My oldest is ten years old, officially a “tween,” as she’s informed me. I suppose this means a lot of things, but one of the most fun is that as her mom, I have a legitimate reason to listen to pop music. Unironically. Because that’s what she likes, so that’s what we listen to, along with showtunes and worship songs, country music and what has somehow become “oldies.” I’m listening to the music with her and because of her, and that’s a parenting perk I’m happy to receive.
One of my daughter’s favorite artists for a while now is Shawn Mendes, and she — fine, I — was excited to hear a new song from him recently. As I caught some of the lyrics coming out of our car’s speakers, I was relieved we were pulling into our garage. While I might be able to convince myself I’m a cool mom who listens to cool music, all street cred flies out the window when I begin openly weeping at lines written by 19-year-old pop stars.
A few days later, I heard the entire song alone in the car, and sure enough, I teared up. Amidst cries for help and descriptions of anxiety or depression or some other unnamed but relateable struggle, the singer repeats these words:
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
The tears that lined my face weren’t the result of sadness for the pop star on my radio. I cried because I feel that truth in my own life, in my own family. Every single one of us — on every side, on every branch — struggles with something or some things. And yet we don’t give up. We fight. We keep going. Not always immediately or well or happily, but giving up isn’t in my blood.
I thought about that as I nodded my head to the song, tapping my steering wheel for emphasis. Yes! I’m strong! That’s who I am! I thought proudly.
…but the truth is…giving up actually is in my blood.