My first year of parenting in song

I just over two weeks’ time, my son turns one. One. This means I’ve almost kept him alive for an entire year, despite being able to count the number of times I’ve had more than three hours’ sleep in one chunk on the fingers of one hand. Or I would, if I had the brain power left to count.

And so, as inevitably as milestones lead to reflection leads to blog posts, I’ve found myself looking back over the past year – and through the fug of utter bafflement, certain songs have called out to me as being irretrievably linked to this first year as a parent. 

It’s quite an odd mix tape. 

I’m Still Standing – Elton John

It’s absolutely no overstatement to claim hat one of the things that has kept me vaguely sane for the past year is baby cinema. God, how I love baby cinema. It’s the closest I get to doing something normal – yes, I may still have a tiny human in tow, but I’m sat in a cinema watching a proper film like a proper person. And they bring me tea!

The very first film we saw at baby cinema was Sing, which is all about a koala who puts on a talent show. And in that talent show, a gorilla performs a rousing version of I’m Still Standing. (I’m fairly sure I didn’t hallucinate this, any way.) After emergency c-section and tongue tie and sleep deprivation and boob thrush, this gorilla sang straight into my shattered soul. I WAS still standing. Often at 3am, while rocking a baby. But it all counts, right?

The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp – George Harrison

Back in those newborn days I played the Beatles a lot. Because everyone needs to know the Beatles, and babies are no exception. 

But Billy only really had an interest in knowing some of the Beatles; he screamed whenever a Lennon song came on, and proved largely indifferent to McCartney. But he was all about Harrison, so I soon decided to cut the screaming risk and go straight for his solo stuff. The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp was particularly good at hypnotising Billy into silence. I’ve still no real idea why, but I wasn’t about to question it. 

Heavy Boobs – Rachel Bloom

I love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I love it so much that if I had any free time there would be a distinct danger that I’d spend that time writing Rebecca/Greg fan fiction, because my God I just love Greg so bloody much that it sometimes makes it hard to function. But I don’t have that time, so I don’t do that writing (but I could if I wanted to.)

Anyway. One thing I did have time for was singing Heavy Boobs to myself every time Billy changed his feeding habits and I ended up with some lovely engorgement. Which seemed to be ALL THE BLOODY TIME.

I can’t run real far.

 Lullaby – Tim Minchin

This one was always going to happen. In fact, it’s such a hideously accurate parenting song that it should probably top this list – after all, it’s the only one I sent to my NCT group. But it’s so accurate that it’s actually borderline painful, hence its slightly lower billing.

One day I hope it will no longer be that accurate. Because Billy will sleep eventually, right?

The Bare Necessities –
the Jungle Book soundtrack 

Inexplicably, Billy went through a phase where no matter what had upset him, and no matter how upset he was, all his problems could be solved instantly by a spirited rendition of The Bear Necessities. I cursed it at the time, for the endless rounds did my head in. But then one day it stopped working, and I was bereft. My greatest parenting tool had been taken from me, and I had no idea why.

(I know why. Babies are fickle. That’s why.)

Pure Comedy
– Father John Misty

Despite motherhood’s best attempts to reduce me to a frazzled husk who only knows nursery songs, I did manage to listen to some actual proper new music this year. Father John Misty’s album got a lot of plays – partly because it’s brilliant, and partly because the title track had a new resonance. We DO emerge half-formed and hope whoever greets us on the other side is kind enough to fill us in! That IS ridiculous!

When I Grow Up –
Matilda soundtrack

One of the great milestones of parenting is the first time you go properly out for the evening and leave your child with someone else, despite the fact that it’ll take over an hour to get home and you can’t be immediately there if they wake up and cry. 

For us this milestone happened in October, when we went to see Matilda. Which meant that I became acutely aware of the passing of time and the inevitable growth of my child at the precise moment that I was watching the cast sing about growing up. For the following fortnight I just about held myself back from a breakdown, but I did listen to this song a lot. A lot lot. A very big lot.

The Honker Ducky Dinger Jamboree
– Sesame Street

Parenting is ridiculous. Babies are ridiculous. This song is ridiculous. Billy loves it so much that it’s ridiculous. And it features the key to entertaining any near one year old – it may not be fancy, but it’s noisy and it’s free!

So noisy. It’s all so noisy. 


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