Parenting in the Quiet

The other day my younger brother gave me a CD. He knows me and the CD was a reflection of the kind of music I like.  But as I listened to it, it reminded me of someone else too – my dad.

I have vivid memories of music in my house growing up. It punctuated specific moments in my life and even now, songs take me back to moments that feel as fresh as if I were watching a movie.

I don’t recall my father ever sitting down and talking to me about music, but he was always playing it.

I remember milk-crated record collections and new shelving built to hold the whittled down collection when CDs came along. I remember huge speakers standing in corners and new super sleek ones as time went on.

My dad loves music. Jazz is a favourite but calypso, reggae and Rhythm and Blues rolled through our house too.

As I grew up other musical genres broke in.

random music sampling

My eclectic musical tastes: Pavarotti - Prince

My older brother’s fascination with all things rock and roll introduced me to Led Zeppelin and ACDC, and college radio via CKLN.

My mom is more of an easy listening girl and I remember radio dial wars in her car where I’d try to sneak the station to CFTR and she’d put it firmly back on CHFI.

As other people began to influence my life, hip hop and rap music began to filter into the mix.  Music that seemingly bore no resemblance to my father’s would have him bopping his head in the car anyway. He never judged. Never called it garbage (even when, in retrospect, some of it really was), never told us to turn it down.

I’m telling you this because when I popped the CD into my computer and out pored sweet jazz vocalizations from Esperanza Spalding, the infectious hip hop of Erykah Baduh and the eclectic music of 4Hero, I easily nestled it into my music collection between Nicki Minaj and Kanye West. And it was a reminder.

We never know what it is about our lives that will survive in our children. And sometimes the biggest effect we may be having is in the quiet.

I’m three months away from a trip that has been in the works for 10 years and as it approaches I’m finally getting bogged down in the details. What seemed so simple a few months ago is becoming more and more complicated. This trip needs to be perfect. It needs to teach my kids everything I want them to learn and expose them to all I want to show them.

And yet it doesn’t, and it won’t.

I’m sure my father sat down and told me lessons about life that he felt were important and there are some that I will always treasure others (sorry Dad) I may have already forgotten.

And likewise, as parents of this next generation, our lectures and attempts to help them be their best will sometimes fall on deaf ears.

But I’m taking some solace in the fact that there are lessons he may have taught me through his actions and reactions to things that he hadn’t thought to teach me at all . Lessons that were important and that stuck –

Like how to love your family

and how to treat your friends

and how to do the funky chicken.

Are there things your parents have taught you “in the quiet?” Are there things you’ve realized you’re teaching your kids?

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{ 8 comments… add one }

Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments March 8, 2011, 7:46 PM

I love this post Heather. It actually made my eyes tear. I can feel how thankful you are to have had your quiet moments with your parents and I know your children will have quiet moments all over the world and will remember them and thank you for them always.

You are an amazing woman to be so brave and an amazing mother to give your children this opportunity.

I can only hope that one day, though the moments will be different, my children will remember what we shared and what we learned together in the quiet.


Heather Greenwood Davis March 9, 2011, 6:50 PM

Sorry about the tears! Your comments are kind but I’m not really. Just trying to figure this whole thing out and having rare moments of (what feels like) clarity. Grateful to have a space to figure some of it out and glad that it’s affected a few people in a positive way.


Corinne @ HaveBabyWillTravel March 8, 2011, 9:25 PM

Ask him what he thought were the most important things to teach you. And the things that he hoped you would remember (even if you didn’t).

As I get older, I have more and more questions for my mother. And it’s that much harder to not have her here to answer them.

I’d love to ask her what it was really like taking off with her girlfriends to Italy at 16, or moving all the way to Canada by herself at 19. I know I have her to thank for my adventurous spirit, but it sucks not having her here to fill in the blanks.

I loved travelling with my mom, and when I got a bit older I thought it sucked. But looking back it’s not the specific things we saw or did that stuck, it’s moments like you describe – the quiet.

Can’t wait to hear more about your plans.


Heather Greenwood Davis March 9, 2011, 6:43 PM

It’s a good point Corinne…and a reminder. Life is short (and sometimes shorter than we think) and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have those questions go unanswered. I appreciate your thoughts on this. I’ve been putting off some interviews with older relatives for a long time. Think it’s time to follow through.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience here.


Jo-Anne Wallace March 9, 2011, 12:11 AM

This post made me smile. My Dad always has music on which is something I do as well. Music fills the heart….


Heather Greenwood Davis March 9, 2011, 6:27 PM



Anonymous March 9, 2011, 1:12 PM

Beautiful post Heather. Made me a little misty and a little nostalgic. I love all genres of music because of my parents. It was always playing in our house too.


Heather Greenwood Davis March 9, 2011, 6:26 PM



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