I’m completely aware of the irony: music that esteems pretty girls, getting drunk, and getting drunk to forget pretty girls is supposed to make me wiser, more empathetic, and a guide to growing souls?
Perhaps you think, instead, that I like the sentimental country songs, the ones that talk about true love, family values, the USA, and God himself.
Actually, the reason country music makes me a better mama includes the full breadth and variety that country music spans.
What country music brings me is light-hearted laughter!
For years I’ve been a music oddball, loving Pavarotti, Stravinsky, John Denver, and a wink of Julie Andrews- totally not cool. While my friends listened to Duran Duran or 10 Thousand Maniacs I chose Billy Joel and Beverly Sills.
But I never listened to country music.
As a 40-year-old mom, I’d get off work and turn on NPR or the classical station.
It was my husband who softened me up and showed me the cheesy way of wisdom. He kept coming home from work and saying he’d heard some country song that made him think of me. And then he’d sing a bit of it to me. Or he’d put the country station on, tell me he wanted me to hear some song by so-and-so, some artist I’d never heard of, and then take me in his arms to dance with me when it came on.
I love to dance. And we’ve taken enough dance lessons that we almost know what we’re doing. I have often said a prayer of thankfulness when we’re dancing; those are happy moments.
Our kids see this love. They see that Daddy makes their mama stop doing the dishes and relax.
We have two cars that we share interchangeably. About a year ago Tim, my husband, started leaving the country station on in both of the cars so that when I turned the engine on, country music was playing.
And pretty soon I started hearing those romantic lyrics and the funny songs, too, and seeing the charm in both.
Our kids love to make fun of the top 40 songs, ones like “Day Drinkin’” and “Getting Drunk on a Plane;” and we laugh too.
Fast forward to now. I’m 41.
I work long hours, often waking up at 5 and coming home at 10 o’clock at night.
Instead of getting in the car and turning on NPR to update myself on the news (which is a good thing to do, of course) or turning on classical music to “relax” I always turn on the country station.
Why? The lyrics immediately make me smile or laugh.
One guy is “Waitin’ on a Woman” and delighting in it; another is loving his woman “Like a Cowboy;” and some woman is lamenting the truth, “It all just seemed so good the way we had it, Back before everything became automatic.”
There is an obvious sexy tone to at least half of all country music, an appropriate heat between the singer and their subject.
All these topics are refreshingly straight-forward and raw. It’s true; there’s not a lot of subtle poetry going on. But there’s honest, old-fashioned love, lust, heartbreak, faithfulness, and a few big trucks all delivered in an earnest, unapologetic Southern accent.
This culture is so different than the one I grew up in that it makes me smile, it makes me laugh and here’s the key: it makes me more light-hearted. So when I get home from work and all my dear hearts are waiting for me before going to bed, I glide in laughing, gay, eager and thankful, not dragging or grumpy or overly tired.
Country music is not the cure for everyone. But let’s face it; mamas can get uptight.
We need that fresh rain of something magical to lighten us up again. Our kids need to see that joy in us, hopefully the spark in our marriages, and our genuine enjoyment of them.
What gives you that spring in your step; or what will bring the spring back?
This isn’t just about alone time, yoga, or getting in a workout. Those things can help us find sanity for sure. This is about joy, laughter and gaiety.
Let’s not allow “uptight” to be a descriptor of “mama.” Slow to anger, slow to raise our voices, quick to laughter, quick to hug and go barefoot.
Country music: a cause to smile.