by Christie Mellor
It’s two am. Life could be worse. Okay, so, looking in from the outside, it doesn’t look great. We took our kids out to a party, stopped at Subway on the way home as per the suggestion of the 12-year-old; got gigantic, sloppy sandwiches, came home, wolfed them down. The boys retired to the living room. Edison to his guitar, Atticus to his cello. They’re sitting in there now, playing music. It’s 2:13 in the a.m. But my god, life could be worse. My husband and I are, well, not to put too fine a point on it, out of work. We are hanging on by the skin of our hangnails. Managing, muddling through. We’re at the point of discussing things like:
Do we get a boarder?
Do we divide our house up and rent out half of it?
And if we do decide to divide up the house and rent half of it, who will get the part that’s sinking? Who gets the kitchen that’s cracking in half? Who gets the moldy bathroom and who gets the good one? My computer died last week. Moths have invaded the kitchen. I have a pile of bills on my desk that is starting to look like a still-life.
But right now, the boys are playing guitar and cello duets in the living room. Seriously! I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. I know, I know, it’s 2:25 am. In the morning! What kind of parents are we?
Once every few months my friend Peter has a big music night at his house. It started out well over a year ago, having little music nights with friends. His wife was dying, she died, music helped. Then the little music nights turned into big music nights. A huge number of amazingly talented people show us and sing, and play, and visit with each other. Eat great big paper plates full of black beans and rice, drink wine, listen to each other sing and play. My oldest son Edison has played before on Peter’s music nights; one of a number of heartbreakingly talented teenagers (and a few preteens) who jump up and sing and play with conviction and commitment and more confidence than I could ever have hoped to muster at that age. Kids sing duets in harmony. The grownups sometimes back them up with guitars, drums, piano, bass. Tonight Edison played and sang solo. He also put together something at the last minute with a few friends who play piano and guitar, and roped in his brother to play the cello.
The grownups take the stage in groups or solo. There are more than a few professionals who show up, but also friends who just love making music together. It’s so much fun, and usually goes on into the wee hours.
Now, perhaps you’ve read some of my little rants before, or maybe you’ve read my books. In which case you’ll know that I am not generally prone to dragging my kids along to every grownup thing I do. But they’re both on the other side of twelve at this point, and we find we do have a few things we like to do together. Music is one of those things. And Peter’s music nights are intergenerational in the best possible way. It’s not some kind of horrific, child-centric talent show, zealous performing youngsters don’t hog the spotlight, and it never ends up being all about the kids. It’s about musicians, and people who love music, coming together to share it with each other. The kids are there because they want to be there. And I love that my kids love being a part of that.
So, once every few months, we all end up acting like teenagers, coming home at late o’clock and scrounging around for after-midnight snacks. Once in a while I allow myself to be the other kind of mom. The one who lets the kids stay up way, way past their bedtimes, the kind who’ll scarf down a subway sandwich in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve given myself permission to not worry, once in awhile, about how much sleep and nutrition everyone is getting. Because sometimes nutrition comes in other forms. Hey, I’m getting some free Vivaldi tonight, and some Paolo Nutini. I’m going to tell them to go to bed?