American singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile has struck a chord with mothers everywhere with her latest song, titled simply: “The Mother”. In anticipation of her forthcoming album, By The Way, I Forgive You, Carlile recently posted a live version of the song on YouTube and her Facebook page.
The song is a love story to her daughter, Evangeline; but it’s also a raw and honest view of parenthood, told from the deepest and warmest places of a mother’s heart.
In it, Carlile sings:
The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep / She filled my life with color, canceled plans, and trashed my car / but none of that was ever who we are.
She references holding her sleeping baby while longing to emulate friends who are accomplishing dreams. These friends still have their morning paper, time, and evenings … and, wow, do parents miss those things. But as Carlile sings to her daughter, who she calls “nothing short of magical,” she also reminds herself and all parents that we get to relive life’s most amazing things through our children’s eyes.
Weepy fans have been commenting with shared sentiment since Carlile first posted the video on her official Facebook page last week:
“I wasn’t ready for tears to start flowing, it caught me off guard,” wrote one user. “Those words! All so true. Thank you for sharing this with us. Beautiful reminder.”
“Don’t mind me … I’m the lady standing in the airport, missing my little love, and ugly crying,” wrote another. “Thank you for putting a beautiful song and a beautiful little human in the world.”
“So beautiful and full of truth,” one chimed in. “Thank you for capturing all the feels in this one.”
Parenting is and will be my greatest accomplishment. And yet, the dichotomy of motherhood continues to catch me off guard, too. Sometimes I look at my children and love them so much it physically hurts. Then there times when my children drain all of the energy and patience from body to the point of not knowing who I am anymore. I can’t even love myself in those moments, and in the middle of pieces I don’t like, I still love being the mother of my three kids.
As Carlile sings “The Mother” from start to finish in one take, her daughter sits at her feet. Evangeline sometimes mouths the lyrics while her mama sings to her with so much cuteness it stings. I felt every word of Carlile’s newest song, but there was one particular verse that moved me to understand her words with a force that not all mothers experience.
Somehow, Carlile gets through the entire song without pause, but pointedly says this to her baby girl:
You are not an accident, where no one thought it through / The world has fought against us, made us, me fight for you / And when we chose your name, we knew that you’d fight the power too.
In those few brief lines, Carlile is subtly referencing the fact that she is gay, and that not only is she the mother to Evangeline, but also the wife of Catherine Shepard. The two were married in 2012, and Catherine gave birth to their daughter in 2014. When Carlile and Shepard filled out the paperwork to obtain their marriage license in Massachusetts, Carlile even told the Associated Press, “I felt like I was breaking a law, like somebody was going to come in and say, ‘You know you can’t have this!’ It was so exciting.”
And now that she and her wife are mothers, the world still finds ways to make it feel like their love is against the rules.
As a queer mama who’s married to a woman myself, I know those feelings, too. It took a lot of planning and forethought to create our family. My partner carried all three of our kids, and while I am not biologically connected to any of them, they are as much a part of me as if I birthed them myself.
A parent’s love is no less or greater than because of gender identity or sexuality. Yet too many people still think same-sex marriage, gay parenting, and transgender parents are not deserving of respect and equal rights.
So we fight. We love. We get married. We raise children. And we sing.
Thank you, Brandi Carlile, for capturing the essence of what it means to be a mother. And thank you for showing the world that love is love and the only title that matters is the one given to us by our children.