Dear Country Music

I love country music.

I grew up on it.  I loved listening to the radio in the evenings when Mama had it on while she was cooking supper.  When I was old enough I got a clock radio–oh y’all, it had real hands on it and you just had to kind of guess where to put the “alarm hand” to wake up at six or six-thirty.  It was precious.  (Yeah, we’ll go with that.)  I listened to the country music station–WDEN–when I sat and did my homework on my bed.  I loved the music, the words, and the DJ’s–there were some real characters on there for sure.  I remember the one weekend that JD North holed himself up in the control booth and played Hank Williams Jr’s “Family Tradition” over and over when he was trying to raise money for a charity.  It was a mess, but you couldn’t change the station because you never knew if this was the last time he would play it.  Ah, but no…..

Daddy especially enjoyed country music, but as the years went by, he complained about the demise of country music.  How the new artists weren’t singing real music–that they were turning to rock and roll and foul lyrics.  My Daddy preferred the songs of the older artists for the most part.  He used to put “Pancho and Lefty” on the record player and set it to play over and over and over.

He loved a good story.  Always.

Daddy also loved a good tune.  He really liked some of Lionel Richie’s songs, just because of the music.  He also liked Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon”–again the music.  Go figure.

But I digress.  I got to thinking about the state of country music the other day when a fairly new song came on the radio.  “Day Drinking” by Little Big Town.  I have been burning up my search engine because I really think I’ve heard this tune in a commercial or something, but maybe what happened is I’ve heard and liked the tune, but never listened to the words.

Dear Country Music,

Day Drinking?

Really?

I know y’all aren’t talking about a jug of sweet tea either.

I’ve tried to ignore the trend.  It’s been heading that way for a while.  Dierks Bentley’s “Tip It on Back”–I love the tune, I love the laid back feel, so I tried to pretend that you were suggesting I could tip on back my jug of water I tote around.  But then he came out with “Drunk on a Plane” and well, yeah, that one was a little hard to ignore.

This next one is hard for me.  I love me some Eric Church, but “A Cold One” is about regretting the ex-girlfriend taking one of his beers as she left.

Oh Eric, REALLY?

I’m starting to think you are all one or two short of a twelve-pack.

As I was writing this, I came across an article “Does Country Music Need an Alcohol Intervention?” which served to validate what I’d been noticing.

There’s a whole lot of drinking and partying going on in country music.

“The old guys were regretfully drunk,” says songwriter Adam Wright, whose current Lee Ann Womack single, “The Way I’m Livin’,” embodies the same attitude. “The new guys are proud to be drunk. There’s a little bit of a different spin.”

Exactly.

All of you out there writing the songs and then selling the songs and then recording the songs and then yes, choosing to play these songs–can you please do me one favor?

Can you pay attention to who is listening to your music?

Teens.

Young people.

People who need every bit of help they can get to figure out what being an adult looks like.  It’s not getting drunk and being proud of it.  Not for one minute.  No sir.  Being an adult doesn’t look like sitting around drinking coffee all the time (like in Friends) nor does it look like partying until you can’t remember anything the next day.

Being an adult is about making responsible choices.  Which is why I nearly laughed out loud at a high school graduation where the graduates were told they were adults now.  Hardly.  But we’ll save that for another night.

Country music, you had one of your finest moments when Mark Alan Springer and Shaye Smith wrote the song that Kenny Chesney recorded and released in 1998.  “That’s Why I’m Here.”  It’s a real picture of what can happen in real life as a result of all that partying and all that drinking.  I know this–I’ve watched it happen.

And I’m watching it again, country music.  My daughter has a friend who is drinking his life away.  At 18.  It might not happen now or in his 20’s or 30’s but how many do we have to lose to this disease in their 40’s and 50’s before someone stands up and says,  “Enough is enough.”

It’s time.

Enough is enough.

Please stop glamorizing drinking.  Please stop making it look like no fun can be had without a “Drink in My Hand.”  (Oh me, Eric Church–you do have some great songs out there, but this one…..oh me.)  It has a great tune, and I’ve watched my daughter’s friend belt this song out with a face full of joy–before he was drinking.  Y’all make it sound so fun.

And these kids don’t know any better.

Please.  Just.  Stop.

I love country music.  And my children do too.  But as my oldest watches friends and people she loves succumb to drinking and the poor judgment that comes with it, I’m considering shutting you out of my life.  I may be pulling out my Daddy’s record albums for more than just nostalgia if this doesn’t stop.  I don’t want my children to wind up like my daughter’s friend–at a get together and unable to relax and enjoy being with folks because he needs someone to bring his underage self a beer.

My heart breaks y’all.

It’s just too much.  When you’ve seen a life ruined and a person kill themselves with alcohol…..

It’s real.

Thank you country music for your time.  Please write and produce more songs with stories, really good stories, like you have in the past.  Not even about alcohol or drinking, but if it has to be about drinking, at least write ones that show the reality of it–like “That’s Why I’m Here,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” and Collin Raye’s “Little Rock.”   I know you have it in you.  Please show some responsibility.

Sincerely,

A Mama Who Has Three Precious Country Fans to Raise And Has Seen What Alcohol Can Really Do…..And It’s Not Fun

At All

 

 

 

 

A Sign You’ve Really Grown Up

 

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That picture right there.

Yes.  I took the picture.

Yes.  I meant to share it.

Why?

That’s a sign of my growing up when I moved out of my parent’s house.  For the first time.  (And yes, there was a second but that’s a story for another time.  Or maybe not.)

It has occurred to me over the past couple of days what growing up and moving out on my own really looked like.  And all I could think of was “toilet paper.”

The whole time I lived at home, summers in college included, I do not recall us EVER running out of toilet paper.

And why was that?

Because my Mama always made sure we had it.  A good supply.  With extras under the sink and big packs tucked in the bottom of the linen closet.  She kept us in stock.  No worries.

And on the off chance that you were in a compromising position with no toilet paper on the roll, you could holler out the universal call that said you were in need of said bathroom accessory:

“SOMEBODYYYY!!!!!”

Or at least that always worked at our house.  Eventually.

There was an episode of a tweens show, “Good Luck Charlie,” where the Mom was learning to text.  One afternoon she sent a message to her husband, “ITBOOTP.”  Eventually they had a discussion over what exactly that meant.  She gave him a “are you kidding me?” look and said, “In.The.Bathroom.Out.Of.Toilet.Paper.”

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ITBOOTP.  That made me LOL.  And yeah, I might have seen it in a text message around here once.  Or twice.  Ahem.

But I digress.

Suffice to say that when I was growing up the closest we came to running out of toilet paper was when it wasn’t on the roll.  But there was always some in the house.

When I lived in the dorms at college, we had community bathrooms my freshman year.  No chance of running out there.  The women who picked up and cleaned after us (bless ’em) made sure we always had toilet paper in stock.  The next three years I found toilet paper outside my suite room door once or twice a week.  I had a private bathroom and toilet paper provided.  I didn’t know enough to appreciate it then.

Until…..

I moved out on my own.  And guess whose responsibility it was to buy toilet paper then?

Ha.  Yeah.  Me.  Only it took me a little bit to actually figure that out.  As in one day, you look down and there are about six and a half squares left and you happen to think, “I need to put another roll out.”  And when there’s not one there, you wonder how in the world that happened.  Until hits you.

Welcome to the world of growing up.  It’s not all parties and watching whatever you want until all hours of the night and having friends over whenever you want and cooking and eating all of your favorites.  Let me tell you with absolute certainty, those friends of yours?  They might be okay if you can’t afford to order a pizza, but they are going to disappear fast if you don’t have toilet paper.

Don’t ask.

Being grown up and moving out on your own is less about you having things your own way and more about having toilet paper in stock.  That neither your Mama nor the dorm custodian supplied for you.

Yeah.  Toilet paper in your shopping cart.  That right there.  A true sign of maturity.20140408-225728.jpg

Tonight I’m thankful for all the years I didn’t have to worry about where the toilet paper was coming from.  I’m grateful now for privilege of having it, as I have friends for whom this is truly a luxury.  If you have someone making sure you never run out of the good stuff, go give them a hug and a big ol’ thank you.

And if you are the one who makes sure you never run out, congratulations.  You are the grownup.  Bless your heart.

a safe place for her to land

The goal of raising children is what?

To help them grow and leave and go out on their own, right?

The downside of that is, if you do your job right,

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DO.

My oldest had to say goodbye to both of my parents, two of the people she loved most in this world, way too soon in the past two years.  She aged and matured in the midst of that pain.  Then she went to college three months ago, and I saw the first shoots of her independent self bursting through. I realized I was catching a glimpse of whom she’s becoming, whom she’s going to be “when she grows up.”

This week she has had to, once again, say goodbye to someone she cared about. Way too soon.  I didn’t see her until after it was all over.  I talked to her regularly, but I wasn’t there to hold her hand, to give her a hug, to decide what she could hear or be exposed to.  I wasn’t there to protect her when the unkind things were said or when the really hard things happened.  All I could do was offer to be where she needed me to be when she needed me and wait and listen.  Letting her do this all by her big girl self, as she used to call it, was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

All I could do was sit back and watch her spread her wings…..

and be a safe place for her to land. 

She’s in the midst of learning what it means to be grownup.

And finding out it’s more than using curse words at will.  Or picking out your own clothes.

It’s learning to sit back and hold your tongue, even when the other person is being unkind or foolish.  It’s learning when to speak and when not to.

Being grownup means doing something even if you don’t want to, because it is, as Baddest Mother Ever says, “the next right thing.”   It glitters like fun but hurts like heartbreak, and when it’s all said and done, most of us who are grownups are left looking around wishing the real grownup would appear, because this is so much harder than we ever thought it would be.

When I was younger, so much younger, I thought being grownup meant watching whatever you wanted on TV as late as you wanted, eating whatever you liked, chewing a pack of gum a day, talking on the phone whenever you wanted to, driving without limits, being with friends and coming in and not having to get up and do chores the next morning.  I think when none of this actually came to fruition I was a bit shocked.  Yeah, all that glitter and fun and the like–it’s not real.

Real grownups cry.  They laugh at the faces babies make and the things their children say way harder than they ever did at any joke.  They have relationships that matter and they work to keep them.  They work hard before they ever get to play.  Sometimes they go days without “playing.”  Or weeks.  Or longer.  They say I’m sorry and don’t have to be right all of the time.  Real grownups rarely get to sit at Starbucks for hours sipping lattes and reading the latest People magazine.  They say thank you and mean it and then try to pay it forward.  They bring joy to others, and as my Mama would tell us, they act like they are somebody.

As I watch this one, whom I swanee was in diapers and onesies just last week, grow and make mature choices, I sometimes have to bite my tongue.  And sit on my hands.  I want to help, but this week has shown me that my little bird is sitting at the edge of the nest.  And ready or not, this girl is learning to fly and doing a pretty good job of it.

And while I realize that people like my parents and so many others have played a huge part in who she is, I also think about the things I’ve tried to teach her, and I give thanks.  Sometimes it seems like she really was listening.  And then I remember the little girl who was headstrong and adorable, just like her precious niece is now, who would curl up next to me on Friday nights and listen to the jazz music on public radio as we lay there in the dark,  and I curse a little myself.

Time.  And the job I did.

Sometimes I wish she would need me a little longer.

Then I smile.  She will need me.  Little birds have to take a rest and return to the nest every now and then. And those are the moments I will treasure the most.  The ones where we talk and I hear all about her adventures in the big blue sky out there.

A page has turned.  She is growing up on me.

It’s Not All About You

Created by Jon on keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Created by Jon on keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

My first job was at our small local library.  I started on a Tuesday, the day before I turned fourteen.  I worked Tuesdays and Thursdays through most of my high school career until we moved from the one room library at City Hall to our new building.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:45 to 6:00 as I recall.

I was responsible for checking books out, checking them in, re-shelving books and whatever else the librarian asked me to do.  When nothing else needed doing, it was my responsiblity to “read the shelves,” which meant I checked to make sure that all the books were in their correct spot.  Later I even did some of the storytimes for the young ones during the Summer Reading Program.

I had been working there almost a year.  My birthday was coming up.  On a Thursday that year.  I had already figured it out in my own mind that I would just switch up and work Tuesday and Wednesday so I could have my birthday off.  Made sense, right?  I happened to mention my game plan to my parents.  Ahem.  They were not so fond of my game plan.  Their position was I had a job, I had a scheduled time to be there, I needed to be there.  “You might as well learn now, folks don’t just have off on their birthday.”  What?! Are you kidding me?

I remember feeling pretty frustrated with them over this.  Actually I was downright mad.  What difference did it make?  When did I become a grownup and have to act accordingly?  Maybe I had written a script that I was going to get my learner’s permit that afternoon.  I don’t remember.  But I do remember this lesson.  It was perhaps one of the best lessons they taught me.  The world does not revolve around me and my comings and goings, such as birthdays.  Mama worked every one of her birthdays that I can remember.  I mean, a house doesn’t shut down for someone’s birthday.  Daddy worked every one that fell on a weekday.  And when it fell on a weekend, he was not the type to kick back in the recliner and let everybody wait on him hand and foot.  He did what needed to be done.

I was thinking about this today when I read some words of wisdom shared by Hugh Hollowell.  In his post, “The Important People,” he shares his father’s advice about jobs and life.  I got to thinking about that critical moment when my parents taught me what it meant to have a job.  Integrity.  Loyalty.  Giving it your all the whole time you are there.  Would my boss have let me off for my birthday?  Maybe so.  But I’m glad I didn’t even get to ask her.  I’ve thought a lot about what I want my daughter to learn, as she has her first job, the first in a string of many as she enters the real world of working and building a life for herself.  I want the world and especially those who work with her to see the fabulous person I think she is.  Most of the time.

I want her to be loyal.  When you work for someone or for a company, no words leave your lips that aren’t helpful or praising.  If you have an issue about something, go through the proper channels.  Complaining about it will not get you anything but a reputation as an unpleasant person.

When you are on the job, they OWN you.  And it’s okay, it’s legal. They are PAYING you.  So whatever you are asked to do, outside of something that would lead to your being handcuffed, you are good–just do it.  With respect.  Do it with the same amount of energy and dedication, whether you love it or hate it.  I even dare you to do it with a smile.

Work when you are scheduled.  With the exception of illness or death of a loved one, go to work.  You might miss some stuff, but you know what?  Dedication and applying yourself will pay off in the end.

And I want her to know a job is a privilege.  It is a privilege, not a right, to have a job and get paid to do it.  We see so many people each weekend who would love to have a paying job that it makes me angry to hear anyone whining about his or her job on a regular basis.

I’ve heard the saying that 30’s are the new 20’s.  I’m cool with that, because that makes me…..well, much younger than I really am.  However, if we continue with this math, we can get in trouble.  Are the 20’s the new teens?  If so, where does that leave our teens?  Oh good gravy, where are we headed?

The crew from friends, doing what they do best, hanging out

The crew from Friends, doing what they do best, hanging out

I loved the show Friends.  I watched it as a young married person.  I watched it as a new Mama.  I watch reruns occasionally now as Mama of three children, one almost in college.  It was entertaining.  Funny.  My sister uses Rachel’s line “You’re so pretty” on a regular basis, and I still crack up.  But here’s the thing.  It is not the real world.  I don’t know if the show led us where we are or if it was a reflection of where we, as a society, were heading; regardless, we are living in a world of young adults, many of whom don’t want to live in the real world.  They feel cheated because they don’t have the life of “hanging out with friends” that the entertainment industry has led them to believe can be had.  And I guess it can.  But not if they want to have clothes to wear and a roof over their heads and food to eat.  And those cups of coffee the gang had at Central Perk all the time–AIN’T. NO. WAY.

I know some pretty awesome young adults.  They are good people.  Many of them have it together.  But it is starting to worry me how many young adults today feel entitled to have their job working for them instead of the other way around–expecting the job to accommodate them and their schedule.  Jobs that don’t let them study when things are slow are simply “being difficult.”  I worked in a library, and reading a book was done only on my personal time.  Jobs that don’t let them clock out early when things are slow–what is that about?  I’ve even heard young people say that between working and going to school they are busy five days a week! *sigh*  I don’t know what is happening, but I do know this.

My seventeen year old is watching.

She is watching television that makes her think her life should be much different than it is.  AND she is watching the young adults in her life.  And she is learning a lot.  I’m just her Mama.  What do I know?  Daddy was right.  Nobody’s going to help me raise these children.  I’m trying hard to instill good work ethics and values in my young adult in the short time I have left with her, but I fear other voices might be louder.

So I am asking those of you who have graduated from high school or college and aren’t still in school, if you haven’t already, please join the real world.  Get a job and take it seriously.  You’ll make mistakes.  I sure did.  But what I found was that when I humbly apologized and asked how I could right my wrong, more times than not, it all turned out okay.  So yes, find employment.  It might not be your dream job or where you want to be in five years.  We’ve all been there.  (Well, except for maybe Donald Trump, but I digress.) But whatever job you accept, give it your all–all of your energy, all of your positive attitude, all of your very best effort, and respect those in charge.  Because here’s some wisdom I learned from my parents thirty years ago and it still rings true today.  It’s not all about you.  And please, just as I expect my teenager to set a good example for our littles, PLEASE set a good example for those younger than you.  Let them learn from you what a good employee looks like.  Because maybe, just one day, they’ll be working for you, and you’ll be glad you did.