I used to be such a great mom. I stand in awe of my former self.
My young kids were always in bed by 7:30 p.m. because I knew how important it is for developing brains to get a sufficient amount of sleep. They only watched G-rated movies, also on account of developing brains. And they definitely, definitely listened exclusively to brain- boosting music. Mostly classical and kids, but occasionally ’80s when nostalgia set in.
Wow was I good.
Things have changed since then — quite radically, I’m afraid. My former self would be dismayed with the shenanigans that go on at my house these days.
I find myself reading bedtime stories at 9:30 p.m. on school nights to my young kids. When my husband is unavailable, I sometimes have to be at an event with an older kid until then. Such bedtimes would have been unthinkable to my former self.
I actually thought it was pretty sweet that I got to listen to “Napoleon Dynamite” twice on that trip.
I knew my younger children’s tastes in music were being shaped by their teenage siblings, but what I didn’t realize is how far the pendulum had swung. One day, I was in the car with only one kid in tow when I heard a loud voice, totally on key and in tempo, belting out:
“Hey soul sister
Ain’t that mister mister
On the radio, stereo
The way you move ain’t fair you know
Hey soul sister
I don’t wanna miss
A single thing you do
I looked around to make sure that I didn’t have any surprise stowaways. Nope. Just the one. My youngest, age 4.
A few days later, I heard the same voice singing these stirring words:
“I wanna be a billionaire
So freakin’ bad
Buy all of the things I never had …”
Perhaps things had gone too far.
“Hey,” I said the next day when all five kids were in the car, “let’s help your younger brother learn a kid song!”
“Come on, don’t you remember all those songs we used to sing all the time?”
The next several seconds were silent as we (including me, to be completely honest) tried to think of such a song. We finally hit upon “Wheels on the Bus,” managing to remember more than one verse. My son eventually caught on and sang the last few chords, “… all through the town!”
My 4-year-old officially knew one kid song. Not much to brag about, but it's something.
Four days later, he ran through the house, singing at the top of his lungs:
“Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down
Even if the sky is falling down
I’m as concerned as I ever was about my kids’ developing brains. Every year, though, I understand just a little more that the parameters, requirements and demands of being a good mom are constantly shifting and changing — right along with my kids. This would have been virtually impossible for me to truly understand back in the days when all my kids were snugly tucked into bed by 7:30 p.m.
I guess “Wheels on the Bus” didn't take.
And I’m so OK with that.