The Parenthood Playlist
How Music Changed as Soon as My Daughter Arrived
Music plays an interesting role in our lives.
It’s the soundtrack of emotion. The key ingredient to many a good time. An evolving art-form carrying a relevance weightier than most.
For most of my young life, music predominantly served two-functions:
- An escape.
- Marker of eras.
I can still recall the age I consciously dove into the Bob Dylan ocean. Although I can’t pinpoint the first time Nirvana blasted my ears, I can vividly tell you the two year period it was pretty much the only thing in my rotation. Memorizing countless lyrics to favorite musicals has laced just about every major phase of my existence to date. August and Everything After still remains the tipping point of discovering “real music” — though I couldn’t tell you the year it found me or how I got my first copy. And of course, nothing ignites the three-year-run of middle school mania like Backstreet Boys. All of it serving as simultaneous escape while pinpointing spots on the map of my journey.
Remnants of striking memories splice together like an Oliver Stone segment; edited sharply to usher in a euphoric wave of, “This is what it felt like when…” That’s all music had been for the most part, a chronicling of key times — a snapshot of complete chapters previously lived.
Nailing-down specific moments, unpacking every detail, and savoring the seminal memory with each re-listen has never been a thing for me. Until three years ago…
SETTING: My KIA Soul, White — 11:00 p.m. — July, 2015
(Partner and I head out for a late-night drive-thru run.
She’s uncharacteristically quiet, and finally decides to play our wedding song — Shove by AVA — on the car stereo.)
PARTNER: I need to tell you something…but please don’t freak out.
PARTNER: I think I might be pregnant.
ME: …Um……How sure are you? Did you take a pregnancy test?
PARTNER: I took eight!
The switch was flipped.
From that moment on, music transformed from a yearbook of sorts to my very own personal biographer…Only, I wasn’t writing the book.
It’s difficult to capture with words just how supernatural and unplanned much of this has been. But damn-near every single profound moment involving my daughter — becoming a father — and wading through these waters with my partner has been enhanced by music.
I researched and researched to pinpoint the prime moment in development our child could hear music in the womb. That way I could choose William Fitzsimmons’ Brandon as the first song she would ever hear.
In the hospital, the doctor finally says to start pushing. Marissa asks me to put on some music. City and Colour’s, Bring Me Your Love was the last played album on my phone, so I just hit play. And as The Girl hit the speakers, our daughter arrived.
Sleep on the Floor dropped the same week she was born. Later, the first time I did bedtime solo with our new little girl, that’s the song that played her to sleep. It remains the go-to before-bed-song when she says, “Daddy, hold me and sing the song.”
Naturally, nothing would be complete in the adventures of little girl childhood without a go-to Disney anthem. How Far I’ll Go is not only her current favorite tune to play over, and over, and over — it’s the first time a song moved her enough to try and sing-a-long on her own.
Numerous other songs have woven our ever-expanding tapestry of parenthood together. Some silly, some annoying, some surprising, some wonderful.
Many titles became seminal moments in their own right — establishing an iconic memory, triggering a new moment of discovery; moments that say:
Life will gloriously never be the same after this.
Textures, smells, timestamps, settings, interactions, all of it have become more meaningful and constantly re-lived, as though these moments are strong enough to carry a plot on their own. The songs sculpting these moments serve as stewards of hope and possibility as much as pathways to remaining present. Because, as I’m discovering, parenting is more than an era…it’s a collection moments slowly building to a whole.
Music, now, is more than a mere escape — it’s the capturing and curating of profoundly actual moments of life.
Parenthood has brought with it the most fascinating and emotional playlist.
And it’s still growing…