Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why You Should "Get Down" When You're Down

There are just some days when you feel like you should not have gotten out of bed.  You know, the kind of day when every SINGLE thing goes wrong?  You wake up exhausted, burn breakfast, forget to send your child’s lunch with him/her to school, drop every item that you pick up and cannot manage to accomplish any task that you undertake.  Try as you might, you are not able to escape the impending cloud of doom that is hanging over your head and the inevitable result is that you are in a mood so foul that the slightest provocation will result in serious injury to innocent bystanders.

So, what do you do?  What could possibly tame the insane shrew that you have become?  And most importantly, how do you save your poor innocent children from your fiery wrath?  The answer is pure and simple:  it’s time to “get down.”  When I realize that my inner Hulk is about to emerge, I quickly grab my cell phone, hook it up to the kitchen speakers and choose a song that will kick my cranky ass out of its funk.

This method is complete GENIUS as far as I’m concerned.  Think about it – how can you possibly be in a bad mood when your favorite song is on?  As soon as you hear the opening bars, you can feel the tension begin to drain from your shoulders.  A few more seconds into the song, you find the corners of your mouth tugging into a smile and before you know it, your booty can’t help but start shakin’. 

It is usually about this time when my boys peek their heads around the corner to see what their crazy mother is up to in the kitchen.  (Because of the previous appearances of Demon Mommy, they had high tailed it into the living room and sought safe haven in cartoons.)  The kitchen is where all of the serious dancing takes place in my house - most likely due to the facts that a) it is the largest open space we have and b) my work in this room is NEVER done.

Some of you may have one particular song that does the trick every time, but I have a variety of go-to songs to lighten my mood.  “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves is a definite crowd pleaser and has the added benefit of being child friendly.  The eighties train continues with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and “Mickey” by Tony Basil.  But no one is bigger in my house than Billy Joel, so on a bad day, you will probably find us cranking up “Only the Good Die Young”, “Keeping the Faith” or “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”  I have yet to find another songwriter who has mastered the feel good melody as well as he has.

My wonderful boys bring a whole new level of humor to the dance party in the kitchen.  They have created the most amazing musical renditions you will ever lay eyes on.  My nine-year-old gives a jaw dropping performance of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” complete with Steven Tyleresque facial expressions and wicked dance moves.  My three-year-old opts for the Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”  Watching the pure joy on his face as he hears those unforgettable opening chords kicks Demon Mommy to the curb.  And his little swagger as he carries around his Elmo guitar and sings is PRICELESS! 

Unfortunately for my poor boys, they have inherited their mother’s tone deaf singing, but this fact only makes us smile more.  They belt out tunes at the top of their lungs followed by peals of laughter at their vocal fortitude.  Then they beg me to take video after video of their musical masterpieces to watch later that evening with popcorn.  I smile as I imagine them forming a band of their own one day.  And I enjoy each and every moment of our dance marathon secure in the knowledge that the two toy drum sets (because one just wasn’t enough) that my husband’s mother sent are safely tucked away upstairs, far, far away from our current activities.  Nothing kills your newly found good mood like loud, erratic drum beats.  Excedrin, anyone?

The great thing about saving your sanity with music is that you can partake in this method even when outside the home, because bad mood or not, your kids have places to go and people to see.  If you’re like me, the car is one of the places where my bad mood is magnified.  On a good day, I have no tolerance for obnoxious and/or careless drivers, but when I am in the depths of despair, the level of profanity that can come out of my mouth reaches a whole new level.  And swearing like a sailor is simply not a skill that I want to teach my wee ones. (Although if my father were alive, he would remind me that this is a very important part of a child’s education.  More on that topic in a later blog.)

When in the car, I rely on the wonders of satellite radio for my musical escape.  I spend most of my time with XM’s 80s on 8 and 90s on 9.  It is rare that I do not find a well-loved tune on either one of those stations and I soon find my mind casting back through an array of memories from my youth.  “Manic Monday” by the Bangles reminds me of junior high school, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel reminds me of high school, “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa reminds me of college and I cannot hear “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors without remembering driving down the California coast with my older sister in her Cabriolet with the top down.  Full body dancing may not be possible in a car, but your head can bop, your shoulders can shimmy and you can sing at the top of your lungs – preferably with the windows closed so as not to scare passersby.  Five minutes of good music in the car will cure whatever ails you.  Or at least put it off for an hour or two.

Now if by some odd twist of fate, I happen to be on my own (in the car or otherwise), I turn to Prince to shake my blues away.  “Darling Nikki” and “Get Off” are two of my absolute favorites, but they are not songs that my young men need to hear.  Explaining concepts like “masturbation”, “grinding”, “getting served” and “one night stands” is just not an idea that I will entertain.  So Prince is a secret that Demon Mommy keeps to herself for those days when she is actually ALONE and can listen to something a little more provocative.  And as a very wise friend of mine once said, “There is nothing that a little Prince can’t fix.”  Amen to that, Kel.

The best part is when my husband comes home at the end of the day to find the three of us shaking our rumps all over the kitchen with huge grins on our faces.  Long forgotten is the epic tantrum that my three-year-old threw over not having the precise shade of purple crayon that his heart desired and the snark that my nine-year-old sent my way for daring to ask him to do his homework in a timely manner.  We have exorcised our black moods with the power or music (and the resulting booty shaking).  If by chance, my husband has had a bad day as well, at least he is met with a picture that is guaranteed to make him laugh.  And if that is not enough to lift his spirits, you can bet that Metallica will be up next.

I think that you will find that this brilliant stress reducing technique will work 99.999999% of the time.  For the remaining 0.000001% of the time, I find that French fries and chocolate go a long way in taking the edge off…

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