It’s been nearly two decades since a boy gave me my first mixtape. A CD, if we’re going to be technical. It was filled with indie love songs and the occasional Puff Daddy tune. After all, what the crap would a late 90′s mix be without Sean P. Diddy Combs? I remember listening to track after track, my fifteen year old love addled brain certain that each one was my soul set to music.
In the years following, there were more mixtapes. Some were nearly worn out from listening to them in hopes of bringing the giver closer in distance while we lived too far away from one another, or closer in heart when things were falling to pieces. Some were hurled out the car window, frisbee style BECAUSE FUCK THAT GUY. (I feel sort of bad about that. I’m giving my littering a pass though, in the spirit of proving a point.)
You’d think I’d have a good story about the mixtapes my husband made for me as he’s a musician who knows basically any song before the end of the first bar. But I don’t. Because, king of romance that he is, NEVER EVEN MADE ME ONE. EVER. AT ALL. NOT ONCE. In fact, we were recently discussing this age old practice of falling in love (and his shortcomings) as we were in bed, and he actually said with a little nostalgia in his voice, “Yeah. I don’t make mixtapes for girls any more.”
Though it may have been too dark to see my face, he knew enough to protect his nuts as I sat up fast to respond, “Well, I should certainly fucking HOPE NOT, JERK.”
Just then our two year old cried out from her room. “MAMA! MAMA! COME BACK!”
As I crawled out of bed to ease her back to sleep, I tried to imagine what a mixtape might sound like these days, anyway.
It’s the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine) by REM
Not to freak any of you childless fun factories out, but there is NOTHING about your life right now that won’t be changed by making a person. NOTHING. Sure, some of the changes are temporary (eating meals sitting down with both hands seems to come back around after a few years, as does leaving the house with just a wallet instead of 50 pounds of crap you MIGHT need) but some will last a lifetime (that feeling like your heart has been removed from your chest and plopped into the hands of two people who can’t keep track of mittens. Two people whom you work tirelessly to instill in all the skills they’ll need to one day LEAVE YOU.)
This past winter, I walked out on the frozen lake several times to take photographs. Before I had children, I hoped I wouldn’t fall in because it would be cold. After children, I thought each time, “good god, I hope this ice doesn’t break. I’ll die and be on the news and everyone will remember me as that dumbass woman who died for a stupid picture and didn’t love her children enough not to be a full blown idiot.” (Never mind the fact the ice was 3 feet thick.) Once you’re responsible for another human life, you guard your own a little more carefully. Unless of course risking yours means saving theirs. In which case, you can suddenly rationalize jumping into shark infested waters, running into a burning building, or diving to the bottom of some stank ass ball pit to retrieve a beloved Spider-Man action figure. Your entire brain is rewired.
(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All by 5th Dimension
As I’ve said before, some mornings feel less like “waking up” and more like “admitting defeat”. For all the moments I marvel at the connection between myself and my children, I’m pretty sure I could do without their uncanny abilities to wake up the very INSTANT that I fall asleep. Also, I’m not saying I know EXACTLY what it feels like to walk through an automatic car wash, but I did recently sleep between my two children when my husband was out of town. At least only one of them wet the bed.
Brain Stew by Green Day
When my son was only a few months old, I went to the grocery store. Shortly after I entered, someone fired up the loudspeaker and informed the shoppers there was a car, matching my license plates, with its lights on. I abandoned my cart by the entrance and went outside to find that I hadn’t actually left the lights on. They just thought it may be rude to announce “ZOMBIE LADY WITH THE BABY-YOU LEFT YOUR MINIVAN DOOR WIDE OPEN.”
Freakin’ Out by Death
You cut my toast! I didn’t want my toast cut!
The bus is here and I can only find one shoe!
She hit me because I said the word ‘googleplex’!
I WANT TO WATCH A SHOW!
Some days are rife with more turmoil than one of those “YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER!” episodes of Maury Povich. Small people who shall remain nameless throw themselves into fits seemingly for sport.
(Side note: Thirty some years before he would be the grandfather of my children, my father in law wrote this newly discovered punk relic about dropping acid. What are the chances my kids grow up to be accountants?)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones
Fast forward 20 or 30 years to my children being parents and there’s going to come a moment when they’re standing in line at the grocery store. A curly headed creature splayed on the ground at their feet will be pleading the case for candy and my voice will suddenly and unexpectedly escape their lips singing, “You can’t always get what you want…” As their entire life comes full circle, they’ll realize “Son of a bitch. Mom, Dad, AND Mick Jagger were right all along.”
Who’s Crying Now by Journey
Seriously. Everyone was fine before I went downstairs to do laundry/take a shower/started to make dinner/fell asleep. Also, why is this state contagious? Everybody just CHILL OUT.
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Some days it seems my 8 year old son could be mentally ready for bed by 6:30. Keeping his shit together for a full day at school all while growing like there’s some sort of county fair ribbon in it for him must be exhausting. I understand that, really I do. But I can only gracefully handle him unloading on me for so long. Sometimes I lose it. And we yell. And inevitably I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and if maybe I just offered a hug from the beginning we wouldn’t have ended up here, BUT HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO HUG A CACTUS IN A TORNADO AND WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO? I then spend the next day replaying where it went wrong while he’s at school completely OVER it. So I say, Saturday night’s alright for fighting. Go ahead. Have at it. You can sleep in and so can I. And when we wake up, we’ll chat over some cereal and spend the morning enjoying one another’s company and I’ll assume, for at least a few hours, that I haven’t failed you completely.
Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns and Roses