Mama Madison: Sing, sing a song

The soundtrack of parenting

I couldn't have cared less about last weekend's Superbowl from an actual football perspective. And repurposed Wisconsin protest video and Ferris Bueller jokes aside, I wasn't particularly interested in any of the ads. But there was no way I was missing the halftime show. Sure, LMFAO has about as much appeal to me as pigskin or a Go Daddy commercial; I never have, and never will be, a "Party Rocker" who "Shuffles."

But can I still "Vogue"? Heck yeah. And I waited patiently through the whole first half for the chance to watch Madonna strut her 53-year-old glory across television's biggest stage. Madge is the unequivocal soundtrack of my young adulthood. "Holiday" and "Lucky Star" were the anthems of my senior year in high school---a turning point when I left Styx and everything Flashdance, including off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, officially behind. I made the transition to lace, quasi-lingerie, dangly earrings and big black hair ribbons quite adroitly; you could have easily called both my look (and musical taste) the summer after freshman year of college Desperately Seeking Sari. And just hearing the first note of "Like a Prayer" last Sunday brought back forever-pleasant memories of late-night clubbing in downtown Chicago with an ID that finally bore both my real name and birth date.

And I feel as though I've hit the musical-memory lane-motherlode this February. Bruce Springsteen is playing on the Grammy's this weekend. I feel a little guilty that I'm not really interested in hearing anything off his new album. My only hope is that he sings just one verse of "Thunder Road." I so wanted to grow up to be "Mary" of the "dress swaying" from the very first time I heard the song blaring from my older brother's record player. Roy Orbison may have been singing for the lonely. But The Boss? He was singing for 9-year-old me.

I am not sure there is a musical score to my life since I've become a parent, though. I vaguely remember "MMMBop" in the background with Son #1----VH1 was my best friend during 3 AM power-nursing sessions. And I'm pretty sure it was Avril Lavigne who dominated the airwaves driving back and forth to my newborn daughter's non-stop pediatrician appointments in the summer of 2002. But on the whole, whether I've been too busy, too distracted or too disinterested, I couldn't tell you much about popular music from the past fourteen years.

But it occurred to me that there's nothing keeping from me from a creating an original "parenthood" playlist. I could easily come up with an audio scrapbook that links favorite tunes from my glory days with important stages from my Mom-life. The first couple tracks could be labor and delivery oriented---think Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It", the Ramone's "I Wanna Be Sedated" or Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out." These would be followed up by tunes inspired from my kids' first years, possibly the Talking Heads' "Stay Up Late", Tom Petty's "Crawling Back to You" or NKOTB "Step by Step." Elementary school could be captured with, to state the obvious, The Jackson Five's "ABC." Or, if you'd seen me the day my youngest started kindergarten, Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud."

I could go on forever"and that's not necessarily a good thing. But if you have any suggestions to accompany the tumultuous tween and teen years, just let me know. Some days I feel like Green Day's "Good Riddance" sums it up perfectly.

And other days I'm all "Cat's in the Cradle." Because I'm not always ready for them to be "Growin' Up" (Springsteen, Greetings From Asbury Park, 1973).

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.

Mama Madison: Watching talent grow

Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.

Mama Madison: Writing time at Olbrich

If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.

Mama Madison: When UW-Madison's semester is over, the kids want out too

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.

Mama Madison: Another amazing talent show

My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.

Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!