These days we hum along to the same handful of children’s songs, inserting our own lyrics without realizing it. The soundtracks of the baby devices that surround us are the worst offenders, massaging our neural pathways until we’re both singing the siren song of the Fisher Price Rock & Play Sleeper or Skip Hop Activity Center while rolling through the aisles of the grocery store.
In a laughing fit fueled by exhaustion and causal Stockholm Syndrome, I completely lost my mind after walking in on Jacob singing “close your eyes, Mister Peepers” to our infant daughter, imagining Caspar Babypants
sweetly serenading a ventriloquist dummy. The actual lyrics, “close your eyes, little sleeper” are much less funny. Now, when turning over in bed to fall asleep with our respective screens, we whisper “close your eyes, Mister Peepers, close your eyes.”
A major benefit of marriage is that sometimes you only need one person to be in on the joke with you. And the joke doesn’t even have to be funny.
In case you are not fully steeped in kid culture, Caspar Babypants (AKA Chris Ballew) is a local children’s musician who was once the frontman of The Presidents of the United States of America. It feels odd to call him local, as if referring to Eddie Vedder as my neighbor and Stroller Strides partner, but Caspar (Mr. Babypants? Chris?) regularly plays morning shows at my neighborhood doughnut shop as well as the clubs I used to frequent with terrible boyfriends a lifetime ago. Asking the Google smart speaker to play his “Night Night” album every evening as the baby winds down for bed is a real exercise in trying not to feel as if my wild youth as officially passed me by.
Because of course it has.
It made its exit long before Frida was born. But this is not about me feeling bummed that I’ll probably never come home sweaty, ears ringing, and smelling like sticky drinks and old cigarettes again. I’ve wanted to be an adult with a house and a baby and a husband and a dog my entire life, despite how very uncool that made me feel at one point. But I will admit that there’s a moment when the Uber that is escorting me to whatever child-free activity I’ve been able to finagle my way into cranks up 90’s on 9 and it’s everything I can do to not roll down the window and thrust my head into the breeze like a rescue dog headed towards its forever home.
A few nights ago while putting Frida to bed Jacob informed me in a state of absolute dread that the Google robot box had suddenly refused to play Caspar Babypants. I fully realize that that last sentence sounds like an autocorrected word salad from yipster hell. But here we are. Grasping at straws, we attempted to replace the endearing, whimsical jams of Capsar with Rockabye Baby, a collection of songs that are essentially instrumental music box covers of pop favorites. A few beats in, as I attempted to feed Frida yet another slice of overripe banana, a horrified houseguest stumbled upon our panicked tableau and asked if we were “listening to fucking Coldplay?!?”
Reader, we were.
Adjusting to motherhood has frequently felt like searching for the right lyrics to a song I’ve sung for years. Who’s to say what the correct words are? I thought I knew what parts of my body to hate. I thought I knew what a sleepless night was. I thought I knew what a productive hour felt like. Now, I kiss the baby goodnight and meet the Uber outside. When K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life” starts playing I unroll the window just a little.