came with me, and pushed me on the swing. Rhythmic pushing. Rhythmic recitation. Oh, how I love (push) to go up in a swing (push), up in the sky so blue (push). . .
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!