Have you ever lived in a world in which "Happy Birthday" is constantly sung in seven-part harmony? I have. It sounds awesome on paper, but when you're just trying to enjoy a leisurely birthday dinner at a packed-to-the-breadsticks Olive Garden, it can be somewhat humiliating. When I tell you I am part of a musical family, I am really underselling things. In most " musical families " there is usually one kid that plays a mean guitar or a dad that was the star baritone of his high school choir. My family bypasses that brand of musicality and orbits right into Partridge Family territory. My mom is one of seven singing sisters who all descend from two of the most singing and dancingest parents to ever have boxed stepped on a stage. Hand to God, my family is also related to the Von Trapp family. Yeeeeeessss , the Sound of Music people. To be clear, we are related through marriage via a quasi distant cousin, but I am still counting it.
When I tell people stories from my childhood they sometimes wonder if I am making things up or if I was raised by gypsies. As a kid, my mom was the lead singer in a bar band. She wore tube tops to work and lycra pants to her "team" meetings. Since it was the "80's" and "childcare" had air quotes and asterisks all over it, on the many evenings where babysitters were in short supply, my siblings and I spent many a bumping night sleeping peacefully, and rhythmically I would assume, behind a drum kit. (Don't worry mom, it's waaaay too late for anyone to remove us from your care.) Evidently, in our family, the tube top doesn't fall far from the tube top wearing tree. Family legend has it, when I was three years old , I too was ready to be a rockstar. I took the stage at my Grandpa Gene's Knights of Columbus meeting, warmed up and ready to belt out every word to the Pat Benatar classic, Hit Me With Your Best Shot . Like any up and coming musician, I shamed my accompanist, otherwise known as my aunt, for not playing the piano loud enough. Sorry, Aunt Lissy. Like any good diva, the pressure of stardom and stage lights were too much for me. I wet my pants, and was carried off the stage and put to bed. Not my finest hour. So to say I was bitten by the musical bug would be an understatement. I too sing and harmonize everywhere. In the car, at grocery checkouts, at the OB/GYN. I really don't mean to do it, it's just something that is innately ingrained in me. Kind of like my chocolate craving. It's here to stay and there ain't no way of getting rid of it. When I was pregnant with my son, I purposely, and probably unconsciously, sang to him. Throughout my years of being in the school choir, and being surrounded by uberly musical people, I have learned how helpful music can be for expressing feelings, developing speech, grasping science, fluency in other languages, making millions of dollars so that you can buy your Mama a new house, so I thought, never too early to begin music appreciation! While he was my wombmate, my son rocked out to Prince, Talking Heads, and every 80's tv theme songs. Coincidently, Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf", was playing on the radio when he was born. He may have been born in 2019, but he's being raised as an 80's musical baby. Now that he's on the outside, I have gotten to see first hand how music moves him, literally and metaphorically. When he hears a song he likes, his eyes literally light up. You want to see pure joy, check out my son's face when I ask Alexa to play Hall & Oates. He sings his baby songs, he bangs on the keys of the piano his great-grandpa left us, he asks me to sing the same silly songs, over and over and over again. His pediatrician has noted how far along he is verbally for his age, and I really think music is a big part of that. For his first Christmas I bought him an assortment of jingle bells and other noisemakers. I thought it was a small gift that he would probably like, but based on how much he slobbered on them I could tell he loved them. Somewhere my 12-year-old self is hiding in the corner covering her face in embarrassment of what I have become. I swore I would never be the mom who sang and danced all the time, yet here I am with my tambourine in hand ready to rock. I am sure in the not so distant future my son will have an eye roll with my name written all over it, but for now he loves my taste in music AND loves to watch me sing and dance. So grab your air guitars or your air drumsticks Mama! It's time to rock!!