How Pandora Made Me Cool It

Parenting is an exercise in giving up. You thought you were in control? Don’t let your relatively easy pregnancy fool you into believing that you were ready for what was coming. The instant that baby comes into the world, you surrender it all. Not just the restful nights when you think you can turn it all off. Nope. Even if the baby is a sleeper, she still keeps you up worrying. Why is she sick? Does she have typhoid? Why isn’t she sick? She should have had at least eleventy billion colds by now. Something’s wrong because she’s well all the time.

Yes, that last thought was one that I have had.

There is a lot of truth to the statement “I was a better parent before I had kids.” Everything you think you won’t do, you do do. And that do do? It rules your life. But I digress. You said you’d never give them snacks with added sugar, but that was before you realize that it’s really hard to find snacks without sugar in them that don’t cost at least 50% more than the regular snacks. You said that you’d make time for your marriage. There would be dates. But where are those dates? It’s hard to get romantic when you think about the extra cost of babysitters.

That giving up is good, though. Take the Great Pandora Debate that’s been going on in our household for the last week or so. I’d make a Pandora’s Box joke but that just seems too easy. So we have Pandora Internet radio. Not the kind you pay for and have the ads removed. When you look down our list of stations when they are sorted by “date added”, you can easily see when C started really getting into music because there’s a break from “Passion Pit” radio to “Ella Jenkins” radio. “Schoolhouse Rock” radio. “Disney” radio. She likes that stuff. Granted, she likes some of our music too, but she likes that kid music better, and that’s OK by me because I only make stations for her that I don’t mind listening to as well. Do yourself a favor and make a Schoolhouse Rock station. You’ll thank me later.

So we listen to the music throughout the day, and sometimes my husband will just switch the music mid-song. Such a habit can be filed among the minutiae of life that one only notices when s/he has settled into a routine with his/her family. Switching the Pandora station without asking is our family’s equivalent of my own father’s annoying penchant for channel surfing during commercial breaks when I was a kid. Both of these habits just annoy me. Let the song play to completion, dangit. It’s going to be hard enough to instill any degree of patience in C since she entered the world at a time when all she needs to do is Google a query when she needs to know something. I can only image how my own ADD would have been exacerbated had I been born 25 years later than I was. The invention of Twitter decimated all the focus I was able to accumulate during the first 29 years of my life.

But I chose my battles. I give up not out of exhaustion but because doing so helps me keep control of perspective. Pro tip: the only thing you need to control in life is your perspective because everything else is gravy. This is for my own good as well as that of my family. The baby is not going to be scarred for life if B cuts off the end of “Do Re Mi.” She will withstand the onslaught of hearing Grimes instead of Raffi. She is completely aware of how much he loves her, and that is something that she will never second guess. Thirty years from now, she may not remember the third verse to “The Wheels On the Bus”, but she will know that her father adores her and has been doing so ever since she was a baby. And that’s what matters.


  1. You’re such a mom and write about all the motherdom perfectly! I’m still getting the hang of giving up. With daily reminders via pee pants & vegetable throwing you’d think I’d have mastered it by now :)

    1. The food throwing truly tests one’s patience. C has started smearing all her food through her hair, which I wouldn’t mind so much except she does it at breakfast. And she bathes at night. Sigh. Yep, we moms are pretty much all angels.

  2. Ah yes, I look back fondly on all those things “I’d never do” as a parent. Them were the days.

    1. They are almost inescapable. I am becoming my own mother more and more every day, which is partly horrifying and great.

      1. Yes. Becoming our mothers. Yes. It’s like a greased slide.We can’t stop it.

        1. That’s your tagline!

          1. It is a glorious journey, paved with all the things we SWORE we’d never say or do.

  3. This pretty much perfectly sums up the feeling of being a parent.

    1. Thanks! These themes are pretty universal.

  4. I grew up with the original School House Rock and I can still sing the songs. They still help me remember parts of speech and mathematics and how a bill becomes a law. There’s a lot to be said for School House Rocks.

    1. They are the best, aren’t they? It’s fun listening to them with C because I remember so much more than I thought I did!

  5. hahaha! Let’s face it, when you become a parent the entire book of, what you thought it would be like, and what you’d do, goes out the window. A-buh-bye!! It’s humbling to say the least. Date night? LOL, that’s just a joke, right? No money + no energy = no date night. I don’t think I had a date with my husband until the kids were nine years old and could babysit themselves! (By that stage I was already losing my feminine appeal since we couldn’t afford hair care, make-up and a gym membership! It was a cruel time.) And then it was probably to McDonald’s for a chocolate shake and back home. haha!

    School House Rock may be the greatest invention of all time. I wish they had come up with songs for algebra, physics and European History, too.

    I still haven’t been introduced to the world of Pandora. Since Lily’s visiting this week I’ll make sure she hooks me up. She’s promised to freshen my blog up a bit, too.

    Great post, Emily!! You always crack me up!!

    1. We came pretty late to the Pandora game too. I think it got really popular when we were in Korea so when we came back everyone was crazy about it. I think you’ll like it! B uses Spotify too but I’m more of the school where I only adopt a new technology once a year ;D

      I can’t wait to see the new look of your blog! Lily will do a good job!

  6. Wow, thanks for the heads up! I hope our child gets all my wife’s cool genes and is musically trendy. I’ll have to submit her to rigorous musical testing. I’ll start with the universally loved U2 litmus and the universally detestable (over the age of twelve) Bieber control. If she tolerates or smiles at the former while spitting up and vomiting at the latter then we know we have a winner. I’ll keep you posted!

    1. My husband and I were just talking about U2 the other day and how we don’t trust anyone who says they don’t like their music. If you can’t get down to Achtung Baby you have no soul ;) I hate to tell you though, but she will probably like the Biebster. Little babes like super catchy stuff. Case in point: C was obsessed with Gangnam Style for like three months straight. It was all we could do to hold onto our sanity. My best advice is to keep that stuff away from them so they never know it exists!

  7. Check out the Ralph Covert (children’s b/c he also has adult music) station, too. It’s Sonia’s favorite, and it’s actually tolerable.

    Oh, also, ever notice how even though you’re listening to “toddler radio” the ads are totally inappropriate?

    1. I will add that too our Pandora! And yes, the ads are TOTALLY redonk. Some of the songs that sneak on there too are kind of bizarre and random. This morning when we were listening to Schoolhouse Rock radio, the Fugees cover of “No Woman, No Cry” came on after “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. What.

  8. I love Schoolhouse Rock – the DVDs are great too…it’s NEVER too early to learn about conjunctions…

    My son gets to listen to more kid music with his grandmother, who has XML Satellite Radio – in our house, it’s DEVO, CAKE, ZAPPA, ENO, The DICKIES (and a gazillion other bands) all the way! When he started singing some country music that was playing on his racing/NASCAR video games, I cringed… that will be his rebellion…listening to country music…. and once they turn 8, any control you thought you had over music is GONE… I have to think “it’s not what music you listen to; it’s that you listen to music” …

    I think you were probably pretty cool prior to Pandora! Enjoy the NOW – you’ll have plenty of time for romantic dates once Cee realizes that she can spend the night elsewhere :)

    1. The fact that he’s rebelling with country music is really hilarious. Make sure you don’t react to it and then maybe he’ll drop it sooner. I know that the reason I loved The Doors when I was a kid was because my mom had voiced her disapproval. She was more of a Carpenters lady :/ Yes, this is my genetic makeup!

      1. Too late – I went AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! He’s got my number, lady.

        We are all about music in the house – when he was little he’d sing “Dames, Booze, Chains & Boots” (The Cramps) and various DEVO songs at preschool..

  9. It took me until I was 15 to ever see the ending of A Christmas Story. After reading this I think someone may have been changing the channel. It didn’t do too much damage so your baby should be fine. Nobody really cares how an amemendment comes to be.

    1. The ending to A Christmas Story is probably the best part of the whole thing, so when you finally got to see it, it must have been a really great moment. Farararara rararara.

  10. Doodle has been a CONSTANT reminder to me that I have absolutely no control over anything I thought I did. It’s hard to learn, but when I did get with the program and just let *most* things run their course, oh my goodness it’s just so much less stressful isn’t it?! :)

    1. It makes things SO much better when you stop stressing over the minutiae that has no bearing on reality!

  11. What a great idea to make her Pandora stations! I am totally making a Schoolhouse Rock one, even though I don’t have any kids:)

    1. You don’t need them to enjoy that station! It’s really fun!

  12. “Thirty years from now, she may not remember the third verse to “The Wheels On the Bus”, but she will know that her father adores her and has been doing so ever since she was a baby.”—Exactly!

    My boys don’t remember the things I did with them as toddlers (good things and mistakes ;) ), but at least they know I love them, and that they always come first in my book–in a good way–they’re not spoiled. :)

    1. Whenever I am glum, my mom always reminds me that I don’t remember the times I cried endlessly because I was teething or because she had to move me away from the dishwasher, which I always wanted to play in. It’s a really good reminder to take their tears with a grain of salt :)

  13. I thought this was going to be about Pandora beads. :) I still remember lots of songs that were on the radio when I was very young, and remember hearing them lots. I wonder if you always remember your first “favourite songs”. You might want to make sure she listens to some cool stuff too, which I think it sounds like you’re already doing! :)

    1. I think we can be emotionally tied to music we loved as kids. Listening to the kids radio with C, often songs come up that I have not heard since I was a wee one myself and I have a really strong, positive reaction to them. They were just hiding in the back of my brain!

  14. Just make sure you teach her not to flip shows all the time.
    And make sure she’s listening to good music!

    1. Don’t worry! We don’t even have cable so we only watch like an hour of TV each day anyway.

  15. Emily, I really enjoy reading your blog. I’m not articulate enough to describe why, but know that I think you’re a great writer and an even better mother.

    C is lucky to have you.

    Oh, and Pandora is pretty awesome.

    1. Awwww, thanks, TD! Pandora is the best. Even though they sneak in Gangnam Style on all the Korean music stations :/

      1. Ew… I’ve had enough of that song.

        1. Me too. I regret ever playing it for C.

          1. Lol. I’ve never voluntarily listened to it.

            1. You have very good taste.

  16. Can I hire you *now* to give me pep talks at 2am in a few years??

    1. Ha! I think the time difference would only make it 11PM here so that is for sure doable.

      1. Excellent.
        And your agreement is in writing, so consider this a legally binding contract.

      2. Oh yeah, so I was thinking about this while pooping just now, and you’re 2 or 3 hours ahead of me in time, so if I called you at 2am my time, it would be 4 or 5am your time.
        Just thought I would clarify our written contract. ;)

  17. Great post. I love that line about controlling your perspective.
    I shared this with my FB parenting group :)

    1. Thanks for sharing, Kylie! You make me feel all important and wise. Which, BTW, I’m totally not ;)

      1. We all have our wise moments!

  18. It’s so easy to judge those mommies before you become one. Then you learn the sad realities of life. And then, THEN, you have a teenager and you realize that not only are you as awful as all those other mommies, you have no control over anything anymore. Teenagers! Bah!

    1. That’s what I keep hearing about the teenage years! It is for sure a difficult time that I will readily admit I’m not looking forward to. The idea of me parenting a strong-willed teenager is laughable.

  19. bellissimom · · Reply

    I now tell all my friends who do not yet have children to resist making parenting declarations because you will invariably eat those words. (“We will never use a pacifier” was my horribly wrong deceleration). Letting go of all sense of control when you are a control freak is incredibly hard but I think it makes us stronger and at the same time softer if that makes any sense.

    1. That makes TOTAL sense. Realizing that we never had a lot of control in the first place and reconciling that with things we are indeed able to do to give them a wonderful life is what parenting is all about.

  20. You’re a great mom, Emily.
    And that’s all I have to say about that….

    1. Takes one to know one :)

        1. Ha. I mean a parent. Last I checked you weren’t a mom.

  21. “Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid.” -Harlan Miller

    I repeat this to myself in my head before I open my mouth about my husband’s big head blocking the TV, for instance.

  22. You had me at the first sentence! So many things you don’t know until you are a parent and then laugh about (in a good moment) when you realize how wrong, wrong, wrong your naive perspective was.
    This was a great post; you are such a great Mom!

  23. I took your advice and created this station. Holy crap, it’s so fun! Thanks for the suggestion. :)

  24. I want to thank you for the Pandora radio station idea! I made a Schoolhouse Rock station over the weekend, and The Boy loves it! We usually listen to classic R&B and soul, but when I turned on this station, he responded to it immediately, and he started dancing. It was freakin’ adorable!

  25. southernfriedinvegas · · Reply

    A Schoolhouse Rock Station?! I’m doing that tomorrow! We frequently listen to the Children’s Indie Radio, mostly because it’s only about 10% children’s music…and because the kids look at me funny when I belt out all the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast songs from Toddler Radio.

  26. Oh gosh, I hear you on this! Heck, I won’t turn off the car until a song is done!

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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