I have found a happiness elixir. It comes in through my ears and goes right to my heart. It makes my voice sing and my feet dance. That’s because it’s music. Now I have a sure-fire way of dealing with whatever life throws at me: I throw music right back. I discovered this early on in my life and have carried it with me right into my mothering.
Music is my motivational coach. When I am grouchy because I’m not in the mood to clean the floor, or I’m trying to convince my despondent children to clean their rooms, I crank up the music. I’ll sing and dance and agree that Snow White was right about whistling while you work. It’s a major pick-me-up as I pick-the-house-up! I always choose something with a “motivational” feeling. Don’t laugh…my favorite is the sound track to Star Wars!
Music is medicine for lifting my mood. When I am upset, tired, sad or any of the emotions that manage to settle heavily on my heart, I turn to music. Sometimes it’s a sad song, because that’s how I feel. But, in listening to it, I feel my own sadness lift. Sometimes it’s a song that expresses the frustration I’m feeling about a situation and just knowing that someone else has felt that way seems to lighten what I’m feeling. I have a whole playlist of “power woman” songs for days when being a single mom feels like trying to carry a mountain.
Singing music myself not only opens my mouth, but opens my mind and my heart that much further. I am one of those people that sing in their car. Sometimes, I even do it with the windows down! I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t sing. Sometimes I sing as I ask my children to do something. Somehow belting out, “Please pick up your dirty clothes!” in the style of Aretha Franklin gets a laugh more than a glare. And, more often than not it gets done.
One day when my son and daughter were really having at it with each other and just bickering up a storm, I suddenly sang out, “All you need is love! Da, da, da, da, da, da! All you need is love!” (Is the Beatles song playing in your head now?) My children were so surprised that they stopped, stared at me, rolled their eyes and shook their heads. But they were smiling. For years after that first outburst, all I would have to do is just start to sing the song and they would immediately slap their hands to their ears and say, “No! We’ll stop fighting! Just don’t sing that song again!”
Dancing to music has the added effect of moving my body and pumping those sweet endorphins into my brain. When words just won’t do, I dance to express how I’m feeling. It’s a great way to get emotions out without hurting something! I’ve just been sure to stay away from the splits since about 1991.
Believe it or not, on days when I’m so lethargic that I don’t think I can get one more thing done, I take time to dance. I’ll turn on something slow for a few minutes and just let my arms and legs flow to the music. Then I’ll turn on something faster and really rock out. The muscle movement, blood flow, and those delightful endorphins give me the kick-start to keep going. A really fun one to try this with is Edvard Grieg’s, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Try it!
My kids have developed this love for free movement. We’ve started a fun tradition where each of us gets to pick a song (often just found on YouTube or my iTunes) and then we all make up “interpretive movements” to it. Lately they’ve been asking me to find old 80s songs, which they find absolutely hilarious for some reason. We’ve made up funny choreography together which inevitably ends up with us laughing so hard we fall over.
Whether it’s singing, dancing, or just listening to it, music is magical. It really is my elixir of happiness and helps me deal with whatever life decides to send my way!
QUESTION: How has music affected your dealings with yourself and your children? What songs have you found particularly helpful when challenges arise?
CHALLENGE: Next time life has you weighed down or a problem arises with your kids, find a way to incorporate music into helping you feel better or finding a solution to things.