At some point in time, the music went silent. Growing up, the TV was always on. Until I moved out on my own, there was always a TV in the living room and in my bedroom. TV was what made our family life go round.
However, music was another huge part of growing up. I sang with my friends, took choir in middle school, sang along with the radio in my car, went to dance clubs with my friends, and even tried karaoke a few times. I learned that I just cannot sing! But I don’t care.
I grew up listening to my dad’s music. The good stuff from the 60s and 70s. Depending on the music playing, I knew the mood he was in. His moods dictated how we all acted and what we did. When I came home from school to find the TV off and Motown playing on the radio, then I knew dad was in a good mood. He had energy, was laughing, was ready to have conversation and tell me stories about his life. If I woke up in the middle of the night and heard country western music from the 50s or before, then I knew he was depressed. His “good ol’ fashioned drinkin’ music” was a sign that he was being haunted by whatever he kept inside. It always paired with his whiskey. And, yes, occasionally he was suicidal. But that is another story and I really don’t want to go there. No child should ever have to watch their father try to kill himself.
With a decade in age difference between myself and my siblings, I also grew up on their 80s music. Lots of energy and fun. If I stayed quiet and pretended I wasn’t in the room, they would let me sit around with them and their friends and listen to music.
For me, it was all about the 90s club music, rap and hip hop. Nothing better!!! So much energy, so many laughs and good memories. Sometimes my friends and I would be driving and we would pull over into a parking lot just to get out and dance to a song. Then hop back in the car and take off again. It was a blast. Once I started having children, music happened less and less. Now, there is never any music.
My oldest loves to sing. She sings all the time. Choir in school, part of the church choir, her own karaoke machine, tons of CDs. She sings in the shower so loud we can hear her in the living room. She sings while she rides her bike, and any other random time. And I am not encouraging her at all. No longer do I sing along with the radio in the car. Most of the time, my radio is turned down so low it cannot be heard. I only turn it up when I am alone in the car, which is almost never. Even then, most of the time, I am so desperate for quiet, the radio is turned completely off.
Music once was a crucial part of my daily life. The radio would be playing while I got ready for school, a radio would play music in the background of the kitchen I worked in during high school. Dad would get into one of his moods and play music for days at a time. On a few occasions he would even sing along. These were my favorite times. It was almost like he was a different person. He would get out of his wheel chair and try to walk around. He would laugh so much. Dad could actually stay awake instead of dozing off into a narcoleptic slump. These times reminded me of when I was really young-maybe 6 or 7- when dad was better. Times when he was not in a wheel chair, when he was not sleeping all of the time, when he was not really sick. Times when he could pick me up when I fell, instead of the other way around. I would always think it was sign that he would get better and everything would be ok again.
My children know nothing about music and that is my fault. I do not encourage music. Each time the radio is turned on, my head starts to pound. If I already have a headache, it turns into a migraine. I become short tempered and mean. Gone are the days of turning on some music, wearing a bandana on my head, and cleaning house while trying to sing along to Ace of Base or Bone, Thugs & Harmony. I do not remember ever turning on Burl Ives holiday collection tapes my dad gave me, while decorating the Christmas tree with my daughters. It has been so long since I have listened to any of the mixed tapes he made me, that I no longer know where they are. Most likely they are sitting in my storage unit collecting dust.
More often than not, music just makes me sad. It makes me remember days long gone that I will never get back. Because I am trying to spare myself from painful memories, I am robbing my daughters of making their own happy memories. How much damage am I doing to them for the sake of trying to protect myself? My oldest told me she wanted to be a singer. This is something I have heard since she was in preschool. The other day I snapped and told her she will never be a singer and she needs to just get over it. I know I hurt her feelings. The look on her face said more than words ever will.
Just like a famous song said, “silence is golden.” It is golden because silence protects me from memories I cannot bring myself to deal with. It amazes me to realize how angry and hateful I have become over the last few years. I have not always been this way, but life has thrown so much at me that my natural defense has been to combat all the negativity with anger. And now I am seeing what this is doing to my family. No wonder my husband is so closed off from me. No wonder my children only see daddy has the fun parent.
I miss the days of locking myself in my bedroom all day, with nothing but my music and my journal. This is a luxury I no longer have. It has been so long since music has been part of my life that I no longer own a stereo. Most of my CDs are missing, my records are warped and my tapes are MIA. How can I do this to my children? It is not intentional. I want them to learn about music and appreciate all that music has to offer. I also want to keep so much of myself bottled up and locked away that it is impossible to be the type of mom I think I should be.