The following song was actually written before this post, but it was written whilst pushing Tilly around in the pram, and was also written both about and for her, so I figure it is kind of a parenting post in and of itself. It does, however, illustrate a parenting theme for Susie and I over the last four months of so, and thus deserves some commentary (see following).
Over the last four months (since she weaned herself) Tilly has been sick more often than not, and it has led to a low-level sense of anxiety when we go to bed at night about what kind of day awaits us. Will it be a day of whining fragility and clinginess, or will it be our sunny sociable child who greets us in the morning? You can often tell just from the tone of her cry when she first wakes up what it’s going to be (and if she has woken an hour or so earlier than normal, this is also a clue!).
When faced with what sometimes seem to be alternating good and bad days, it is a real challenge not to be fatalistic and so fail to enjoy the good days and moments because you are always waiting for things to turn to shit. Obviously the ideal (as always) is to try to live in the now and adopt a kind of Zen-like calm which allows you to ‘play each ball on its merits’ (I like to use this phrase as both a koan and a mantra).
If the mantra fails though, I find that singing can also help me to be more Zen, and that creating my own ridiculous songs about the more difficult aspects of the parenting experience can rob them of some of their power (I can see a parenting album in the works). In the article ‘Hate in the Counter-Transference’ that I mentioned in an earlier post (see Anger), the writer Donald Winicott mentions the lullaby ‘Rockabye Baby’ as an example of a song that gives safe expression to the aggressive feelings parents sometimes have towards their baby. I submit as evidence – ‘Down will come baby, cradle and all’.
But it isn’t just the dark desire for your child to crash to the ground from a great height that can expressed through song. There is scope to serenade your child with expressions of all sorts of negative feelings, as long as the melody is sweet enough to make them tap their little feet. It is the sense of helplessness produced by unpredictability and a lack of control that is, I guess, what is being channelled in ‘Good Day, Bad Day’.
Thanks goes to Bon Iver and Midlake for inspiring me to go with the close harmonies. Though to reproduce this sound, while pushing Tilly around in the pram, is going to require the the presence of three other pram-pushing, harmonising dads, which may present somewhat of a challenge.
Apologies that this post does not contain any tips re environmentally responsible parenting, but I promise that I haven’t forgotten. I just need to write the song first.