It’s funny how life seems to play itself out like a radio when you hit the scan button: snippets of harmony, moments of discord—but mostly just cover versions of today, different players, different moods.

If I had to choose a soundtrack for my current mom existence, it would be full of country. Which surprises me—the former classical music, anti-everything-else nerd.

Not that I liked only classical. During my college years, with a compulsion to ensure complete, well-rounded musician-ness, I dabbled in nearly every genre. However, country was just one of those forms that didn’t jive with me in the same way as the ingenious design of baroque, danceability of swing, or sultry lyricism of Norah Jones. I really did try to like it, but all those predictable melodic phrases, and lyrics about lonely eyes and sexy tractors—well, I just couldn’t relate.

A decade later, I call myself Mom to two busy toddlers and have bid adieu to the hours of meditative solitude and days that used to unfold like the structured highs and lows of a symphony. My daily rhythms now keep pace with the limitless energy of my two-year-old and the bowel movements and milk cries of my eleven-month-old. I deal with broken little hearts on a regular basis and am finally realizing that the likes of Faith Hill and Rascal Flatts had it right.

Nights are typically wakeful, and a particular line from Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” often waltzes its way into my head. As I flop onto the beanbag at 1 AM to breastfeed, the words seem the perfect accompaniment for shadows and sounds of my suckling son: “It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now…” (the “you”, of course, referring to sleep rather than an absent lover). 

The sleep-depriving hours modulate into tired mornings with the arrival of dawn and my little girl climbing sleepily into bed beside me. We snuggle for a bit and go about our morning routine harmoniously until I say no to something. Like the other day: “No, no more juice; you’ve had enough for now.” Cue the tears. As she sobs and carries on, I brush aside her woeful air and sing one of my own: “Wrong, baby, wrong, baby wrong, it ain’t the end of the world…” [Amen, Sister Martina.]

A few more meltdowns, a hopefully successful dinner, and several dance parties later, I find myself utterly spent and grateful for the day’s final cadence. 

I nurse my baby boy, thankful for the peaceful interlude. His eyes eventually flutter to a close. One down, one to go. 

My daughter reluctantly cocoons herself under the covers and we say prayers, sing a few lullabies. She tosses and turns, simultaneously reciting all her newly learned words. I request again that she please lie still and close eyes.

While lingering at the bed’s edge waiting for her to succumb to slumber and dwelling on all the toys scattered around the house, crumbs under the table, and laundry left undone—wishing the energizer bunny daughter of mine came with an “off” switch and would just go to sleep—it happens: the perfect country music moment, when that one-in-the-same daughter leans in and plants a soft smooch on my forehead before finally drifting off to dreamland. 

Though “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is the day’s usual closing motif as I settle in for yet another sleepless night, this one ends on a more heartening note. Gently touching where my daughter’s lips left their parting gift, I tip-toe from her room singing in a whisper, “This kiss, this kiss!”

Leann Clarke

Leann Clarke is an outdoor-loving mama who enjoys riding horses, dancing, soaking in a good book, and hunting with her husband. She’s also mom to two active kiddos who excel at keeping her humble. She believes strongly in prayer, laughter, and eating chocolate for breakfast. Leann shares snippets of her life in Montana and more on her blog, The Hunting Mom.