Here it is, release week for my new novel, More Than a Rancher! And I’d planned to write something light and fluffy – how grateful and happy I am to have my second book coming out. And I AM grateful and happy. Definitely!
But I was looking for some new music today, because I love music, and I found a video of Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks covering the Pink Floyd song Mother. I remember listening to the Pink Floyd version of this song a lot in high school, and back then it made me feel rebellious and wronged.
But to hear Natalie Maines – a mother, a woman – sing it gives it a whole different meaning. Just by who she is, she shifts the perspective of the song from wronged youth to panicked parent, and she captures a huge parenting dilemma. We have so much love for our kids and so much fear that they’ll get hurt. Somehow we have to figure out when to let go of our fears, back off and let them grow. If we never do that, we’ll damage them.
Here are some of the words from the song that are haunting me.
“Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing
She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm…”
And this dilemma, the danger of trying to protect someone too much, is one of the themes in my new book, More than a Rancher. Both the hero, Sandro, and the heroine, Jenna, have parents who criticize and oppose their life choices. It’s a pivotal issue for both characters, something that has influenced their lives considerably, something they have to overcome. To complicate matters, Sandro takes on much of the parenting of his younger brother, Paul. And he’s having a terrible time letting Paul take risks, and spread his wings, because he’s so scared his brother will be hurt.
There’s a moment in the book when Jenna realizes that much of their parents’ disapproval comes from their fear. She’s talking to Barbara, Sandro and Paul’s mother, trying to convince her to let Paul study dance. Barbara finally explains why she and her husband are opposed to their son’s dancing. And as Jenna starts to understand things more from Barbara’s perspective, she has a revelation about her own family as well.
“I’m not a parent, so I don’t know what it’s like to have your kids grow up and become their own people. I imagine it’s a challenge.” Jenna thought about her own parents from that angle all of a sudden. What was it like for two such conservative people to have a daughter who only wanted to dance?
“It’s the best and hardest thing you’ll ever do.” Barbara smiled faintly. “I don’t think a minute goes by when I’m not worrying about one of my boys or another…”
So as a parent of a child, and of this new book, I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue. How do we keep our kids safe, but still let them explore the world and become their own people?
I don’t really have an answer. I know I’m going to try to walk a reasonable path – looking for the sweet spot where I can keep my son safe and still let him grow into who he’s meant to be.
Here’s a video of Natalie Maines singing Mother, so you can be haunted by it too! Enjoy!