This column ran on Feb. 15, 2017.
I get slap-happy after 10 p.m. It wasn’t always that way, of course. A decade ago, I thought nothing of attending college classes until mid-afternoon, coming back to Waldorf for a bookstore shift and getting home around midnight — just in time to study a bit (after a late Lean Cuisine dinner). It wasn’t weird for me to get to bed around 1 a.m., rising a few hours later to do it all again.
That makes me laugh now, of course. As a 31-year-old with a toddler about to return to the delirious newborn life, I can only remember that boundless energy fondly. I have no desire to stay up until the wee hours, but I would definitely settle for not passing out open-mouthed during primetime TV.
It’s the little things, you know? My husband went out with friends Saturday, getting home “late” (about 8:30 p.m.). I handled the bedtime routine with Oliver, breathing a sigh of relief when he didn’t fight me to go upstairs. The steps have become a game to him: we let Ollie climb up with a parent close behind, and the thrill of ascending each stair is like a winning lottery ticket to our young son. He doesn’t fight us to go to bed . . . because stairs are involved. Guess that’s a parenting win?
Once Ollie was settled, I changed into pajamas and considered going to sleep myself. With six weeks until my due date with baby No. 2 [now a 1-year-old], I know we’re on borrowed time — and any time spent sleeping is an investment in my sanity. But I’m always torn by that persistent desire to “do something” once I actually have a minute to myself. Lately, that’s meant catching up on bad reality TV or, in a rare burst of enthusiasm, organizing baby girl’s room and clothes. But, you know. Mostly TV. When Spencer returned on Saturday, I was miraculously lucid. I wanted to hear about the event he attended and devote some attention to the words actually coming out of his mouth. Like many folks (especially in long-term relationships?), I can be guilty of asking questions without always listening to the responses. While Spence is patient with me, pregnant Megan — or Preg Meg, as I’m known these days — doesn’t always extend the same courtesy.
But Saturday? We talked. Really talked — for at least an hour — about the day’s adventures. I’d managed to take Oliver over to my sister’s place (mostly) independently, and Ollie had enjoyed himself playing with a friend’s young kids. It’s hard not to feel like a helicopter parent when my son is around other children — a rarity for him. He hangs out with his daycare buddies, of course, but I’m not there to see it.
Spencer listened to my ran- dom thoughts and observations, then volunteered the stories of his own afternoon and dinner out. “Look at us,” I thought, “having a full-blown, coherent conversation. At night, no less.”
The TV hummed softly while we talked, eventually clicking over to a murder-mystery playing in the background. I flipped the channel only to stumble upon an infommercial advertising a music compilation of “best of” hits. This particular one — Time Life’s “Rock & Romance” — promised a collection “filled with rock’s most memorable ballads and best love and relationship songs of the ’70s and ’80s that take you back to those special times in your life.” Suddenly, I was captivated. It was late. High off the euphoria of still being awake, Spencer and I were both sucked into this 30-minute segment playing snippets of tunes we know mostly as the soundtrack to our parents’ youth.
I grew up on those songs, too. They did take me back. My parents came of age in the ’70s and married in 1980, welcoming me five years later and my sister three years after that. By the time Katie and I were old enough to appreciate music, my mom and dad had raised us on a steady diet of Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Journey, Chicago, Foreigner and Peter Frampton, among others.
I might not have awkward high school prom memories attached to “Separate Ways” or “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” but I have distinct recollections of running around the living room like a nut with my sister with those songs blasting. We would twirl until we collapsed with my parents’ stereo cranked up and the house windows open.
The ’80s-era fashions in the videos accompanying “Rock and Romance” were the icing on my Memory Lane cake. I instantly recognized hairstyles that Mom and Dad had favored and smiled at the huge glasses that were so popular back in the day. Any of those folks could have been my 30-something parents — the parents I remember from childhood. That was bittersweet.
Sometimes I think about how Oliver and his sister will interact with music as they grow up. Stereo equipment, record albums and CDs have been replaced with iPods, smartphones and a digital media library with earbuds and Bluetooth speakers. I’m so out of touch with that mu- sical world, I barely recognized the names and faces at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. (Except Adele, obviously. And Beyoncé. Because: c’mon.)
We don’t listen to songs much at home, save the odd televised concert that Spencer leaves on for the joy of seeing Oliver spastically toddler-dance. But I can’t imagine raising my son and daughter entirely without music. Am I already too far gone?
Hard to say. Though for a mere $135, I could bring the whole “Rock and Romance” set into our household. Maybe it was the slap-happy 10 p.m. clicking around on my smartphone, but I was briefly tempted. I’ll blame it on being conscious after sunset.
We should start smaller, though — like with the radio.
Spastic toddler-dancing for everyone.