Parenting Moments When You Know You Haven’t Totally Screwed This Up

The Divine Miss M at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, six years old

The Divine Miss M at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, six years old

Every now and then in the midst of the everyday and the good and bad parenting moments, you’ll have a moment of parental magic.  Usually the moment has little to do with you and everything to do with your child and it will be one of those rare times you recognize the magic as it’s happening.

I was reminded of one of those recently when I saw a concert announcement, of all things.  Holly Near is a singer and activist whose career spans many decades.  She’s going to be in Boulder in a few weeks.  I saw her perform and maybe even more importantly, speak several times when I attended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Coming from Oklahoma at that time, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d heard and spent time with inspirational female activists.  Needless to say, I admired her and her career greatly.  I’ve embedded her song, Mountain Song, below as it’s relevant to my parenting story.  The lyrics are as follows:

I have dreamed on this mountain
Since first I was my mother’s daughter
And you can’t just take my dreams away ­– not with me watching
You may drive a big machine
But I was born a great big woman
And you can’t just take my dreams away ­– not with me fighting

This old mountain raised my many daughters
Some died young – some are still living
But if you come here to take our mountain
Well we ain’t come here to give it

I have dreamed on this mountain
Since first I was my mother’s daughter
And you can’t just take my dreams away ­– not with me watching
No you can’t just take my dreams away ­– without me fighting
No you can’t just take my dreams away*

Three of the years I attended, I took the Divine Miss M with me and she loved it. (She’s still annoyed every year when we don’t attend.)  The year she was four, I was carrying her on my back, walking along the wood chip trails toward the main area and through various campsites when she spontaneously started belting out “Mountain Song.”  This determined four-year-old girl voice in a place surrounded by thousands of women.   I knew it was quite a moment before she had even finished the second line.  Before she was done, several women were following us and at the end, showered her with accolades. I will never, ever forget that.

Seeing Holly Near’s upcoming concert announcement, I played a couple of her songs yesterday and asked M if she remembered Mountain Song. She didn’t but she immediately loved it again.  She then said, “I especially like that line about you may drive a big machine but I was born a great big woman.  I think that means that no matter what someone else may come with, I can meet any challenge.”

I told Jodi about it later and said, “You know, we might not do everything right as parents but clearly, we don’t do everything wrong, either.”

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*Holly Near’s website explains that the lyrics were “inspired by an elder activist who protested the strip mining of her land.  They carried her off the mountain and put her in jail. But the great part about the story is that she did not go willingly and for that moment in time, she knew exactly where she stood. May we all know such moments.”

 

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