When I was much, much younger my family took several trips out to the East Coast in the summers. We drove and saw everything with the exception of Newfoundland. We had a big ten seater van with captain’s chairs in the middle that would swivel and lock into a rear facing position, which, as the two oldest, my brother and I usually got dibs on.
We had a collection of tapes that we listened to incessantly, tapes my dad had spent months putting together with recordings from BBC on the radio. The Smothers Brothers, Four on the Floor, Alan Sherman and the Goon Show. By the time we had left Quebec behind us, we were already singing along with “Gas Station Washroom” and “Ole King Louie”. But the tape I remember the most (and I’ve made no bones about hiding my deep and abiding love for him on this blog) was the live recording of Harry Chapin’s Legends of the Lost and Found. Probably my much younger self found in the story teller in him, the kinship with the as yet undiscovered story teller in me. All I knew back then was that his songs spoke to me in a way no other music had to that point, and very little has since.
Turns out, as I grew older, that particular album of Harry’s is one of the hardest ones to get a hold of, or so I found out when I started to look for a copy of my own, that old yellow tape of my dad’s having long since been played to ‘worn out’. My own family grew and the internet took on this life of its own and I began to search out his songs there. Only problem was, there weren’t many of Harry’s songs loaded there…yet. There was a guy who had a great voice on his own that I remember starting to request in his comments that he record all of my favourites, which to his credit, he did. And of course now there are a bevy of Harry’s songs on there so I don’t need to pester living room musicians. I still did not have a copy of my very own though.
But I digress.
When my kids were younger, I would play them all my favourite childhood music, whether I owned copies of records or I just played them Youtube videos until they were annoyed with me. I stayed home with the kids for 11 years. Insane to think that I’ve come to a point in my adult life where I can look back at that time, now long past and say I did that, but here I am. I’m getting slightly off topic again. Yes, I was a stay at home mother, and dudes, I was really good at it. Homemade meals all the time, baking, crafts, taking in other kids to babysit and bring in a little extra dough for things like weekend trips to the zoo. But then, as all good things do, that time came to an end shortly after my youngest entered full time school. I went back to work.
I loved working. I found myself a niche that I was really, really good at. I worked with community groups and finally with an employment centre. I found a new part of my untapped self that I never knew was there. I started writing the books and enjoyed some moderate success with them. I felt like I was finding my grown up self.
Of course life, just as you get comfortable with one way of living, loves to throw curve balls at you to keep you on your toes. My husband got this job offer and we up and moved to New Brunswick in the space of about six weeks from offer acceptance to that last few kilometers in the car. I find myself once again out of work and living the life of the stay at home mother. Full circle. Life here is pretty amazing so far. We went down to the harbor in Saint John over the weekend to a Busker festival that was going on and had an absolute blast with the kids watching the fire jugglers and dancers, the sword-players, the drummers and the amazing music acts. We were happy, and then even happier when we realized that there are festivals and events literally ALL THROUGH THE SUMMER at the harbor. Weekends, events in the evenings during the week, Saint John in the summer is one big party and our small town of Quispamsis is not far behind with plays, local bands and events here as well throughout the summer. But the *real* moment of amazing came to me this morning.
Okay, it wasn’t the greatest start off to the day, granted. We found out that a mouse had fallen into our pool and drowned overnight. Pretty gruesome thing to get up to. But, I decided to make breakfast biscuits with the kids and put on a record.
A few years ago, much to my absolute shock and delight, my husband found and ordered for me a live recording, on actual LP, Harry Chapin’s Legends of the Lost and Found. I put it on my record player this morning, turned it up, made biscuits in my kitchen with my two youngest and found myself smiling in a way that busker festivals (awesome as they are) and YouTube videos can’t bring forth from me. We followed up Chapin with the Irish Rover’s children’s album, Children of the Unicorn and I watched my 11 and 13 year olds get silly like they did five and six years ago to the same music.
I guess what I’m ranting about today is that things can change and they can change huge. But it’s those little things that connect you back to the happy, silly, childhood like moments of your life that really smack of home. For me, a lot of that is connected to music, making biscuits in the kitchen with my kids, and just being happy without needing things busy, crazy or frantic. Sure I miss working, and I’m already on the lookout for a new job, but in the meantime, I think my kitchen with my kids in the morning is where I’m meant to be.