Monday, March 12, 2012

Parents with Angst: Music BY Parents FOR Parents

It's about the parents this time. 

WHAT: Parents with Angst
DOES: Pioneering a new genre of music that explores the challenges and joys of parenting; the whole CD is dedicated to it! That's news!
INVEST: $9.99 for CD or digital album; individual songs also for sale.
TOOLS: Family Fix-it

Once I was stuck in traffic coming home from yet another seminar about education.  After leaving, I couldn't wait to get home, catch my breath, and get back to work.  But I got stuck in some bad traffic- really, really, really bad traffic.

I was moving so slow, there was construction everywhere, the roads were narrowed and the sun was just beating down on me but it was the middle of winter and so I had a thick coat on.  I wanted to open the window but it was so loud.  I wished I could call a friend but my cellphone battery was dead.   #$%@!!!

I became so frustrated that I was soon talking to myself and then the mumbling turned into growling and then into "filth florin' filth" as Bill Cosby used to say.  I was in total rage and I couldn't even get off the highway to scream.  If I had something alcoholic to drink, I probably would have taken a shot right there.  Even though I live in a very busy city, I am not used to traffic.  Driving is husband duty ... like taking out the trash- I just dislike it a lot so I avoid it as much as possible.  When he drives, I sit in the passenger seat and check my email, read, or skim through catalogs so if we have traffic, I actually become very productive.   

The couple recorded 3 successful CDs as Amelia's Dream before creating "Parenting Music"

But that day, I was stuck in a cauldron of my own anger.  I didn't know what to do but to turn on some music.  I don't really listen to music.  I have too much in my head and I can't focus and so music has been out of my life for a long time but that day I turned it on really loud and attempted to perform an exorcism by singing at the top of my lungs. 

It worked! 

By the time I came home, I had gone from fire-breathing status to just blowing out small puffs of smoke from my nostrils.  I was amazed that music was the vodka that I needed during my crisis.  I never forgot that.

It's my suspicion that many parents stop doing a couple of things when they become parents.  One is the practice of leisurely reading the Sunday newspaper and the other is listening to music.   Not keeping up with the times leaves us isolated and I'm realizing that not listening to music is another huge loss.

Enter Parents with Angst, a husband and wife duo that has created something known as "parenting music." If there was anyone before them, I apologize for not knowing.  Regardless, there is no question that we have other media that features parenting (t.v., books, movies, and the 1 gazillion+ mom-blogs), but have you ever heard of music that is all about parenting?

Does it work?  Can "Parenting Music" really be pulled off? 

My husband dislikes the NBC show, Parenthood but I like it very much.  And so, if a husband and wife can differ so much on a show about parenting, I dare not answer this question for you except to say that I am grateful that singer/songwriter Amelia Gewirtz and singer/songwriter/producer Harold Stephan have created an album of songs that take turns making me chuckle and sniffle.  Being someone who admittedly doesn't take time to listen to music anymore, I don't feel wholly qualified to "review" music but what I can do is take pleasure in introducing this novel concept to Toys are Tools readers whom I know to be folks who are intrigued by what is novel and unusual but still demand things to be highly useful.

Harold and Amelia met in a songwriting class back in 1992.

When it comes to novel concepts for adults with angst, I like to turn to Dr. Kim Busi, a New York City psychiatrist who left a faculty appointment at NYU School of Medicine to focus on work as a Founder and Director of the Quad Manhattan, an afterschool center for twice-exceptional students.   Dr. Busi knows a lot about angst, not only as an adult psychiatrist but also as a mother of a twice-exceptional child.

"I  am endlessly enchanted by how parents incorporate being parents into their life and identity  BC (before children)," said Dr. Busi.  "This music was created by clearly talented artists who were inspired by their own story of becoming parents to do what they do -  they made art - and in doing so, they allow parents anywhere to feel connected to this universal experience every time they listen to the songs.  That is what is so cool about this music!"

Amelia and Harold also provide tons of helpful information on their blog about topics ranging from speech therapy to healthy eating.

Why is this New? 

The thing is, you have to wonder, why is this concept so new?  Obviously, parenting has been happening for a long time.  I think even when the movie Parenthood, starring Steve Martin, was released, the sentiment back then was something akin to "Wow, we can talk about this?"

So now it's "Wow, we can sing about this?"   If you are asking this question, here is an excerpt from a fun song from their album... despite the title, remember that this song, "Mac and Cheese," as well as the rest of the songs were created for grown-up listening....

I want mac and cheese
I want it now
I want pretzels
I want them now
I want yogurt and
Cottage cheese please
I want mac & cheese
I want it now
I’ll take a hot dog
A burger & fries
Some crackers might make
A sparkle in my eyes
I want what I want
Not what you want
The timing’s terrible
So you try to sing a song
To calm me down
‘Cause a crowd’s looking on
But I don’t care
‘Cause I am flipping out
You think my blood sugar
Might be the issue
You got some drama
Well go get a tissue
I want the tire swing
I want it now...
to read more lyrics and listen to the songs, click HERE.

Or how about this song?  "No More Time"

I wake up and I’m 12 things behind
Before my day has begun
I check my list
I cant resist
Though it seems oblivious

That there’s
no more time
There is
No more time
24 hours a day and only 12
have sunshine

does the baby have everything
does daddy have what he needs
is the sitter happy or is she gonna leave
is there milk in the house
is there money in the bank
did I brush my teeth
where the hell do I rank?
...... to read more lyrics and listen to the songs, click HERE.

For me, I identify with the latter song more but the "Mac and Cheese" song makes me laugh and laugh and laugh!!!   Sometimes I feel like I am in living in a dimension known as insanity and sometimes I think that I am so inept and that with every complaint, I only further demonstrate all that I can't do and then you hear "Mac and Cheese" and every that DOESN'T matter disappears.  Is that medicine or is it magic?

Parents with Angst also features video interviews of experts discussing anything from violence in the media to school admissions.

The Hardest Job in the World

You'd think that a person that feels like me would be grateful when I hear professionals say "parenting is the hardest job in the world."   I know that all these great people mean well but whenever I hear that, I just feel like throwing up.  

I wonder if this is due to my somewhat-Confucian upbringing but I think being a parent is not my job, it's my role.  A role is an identity in relation to someone else.  As long as that someone else is a presence, in your house or even just in your heart and mind, you have this role and it's who you are for life.  You can quit a job but you can't quit being you and gosh, while I don't want to quit my role, I secretly do wish for vacations.  But alas, unless you had temporary amnesia, there can be no vacation from your role. 

In the meantime, we can take an opportunity to witness something novel that describes the "hardest job in the world."   I wish I had the CD that day when I was just screaming from traffic-induced rage.  Music that seems to validate all that I worry about can be stronger than a shot of vodka  and also safer if I am still driving and yelling at my windshield. Parents with Angst, thanks for the magic!

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the mentioned products for the publication of this post.  Dr. Busi was provided a copy of the CD to help facilitate her interview for this post.  All videos embedded and all photos are courtesy of Parents with Angst.

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