Because Sometimes We Need a Song to Remind Us of What’s True

May 8, 2012

jumping Lily

This is a familiar story (though I’ve never told it before). I’m sure you have your own version. It’s a story about how one song comes to represent something big: young love, say, or new parenthood, or that one particular summer when the weather just couldn’t be believed.

It actually was summer, and, yes, the weather couldn’t be believed. The coolest Chicago summer in a decade. I’ve never liked hot weather, but I was heavily pregnant and extra grateful for lake breezes.

I’d emerged from the long, dark tunnel of infertility. I’d survived the euphoria and illness of the first trimester. I was cocooned in the mellow hormones of the third trimester.

I’m sure it wasn’t all mellow dreaminess, but that’s how I remember it. The worst was behind. The earthquake that is a first baby was still to come. My husband and I took long walks. Went for long drives. Ate out in all our favorite restaurants.

That summer we could hardly turn on the car radio without hearing the song “Yellow” by Coldplay. Perhaps it only happened once, but when I think of that summer this is what I remember: a nighttime drive down the length of Chicago’s lakefront, overhead the city lights like glittery stars, windows rolled down, a baby girl filling me up, and “Yellow” playing on the radio.

That song and my firstborn: they’ve been tangled up in my mind ever since.

Which is a good thing.

Now when I hear that song, I’m taken right back to a place and a feeling it’s important never to forget. I hear the song, and I remember all of the joy and love and hope that a mother feels when her baby is tucked up inside, still unknown.

It can be difficult (often impossible) to hold on to those feelings through sleepless nights, temper tantrums, sibling fights, meltdowns over homework … well, all the ordinary awfulness of day to day life.

And my own mother-failures are the most awful of all.

But the ordinary awfulness is a distraction. It’s not the real thing. It doesn’t tell us who we really are. It tries to obscure the truth of who our child is.

More and more, I’m convinced that good parenting is learning to coast through the awfulness without losing my grip on the truth.

And the truth is this: life is magical, motherhood is an indescribably good gift, and my child (yours too) is more precious and beautiful than even the nighttime sky.

That is the truth, and this song helps me remember.

Just in time for Mother’s Day: a gorgeous cover of “Yellow” by Renee and Jeremy:


  1. lisa ulrich

    aw, beautiful! great rendition of “Yellow” too

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you like it. I think the album comes out very soon.

  2. Sharon Mims

    Oh, my goodness, that song left me in tears as I reflect on my youngest as she moves through one milestone of her life, that of home education, and into the next. Thanks for sharing.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Sharon, I tear up each time I listen, and I’m not facing the mother/daughter milestone that you are!

  3. Danielle Diehl

    “More and more, I’m convinced that good parenting is learning to coast through the awfulness without losing my grip on the truth.” Oh, Christie, I needed those words tonight. And lately. I think our first borns have so much in common! It’s hard for me to remain hopeful for joy (for me) and hope and joy and success (for him). Your writing is the perfect combination of dirt and stars.

    • Christie Purifoy

      “… the perfect combination of dirt and stars.” Danielle, you made my day with those words.

  4. Susan

    “The ordinary awfulness” is exactly right. How much of that there is in parenting. It sure brings out parts of me I’d not known before, and they’re not the pretty parts. Good to be reminded of those great truths tonight. Happy mother’s day, Christie.

  5. Kelli

    oh my- LOVE the song.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Sister! See you soon!

  6. Caitlin

    I remember about that time I told you I just borrowed books from the library ’cause if I had $15 I could buy a CD and you laughed at me and said you never buy CDs because you always think “with that $15 I could buy a book!”



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