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I used to be such a great
mom. I stand in awe of my former self.

My young kids were always in bed by 7:30 p.m. because I
knew how important it is for developing brains to get a
sufficient amount of sleep. They only watched G-rated
movies, also on account of developing brains. And they
definitely, definitely listened exclusively to brain-
boosting music. Mostly classical and kids, but
occasionally ’80s when nostalgia set in.

Wow was I good.

Things have changed since then — quite radically,
I’m afraid. My former self would be dismayed with
the shenanigans that go on at my house these days.

I find myself reading bedtime stories at 9:30 p.m. on
school nights to my young kids. When my husband is
unavailable, I sometimes have to be at an event with an
older kid until then. Such bedtimes would have been
unthinkable to my former self.

Out of the dozens of movies shown on the car’s
DVD system during our most recent 22-hour road trip, not
one of them was rated G (just to clarify, none of them
were rated R either). Squeaky wheels simply get more
grease at times. My former self would have been indignant,
insisting that I give each child equal consideration and
think of developing brains for gosh sakes.

I actually thought it was pretty sweet that I got to
listen to “Napoleon Dynamite” twice on that

I knew my younger children’s tastes in music were
being shaped by their teenage siblings, but what I
didn’t realize is how far the pendulum had swung.
One day, I was in the car with only one kid in tow when I
heard a loud voice, totally on key and in tempo, belting

“Hey soul sister
Ain’t that mister mister
On the radio, stereo
The way you move ain’t fair you know
Hey soul sister
I don’t wanna miss
A single thing you do

I looked around to make sure that I didn’t have any
surprise stowaways. Nope. Just the one. My youngest, age

A few days later, I heard the same voice singing these
stirring words:

“I wanna be a billionaire
So freakin’ bad
Buy all of the things I never had …”

Perhaps things had gone too far.

“Hey,” I said the next day when all five kids
were in the car, “let’s help your younger
brother learn a kid song!”

Blank stares.

“Come on, don’t you remember all those songs
we used to sing all the time?”

The next several seconds were silent as we (including me,
to be completely honest) tried to think of such a song. We
finally hit upon “Wheels on the Bus,” managing
to remember more than one verse. My son eventually caught
on and sang the last few chords, “… all
through the town!”

My 4-year-old officially knew one kid song. Not much to
brag about, but it’s something.

Four days later, he ran through the house, singing at the
top of his lungs:

“Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down
Do-ow-ow-ow-n, Do-ow-ow-ow-n
Even if the sky is falling down
Do-ow-ow-ow-n, Do-ow-ow-ow-n”

I’m as concerned as I ever was about my kids’
developing brains. Every year, though, I understand just a
little more that the parameters, requirements and demands
of being a good mom are constantly shifting and changing
— right along with my kids. This would have been
virtually impossible for me to truly understand back in
the days when all my kids were snugly tucked into bed by
7:30 p.m.

I guess “Wheels on the Bus” didn’t take.

And I’m so OK with that.