You know how there are just some songs that no matter when you hear them, you instantly have memories pop up and feelings that bubble up? The ones that you have to stop in your tracks, turn up the volume and take a moment?
Jann Arden’s Good Mother does that for me. I know a lot of it has to do with when it was released – 1996 was when I was graduating highschool and heading off to university. We know that songs released in our late teens/early adulthood that we listened to a lot are the ones that stick with us for life – our life soundtrack if you will. It’s also the composition of the song – the melody lines, the production – it’s a work of art.
As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, I find Good Mother is constantly in my musical mind. Relationships with mothers can range from simple to complicated. My mother amazes me every day. She has more energy than anyone I know and can accomplish so much in a single day it leaves me in awe. Being a mother to three kids myself is something I am constantly aware of – how my actions and words shape them, how I always worry about them – am I doing enough?
Me and my mother, Lucille Mahoney attending my brother & sister-in-law's moving away send-off in 2015 (I'm very pregnant here!)
When times get tough – and let’s serious – it has not been easy as of late, I have those Jann Arden iconic Canadian lyrics playing in my mind “feet on ground, heart in hard, facing forward, be yourself”. I cannot think of more perfect advice for any mother out there. For any person – what a beautiful mantra to follow.
At the studio we are so fortunate to be connected to so many mothers. And because we offer such a wide range of classes and lessons, we get to see every type of mama – brand new moms, moms of multiple children, moms of teens, empty nesting moms, and even grandmothers! Getting to see incredible women raising beautiful children and grandchildren each and every day is absolutely humbling.
I reached out to a few mamas to hear from them about what motherhood means to them, and how music has connected them to their motherhood journey. Here is a quick peek into their special lives.
Meet Alannah MacLean and Parker, 11 months old. I met Alannah through her husband Travis, who taught my oldest son last year in elementary school. This year Alannah started bringing Parker to our baby Kindermusik classes and every week I can, I try to sneak in a little visit to see Parker’s growth, and watching Alannah navigate the joys of motherhood. If you get a chance to meet Alannah yourself, you will immediately feel her warmth and welcoming nature.
Alannah and Parker on one of their daily outdoor adventures 🙂
I asked her what has surprised her most about being a mother. She shared this:
Since becoming a mother, I realized that the best teacher I have ever had is my 11 month old son, Parker. His curious mind has opened up my world in every way. I find myself looking more closely at things like the grass, snowflakes on mittens, the bark on trees, things found under the couch, buttons on shirts, and spaghetti noodles. He has taught me that I am stronger than I know and helped me level-up in multi-tasking. He has shown me a whole new kind of love that I had always heard of, but have now experienced first-hand. He has taught me patience, how to let go of the little things, and how to live in the moment. The amount of growth and change I have experienced these past 11 months is all thanks to the world's cutest teacher - who challenges me every day to keep learning.
I find my heart goes out to new moms in this past year. Many, including Alannah, are raising their brand new babies without being able to have grandparents close by.
I have a newfound appreciation for my mom raising me without immediate family support available, and doing so in a place far more remote than Nova Scotia (my parents were living away from family teaching in a remote Inuit village in Northern Québec).
When I asked Alannah how music plays a role in her daily life, she nailed it:
I always joke that my life as a mom is like a musical 24/7. Raffi is on repeat in the house and when we aren't in the house,it's often playing in my head. I know that years from now, listening to some of the songs I am listening to now with Parker will open the floodgates of our time spent together. We will always cherish the beautiful role that music plays in weaving our special memories together.
Meet Cynthia Mahoney. Cynthia is my wonderful sister-in-law (I am blessed to have four sister-in-laws!) and she lives outside of Cleveland, Ohio with my brother Michael, and their two children Jackson (15) and Kathryn (17).
Cynthia and her daughter Kathryn at her recent Highschool Prom!
When Cynthia had Kathryn, I was 25 years old and about to get married. I knew nothing about being a mother at the time, but was a teacher and was thrilled to be an aunt for the first time! We have had many opportunities to travel to the states, and they are always so wonderful to come home to NS. These past 14 months have been the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other, and with Kathyrn graduating highschool, we are truly missing the chance to be part of that special day. Thank goodness for technology!
Cynthia shared some powerful and fun thoughts on motherhood with me:
The biggest surprise is how much you love your kids. Even when they drive you nuts ? I knew I would love them but it isn’t like any other love you had experienced before. I often think of how lucky I am to watch these cute, sweet little kids grow into the amazing young adults they are. The fact that I am a part of this process is humbling, a little frightening, and awesome. Through the good and sometimes trying times it has been something I so grateful for.
Cynthia’s parents also live in Canada, in Ontario so it’s been a long time since she has been able to see her own mother as well.
I am similar to my mom in so many ways. I try to instill all the important lessons she taught me in Kathryn and Jackson, and try to be the positive influence she was for me. She taught me to love my kids and to have fun with them, but to still be the mom. They may not always like what I have to say, but they know I am always there for them when they need me and love them unconditionally.
To say that music plays a big part of the Mahoney family would be an understatement. Music defines them. Cynthia’s Grandmother was an organist and piano teacher, and her mother is an accomplished pianist. Cynthia grew up playing the piano and cello in school and has been in many choirs. And of course music has always filled the Mahoney’s home – stop into my mother’s home (Cynthia’s mother-in-law) and you will always find Lucille up for a fiddle tune, or a jam with the guitars, piano and harmonica.
From their beginnings in Kindermusik (both are grads of Cathy Huser’s Kindermusik of Cleveland program), both Mahoney kids have gone on to study music in many forms. Kathryn loves music so much that she plans to build her career around it. She has been accepted into Bowling Green State University to pursue a degree in Music Performance (Percussion) and minor in Music Technology. I spend a huge part of my life taking kids to lessons, nagging (!) them to practice, enjoying them perform, volunteering with the school band program, and love every minute of it. It brings us together and continues to shape the kids in new and interesting ways. They are artistic problem solvers, and I think it has helped them develop into the great people they are. Music also gives me the energy to keep up with their crazy schedule and provides calm when things are hairy. Music is definitely our life!
The entire Mahoney Family on a Marching Band night - Go Riverside Regiment!
Personally, my mother’s mother, Anniebelle Aucoin was full of music. I cannot remember any time in her Cheticamp home where the fiddle tunes were not on, where she was playing the spoons, jigging a tune in her mouth, and just having a great time. I am sure she was busy – she had a large household – but all I remember was JOY. And I think that’s important for us to keep in mind – what children see in us versus how we feel all the time. I often feel like I am running non-stop. But I am hopeful my kids will remember the joy, the fun, the music.
They say it takes a village to raise children, and that statement is very true. I feel so lucky that our children have both sets of grandparents here in Nova Scotia. Right now they feel far as we cannot leave our community due to the pandemic, but I am hopeful that will turn around soon.
Meet Judy Arbique, "Nana J" 🙂 Judy started bringing her granddaughters to our Kindermusik programs a few years back. Instantly I felt so much love watching her interact with Audrey and Amelia. We are very blessed at the studio to see many grandparents each and every week – participating in classes with their little grandbabies, or bringing older grandkids back and forth to lessons.
Life is better with Grandmothers!
Being a grandmother is a whole other level of motherhood and I wanted to get Judy’s view on this relationship. Judy shared a very deep realization:
I carried my grandchildren in my womb as I carried my daughter Sara for 9 months. Therefore, I carried her eggs that would be Audrey and Amelia!
Audrey and Amelia have taught me to live now...in the moment....to play, use my imagination, and find joy & magic!
When thinking about her own mother, Judy shared that unfortunately, my Mom died at age 60 and only had a few years to spend with my children and her granddaughters. I want to spend many years with Audrey and Amelia.
Judy loves music. She is always keen to sing along in our classes, and she enjoys the social aspect of the music scene.
I am so grateful to share my love of music to Audrey and Amelia, and provide opportunities for them as they explore, listen, sing, play music, drum, and dance.
Audrey & Amelia - two peas in a pod 🙂
No matter what stage of life you are currently experiencing, I am sure you have a connection to some kind of mother-figure. I hope you have had the opportunity to experience warmth and joy with that woman. I hope you sang together, danced together and had a laugh together.
And to all the mamas out there – soon-to-be, new, in the thick of it, experienced, grandmas and those looking down on us, I wish you a lovely Mother’s Day filled with joy and music.
Remember: feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself.