Parenting, Serious stuff

Celebrate the small victories

Raising teenagers is tough work. Every parent knows this. Much of our time is spent in constant battle about homework, attitude, fashion, showering and a million other endless and mind-numbing topics. Most days I consider it a victory if I make it through the evening with only one of my two teenagers not speaking to me.

Communication is so difficult at this age that I find myself yearning for their younger selves. Who would have thought I’d miss the days where Elmo and Max and Ruby were topics I’d want to talk about? I remember thinking that my brain was going to turn to liquid and pour out of my ears if I had to watch those two rabbits one. More. Time. Now, I’d give my left arm to have anything to talk to them about that made them WANT to converse with me.

I got my wish today with some of the saddest news the music industry had to suffer. My oldest son and I share a love of music, much of the same music, an eclectic taste that my husband does not understand. Jimmy called me.

“Mom, did you hear that David Bowie died?”

“Yeah, I did. It’s sad. He was only 69.”

We talked for a good fifteen minutes about him, about his music and his influence on culture. We talked about his songwriting and his collaborations with other musicians and the career that spanned decades.

He ended the conversation with, “I just wanted to talk to you about this. I know we aren’t huge fans, but I thought we’d need to talk about this. To process it.”

My 15 year-old son brought me to tears with one word. We.

It occurred to me that this was one of those moments parents need to cling to, one of the small victories. My mind hung on those two letters like a drowning man to a life raft. In this sea of teenage angst, wandering in a forest of parental confusion, we became a sliver of light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel. My heart soared.

Find your moment, parents. Find your “we.” And cling to it with all you have.


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The Best Movies With Killer Soundtracks From the Early ’90’s

Every teenager loves music, and I was no exception.  The early ’90’s were that transition period from high school to college for me.  It was the beginning of the grunge movement, a rock offshoot that still makes my musical heart go pitter-patter and yearn for those youthful days before bills and kids and Snoop Doggy Dog.

As the mother of a teenager I try to remember how important music used to be to me, especially when he’s be-bopping around the house with earphones and singing off-key. Somewhere along the line, I lost my connection to that part of me that revolved around a great tune.  When I brought this up to a friend recently, she agreed that the older we’ve gotten the less we’ve listened. This brought us around to our favorite movies of that time period that had awesome soundtracks.  We whittled it down to five.

(Click on the titles for a direct link to purchase each soundtrack. I make no money from this. Just sharing the awesomeness. 😉 )

1. Empire Records

This movie did not do well in theaters and it baffles me to this day.  It’s worth the time for Gen Xers to watch for two simple reasons: a) the soundtrack is amazing, featuring up-and-comers of its time like The Gin Blossoms, The Cranberries and Toad the Wet Sprocket, and b) it takes place in the relic of our youth–a record store. Filled with a representative of every social level you ever encountered in high school, there isn’t much for someone who loves the ’90’s not to embrace here. It’s a classic coming-of-age movie that truly does ROCK.

2. Singles

No list of ’90’s movies is ever complete unless it includes this one. I have to admit, though, that I love this movie for three reasons, the third being the most bizarre. First, of course, is the fact that it’s a great romantic comedy and the perfect date night movie if you’re looking for the nostalgia of your youth. Second, this movie not only has oodles of cameos of significant people from the Seattle grunge movement, but they also appear on the soundtrack. Those of us who were really into that scene will forever consider this album when picking out their college anthem, with bands like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam (when they were just starting out and were known as Mookie Blaylock). Which leads me to my third reason for loving this movie.  Two words: Eddie. Vedder. He has a brief cameo in the movie. Every self-respecting grunge lover had a crush on him in the ’90’s (some of us still do!).

3.  Forrest Gump

Seldom has there ever been a movie whose soundtrack was so huge.  It took 2 full CD’s to capture this album’s awesomeness. Because the movie takes place over the span of one man’s life, the music feels like the soundtrack to history itself. Featuring Elvis, Joan Baez, Creedance Clearwater Revival and Bob Seger, it has something for everyone. This movie is a lovely tear-jerker and the music doesn’t disappoint.

4.  Reality Bites

Whenever I bring this one up, my friends cringe, but I can’t help but love it. For one, it’s full of pop culture references and I am a pop culture junkie. Who doesn’t like a movie that beckons memories from our youth like “Conjunction Junction?” And, again, this soundtrack is really great, featuring Lisa Loeb’s breakout hit “Stay (I Missed You).” She didn’t even have a record label yet when this song got popular, all because of a little movie about our generation becoming disenfranchised after college graduation. Let’s face it, it was a little prophetic, too, wasn’t it?

5. Dazed and Confused

Maybe this list says more about my movie taste than it does about my love of music, but this movie does not deserve the cross-eyed looks I get when I mention it. I love it because it takes place in the ’70’s–not because I particularly care for the fashion, but because I love the cars. I remember driving in the back of a few of them as a kid.  I miss the days an entire family could fit comfortably in a car and no one worried about gas mileage. Not only was this film a spot-on reflection of high school dynamics, but the soundtrack harkens me back to my childhood and dancing to KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd in my grandfather’s living room. We saved Alice Cooper for home.

Very few movies of the ’90’s could boast the shear talent found on these soundtracks.  Seldom do you find a movie that is both great and has a killer soundtrack. I think I am going to wrangle my teen into a ’90’s movie night this weekend just so I can share some of the tunes his mama used to sing off-key.