does walmart sell bieber?

by Janelle Hanchett

So…remember this post? The one where I got all self-righteous about my kid’s impressive musical taste and how great a mother I am for introducing her to good music and blocking her from mainstream crap, etc., etc.? Well, as per usual, in the perfect symmetry of my life, wherein every time I think I have an area of parenting dialed, something happens almost immediately that sends me right back to the parenting time-out chair, I now stand corrected and am currently removing a size 11 foot from my mouth (which used to be a size 10, by the way, until I had Georgia – why the hell do feet grow during pregnancy? Does everything have to grow during pregnancy?). Sorry. I’m focusing.

Here’s what happened.

We’re about to leave for school on Wednesday: chaos, baby screaming in her car seat while Rocket “helps me” by buckling her in (bad plan, FYI) – I’ve got seventy five bags of critical items, I’m pissed off and irritable and questioning the purpose of life as I do every morning while trying to get to school and work, and Ava looks at me very seriously with a little fear in her eyes (smart kid) and says, “Mama, what would you think if I liked Justin Bieber? Is liking Justin Bieber bad music taste?”

And my whole world stops.

It stops because I hear the faintest quiver in my daughter’s voice and see her vast blue eyes seeking my approval so earnestly and hoping I’m proud of her and I see a little insecurity in her posture, some hesitance, caution, and I know it took guts for her to say that to me, that she was worried I would judge her or make fun and she just wants to please me so badly as usual and shit that breaks my heart. I ask “well, do you like Justin Bieber? And she says quietly “well, I kinda do.”

And once again in the face of my child I see myself clearly for just a moment, see the way my ego has backfired once again  – in trying to “teach” her good music taste, in being overly vocal about what’s good and what sucks, I scared her into doubting her own tastes. The message I sent was “like what I like” not “like what you like and screw what other people think” (which is what I meant to be saying).

Hello, my name is Janelle. And I am a fucktard.

Here I am judging the hell out of people who limit their kids’ exposure to music by only playing mainstream crap because it’s “appropriate” (okay I stand by my previous assertion that that is lame), while I am doing the same thing just in another direction: only exposing my kids to certain types of music because I think it’s “good.” I have inadvertently shoved my ideas on her so forcefully that she feels afraid to pursue her own tastes because maybe mama won’t think it’s “cool.” Whah, I hate mothering.

What I should be doing is introducing her to all types of music, without judgment, keeping my own ego intact, allowing her to explore freely and find her own way rather than mirror mine.

But it’s just so hard.

What I want for my children is freedom. I want them to be free to be themselves. But I just can’t seem to help forcing myself on them, even though my intentions are good, even though I think I’m “helping” them or “showing them the way.” I need some humility. I need to back the hell off. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but I believe the most enduring and powerful gift I can give my children is the confidence and ability to be exactly who they are no matter what, especially in the face of those who may judge them. Basically, in the face of assholes like me.

So tonight, when Ava gets home from school, she’ll have a new Justin Bieber CD on her pillow, with a note from her mom that says “I can’t wait to listen to this with you!”

And I’ll swallow another gallon of my overflowing well of pride, and try to do better next time.

14 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 25, 2011
  • Kimberly

    Awesome. Rock out, Mama.

    BTW, I, too, have hobbit feet. Pre-kids, I was a 9, now I’m a 10.

  • julie

    I think you responded perfectly. You gave her the right messages.

    1. Mama has opinions, that’s good, you don’t want to keep who you are and what you like a secret;
    2. While Mama has opinions, and even really strong ones, that doesn’t mean you Ava can’t have opinions;
    3. Mama has an open mind and is willing to contemplate the possibility that Bieber is actually ok music;

    and most importantly, when you listen with her, be honest, if you don’t like it, say so, and also make it clear opinion is just that, not fact and that if she still likes it, it doesn’t change your opinion or perception of her…

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder and … some people like red shoes and some people like blue shoes and some people only like black….some people hate rap (her Nana) some people love blues (her Papa) and some people aren’t interested in music….

    It’s important that she know what you think about things because she looks to you for guidance, but it’s important she knows it’s ok to disagree…. that way… she will discuss with you, rather than rebel.

    • renegademama

      Julie, you have an incredible way of simplifying things and making them clearer for me. And really good advice re: the having my own opinion. Really glad you said that, because I may have been inclined to tell her I like it out of guilt. Thanks again.

  • Christina

    Wow I didnt see that one coming. Is it wrong to say I LOVE YOU even though I have never met you.

    I love you for being a fucktard and having the balls to realize it. BTW your kids will too because how can you not love someone that is vulnerable to you.

    I totally hate being a mother too, mostly for fear of how bad I am going to fuck up these great kids. Well have fun listening to some Beiber.

    • renegademama

      I love you simply due to your comments. That’s even weirder, and most likely, more wrong. Thanks for the compliments re: fucktard and such. I used to play the game, try to look good, etc., then I got so damn tired I said screw it I’m telling the truth and hoping to god CPS doesn’t take my kids. Ha.ha.ha.

  • anastasia mcdonnellism

    Oh my geez, you just made me cry. What a good, wise woman & mama you are. I am so glad you found me & that your follow led me to your blog. You are awesome & freakin’ high five for buying your kid awful music and telling her you can’t wait to listen to it with her. I’ll carry this with me for a while. 🙂 xoxo

    • renegademama

      Thank you…checked out your blog and THAT SHIT ROCKS. I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful [cyber] friendship.

  • Jess

    My dad is a blues guitarist. 36 years and counting. I grew up on Muddy Waters and BB King and Ella Fitzgerald and Eric Clapton. I am picky about music.

    My mom was a hippie. Patchouli oil and no bras and goats’ milk and NO sugar.

    Everything was all kinds of authentic for us.

    And then I had kids. And my 7 year old? Loves iCarly. Big Time Rush. Justin Bieber. It rubs me wrong, but (as long as the girls aren’t slutty and helpless) she’s allowed to watch, and listen. Because childhood is about us teaching them how to live life on life’s terms. And if her life wants a little Biebs?

    Well. I guess I have to suck it up. And smile. And learn the damned words to sing with her because she knows she has a terrible voice and will only sing when I sing along with her. And I love it.

    We do it because they’re ours. I think that’s reason enough.

    • renegademama

      Absolutely awesome. Thank you for this. Feels good that somebody with real musical taste (like you) has kids like mine as well. Really enjoy your blog, FYI.

  • Shan

    Okay, so I know my periods coming. Whatevs. Tears in my eyes, girl. The thing that shows you are on the right path is that you don’t stick to *a* path. Don’t you wish your parents had been like that. Okay, I know nothing about your parents. Don’t you wish my parents had been like that?

  • Kzzinsky

    You are a beautiful person. I love you. You do so much better than I ever could. Thank you Janelle for being the mother I could never be.

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