Thank you, Jann Arden.
Before anything else, I should say that. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Jann Arden on Sunday night, and the performance was wonderful - she's such an amazingly engaging lady, and her discourse with the audience was freaking brilliant. So. Much. Fun. (And her little dog, too!)
I've always loved "Good Mother" - if pressed, I know I'd pop that in my top ten of Jann Arden songs - and I've always found my own enjoyment of said song as a bit amusing. I fell in love with that song in the nineties (along with everyone else) and that was a pretty much a point in my life that was... well... opposite to pretty much everything in the lyrics. Those were the years I'd come out.
House? Nope. Car? Nope. Good mother? Good father? Well, there was that whole disowning because of that whole gay thing. Money in my pocket? Egad, no.
But then those beautiful words - in that beautiful voice - "Feet on ground / Heart in hand / Facing forward / Just be yourself / I've never wanted anything / No I've, No I've, I've never wanted anything so bad."
Perfect. I wanted to be myself. There I was, on the edge of having done so, and it hadn't gone remotely as planned. And yet, it was so worth it. Back then, as I've mentioned in other blog entries I'm sure, I wasn't entirely sure things were going to work out. Still, given that the bridges were burning, I didn't have many options other than going forward.
I must have played that CD so many times. I'm sure I drove my various roommates nuts with it. I had quite a few songs that were my "go-to" for getting through bad days. Dar Williams, the Indigo Girls, Jann Arden. It occurs to me that I probably should have come out as a lesbian, in order to make my music tastes make more sense. At any rate, at the same point in "Good Mother" I took a deep breath and tried very hard to remind myself that all of this was worth it. Every time.
Whenever I've heard the song in more recent years, it's with a wonderful sense of nostalgia. I smile. I remembered myself shoring up my own mental reserves. I think back to a period in my life where I proved to myself I could indeed do it on my own. And I wanted to. Since then, I also managed to find a wonderful man (after a few attempts) and got married when it became legal to do so. I won't retell - again - the story of my father-in-law's amazing wedding speech (but I will point out you can go re-read it here.) But that moment when he raised his glass was one of the most important and wonderful things that ever happened to me.
Fast-forward to Sunday night, and I had a completely different realization listening to Jann Arden sing that wonderful song. My life has completely changed. Completely.
Money in my pocket? Check. The color of my hair? What's left of it, sure. A friend who loves me? My husband is exactly that. We have a house, and a car. And you know what else I've got? A good mother. And a good father. My in-laws. It turns out I just had to wait a while. And while I knew that, listening to the song was a visceral moment of getting it.
In a crowd at the N.A.C., I had me a wee cry in the audience while Jann Arden sang that song. I was just so damned grateful for everything. It's a lovely feeling to have. I intend to repay it by selling out of her latest book as often as I can.
(Which, by the way, is also amazing and wonderful and you should read it.)