Saturday, September 19, 2009

Me and Mary Travers

Mary Travers died this week. And while I wasn’t terribly broken up over the news, it brought me back to my childhood music, played so often in both my parents’ houses: Peter, Paul, and Mary; John Denver; Simon and Garfunkel.

So a couple of nights ago—the day Mary died—I put on Peter, Paul, and Mary’s greatest hits while I cooked dinner. As I chopped the green beans I sang along a little bit to “Blowing in the Wind,” stopping when I realized I was getting choked up over the lyrics—pretty damn brilliant lyrics (that Dylan was quite a poet), so this seemed justified—and laughing at myself for being such a sap.

The next song started. I don’t know the title—the first line starts “I’ll walk in the rain by your side.” (Just looked it up. The title is “For Baby (For Bobbie).”) I hadn’t even realized it covered by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I know it a lot better as a John Denver song; it had always been one of my favorite John Denver songs. But as I tried to sing along I started to cry in earnest, tears pouring down my face onto the cutting board.

I cried like this for a couple of minutes, sort of standing outside of myself wondering where the hell this was coming from. And then it hit me: these are the songs my mom sang to me when I was a little girl (back when we were so so so close). And this song in particular, from the time I was just a kid myself, was one I always imagined singing to my own child someday. (The song is written as an adult-to-child song.)

I realized that all of these songs—the songs I was raised on—are the songs I’ll sing to my children. Children that I’m actually going to have. Children growing inside me right now, who could be listening to my voice right now. Do you know how long it’s been singe I’ve let myself picture my future children the way I used to, back when I was so innocent and naïve, when they were an inevitability rather than a fantasy?

And there’s a certain irony to the fact that this will be my kids’ bedtime soundtrack, given my complicated relationship with my mother (a charitable discription) and complete lack of relationship with my father. It’s not that I’ll sing these songs to them because they’re the best songs ever written, and it’s certainly not because this is the music I like the most. But they’re the songs I know—the songs I can sing when there’s no radio backing me up. And they’re pretty, child-friendly, bedtime songs. My family’s version of a lullabye. So I guess this one tiny piece of my heritage will be passed on.

Then “Puff the Magic Dragon” started playing. I kept crying. By then, I was keeping an eye around for J, who was in the next room talking to his BFF on the phone. Because I knew that if that man caught me weeping over “Puff” I’d would absolutely never hear the end of it. Pregnancy hormones be damned, there are limits to what you can get away with in this family. Hell, I was already making fun of myself.

I managed to dry up a few minutes before J got off the phone—he never was the wiser.

In some ways, pregnancy totally rocks.


Bean said...

HAD to comment on this one. Puff ALWAYS makes me cry. When my daughter was a toddler I bought a compilation CD with the PP&M version of Puff. We listened to that CD all the time on our daily commutes to work/daycare. I was always grateful that my daughter was in the back seat and couldn't see my tears. It took quite a few listens before I could get through the song without crying! ;)
There's a great CD you may like to have called Peter, Paul and Mommy. We listened to that one in the car a lot too. Congratulations!

one-hit_wonder said...

great post. i've been thinking that maybe i need to lay off the green day for something more soothingly baby-friendly. lol

Good Egg Hunting said...

I have a mental list of songs that I've always pictured playing (or singing) for my baby, and making that CD feels like the last thing I'll do before he I need to be absolutely sure that it's really happening before I'll do it. I am so happy you had this moment (you described it so beautifully) and I wish you many, many more moments like this throughout your pregnancy!

kate said...

Girl, I would have been sobbing along with you! I am seriously emotional right now, and I LOVE Peter, Paul and Mary. And I used to listen to them with my parents, too.
Her death was a big sad moment for me as well.

Ah, yes. The early 70s hippie-set:
John Denver, PPM and Simon and Garfunkel.
This was the music of my childhood...

Rebeccah said...

Yep, this was the music of my childhood too. I remember very clearly the day John Denver died. Last week, I downloaded some Pete Seeger kids' songs -- Squeaker seems to like them, and I've got the Mister singing along, which totally cracks me up as it's so *not* his kind of music!

Wishing 4 One said...

Even though i am not too familiar with this music, i loved this post! Hope you are well girl! xoxoxoxo