Do What Thao Does

How many times in the course of your adult life have you felt incapable of the job before you, yet certain you had no way to wriggle out of it? Freelancing routinely puts me in this position, but middle age in general seems to be about “have to” not “want to.” And so much of the “have to” seems too hard or scary. You feel like such a badass after you conquer those first few sleepless years of parenthood, only to realize that was the easy part.
 
Truly being a grown-up seems to be about owning the decision-making status even if you don’t feel a rightful claim to it. It can be something as simple as what the headline should be on the website of the latest credit card offering (my freelance work), or deciding the best way to shepherd my mother through the final stages of dementia (my life). Somewhere in the middle is everything else—bossing around my children, how to pay the bills, what we should tell the kids about police brutality against young black men. What the hell do I know, I say to the universe. I am not capable of all this. I can’t do it.
 
A young singer named Thao gave me the motivating lyric for times like these: “You gotta push all that doubt to the side of your mouth.”

It’s in a song called Swimming Pools and I don’t really know what exactly she’s singing about, but this lyric reached me. Sometimes, you have to just push that doubt to the side of your mouth and dive in. Another line in the song:  "We brave bee stings and all, and we dont dive we cannonball." Fuck yea!
 
As far as I can tell, a big part of motherhood and grownup-hood in general seems to be ‘faking it’—exhibiting a sense of knowing authority so the people around you feel secure. Unless you’re a NASA scientist or a brain surgeon “faking it” is just the way it goes until you get good at it, I think. You just push that doubt to the side of your mouth where no one can see it.
 
I remember when we were moving to New Jersey and my boys were 4 and 2. I was in a near constant state of panic over selling the house, packing to go, uprooting the boy, leaving my friends, where we would land, etc. Dexter’s nursery school teacher gently told me, basically, to “Snap out of it!” (Cher, Moonstruck, best line ever.) Miss Karen didn’t slap me, but rather sweetly reminded me to exude calm even if I didn’t necessarily feel it, since – and here, she pointed at the boys with her chin, “You’re the captain of this ship.” Not that I wanted that title, but it’s true. I am the captain of their ship.

Thao is a Virginia girl from a Cambodian family and her music is infectious and simultaneously punky rough and dancey pop. It’s filled with Taylor Swifty lines of empowerment, but with more off-kilter honesty and less glossy roundness.
 
For an extra dose of her charm, watch her tiny desk concert .