For Mother’s Day, the TV show The Voice had contestants sing songs in honor of their mothers. My own mom asked me what song I would dedicate to her, and she has been asking me every day since the show aired. I kept telling her I didn’t know, not because I couldn’t think of one, but because I couldn’t narrow my list of songs down to just one that represented my mom. So I didn’t. Here’s my list of songs that remind me of my momma and embody her spirit. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.
1. “Sweet Pea” by Amos Lee
Keeper of my soul
I know sometimes I’m out of control
You’re the only reason I keep on coming home”
What it Means: My mom and I have a special bond dating back to that time I resided within her womb, and I feel that perhaps because of this primal bond–blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, etc.–she understands my soul in a way that most others don’t. My mother has most definitely seen me at my worst (cue the first time I got drunk and she peeled my vomit-covered clothes off me and put me to bed) but she loves me to my very core. Also, we live together and I have to call or text if I stay out too late because she will worry and I appreciate that about her.
2. “Love Never Fails” by Brandon Heath
The Lyrics: “Love is the arms that are holding you
Love never fails you”
What it Means: This song reminds me of my mom so much. My momma loves Jesus and this song is about Jesus, but I think it’s also about the love that my mom gives to me. This song also reminds me of the time we went to see Brandon Heath at a strange little Bible college and this family next to us was literally sobbing throughout the entire concert and saying, “We have to tell Brandon our story!” and my mom and I kept exchanging bewildered glances and giggling.
3. “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift
The Lyrics: “There is a video
I found from back when I was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen
And you’re talking to me
It’s the age of princesses and pirate ships
And the seven dwarfs
And you’re the prettiest lady in the whole wide world
Now I know why all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side
Even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
Staying back and watching me shine
And I didn’t know if you knew
So I’m taking this chance to say
That I had the best day
With you today”
What it Means: There is a particularly notorious video in my family of me approximately age three performing the play “Little Red Riding Hood” with My Little Pony figurines. Halfway through the riveting performance, completely out of nowhere, I started sobbing and had a breakdown because I didn’t have a grandmother costume for one of my ponies to wear. Most of my family still laughs about what a drama queen I was, but that’s the thing about the video and this song. My mom has always taken me completely seriously, listening to all of my stories and praising all of my paintings and treating me like a smaller version of her. She made me feel smart and creative and rational and normal (haha!). She’s been my BFF from way back, like 1995 when we had matching bangs.
4. “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks
Lyrics: “As her folks drive away, her dad yells, ‘Check the oil!'”
Mom stares out the window and says, ‘I’m leaving my girl’
She said, ‘It didn’t seem like that long ago’
When she stood there and let her own folks know
She needed wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes”
What it Means: When I graduated high school, my mom made a thirty-plus-minute-long video montage of my life set to various songs, and one of them was “Wide Open Spaces.” This song perfectly embodies my parents: my dad expressing his love by making sure my truck is working properly, my mom utterly devastated anytime I leave home. I can still picture my parents driving off after they got me moved into my dorm on the first day of college, my mom on the verge of tears and my dad yelling, “Stay away from the Natty Light!” out the truck window. I know it is hard for my momma when I am off galavanting (and I have probably galavanted more than the average child), and even though she worries the whole time I’m gone, she has always encouraged me to go and live my life. And I know she will be at my side in an instant whenever I need her, no matter which side of the world I’m on at the time.
5. “Surrender” by Cheap Trick
The Lyrics: “Mommy’s alright, daddy’s alright
They just seem a little weird
But don’t give yourself away”
What it Means: The first time I heard this song was New Year’s Eve 1999 and my sister has just gotten engaged and my family was drunk on wine and the Y2K spirit. I don’t know if I am remembering this or making it up, but I have a vision of my mom, dad, sister, and brother with their arms around each other, singing, “They just seem a little weeeeeiiiiiirrrddd, SURRENDER! SURRENDER! But don’t give yourself awayyyyyy ayyyyyy ayyyyyy ayyy ayyyyyy!” It was at that moment that I realized that song was boss and so is my family.
Just a few short years before that fateful New Year’s Eve Party, I was in third grade, and my mom not only allowed but encouraged me to wear my head-to-toe lime green outfit, Velcro sandals over my regular tennis shoes, and fake turtleshell glasses. Was I a strange child? Absolutely. Am I a weird adult? Sure. Are my parents crazy? Without a doubt. But they’re totally okay with it, and I was brought up to fully embrace my eccentricities. I had to find out I was weird from other people because my mom never questioned what I wanted to wear or say or do. She let me do me and just loved the shit out of me despite what weird things I came up with.
My mom has had a huge impact on the person I am today, and I hope she takes it as a compliment because I am happier with who I am now than I have ever been. She has quietly and patiently taught me the things I need to know or want to learn about this world, and she deserves the best Mother’s Day a lady could ask for.
I love you, momma.