Look out; here comes yet another feeble letter from an adoring fan, this time a mother of four small boys. I’m sure you get these all the time. The funny thing about a relationship like yours and mine is that you have no idea who I am, and yet my heart feels like you know it well. The only time I have seen you in person was in a giant arena last November, and there were thousands of excited faces between yours and mine.
My son and I received tickets to the concert for Christmas the year before, a successful attempt by my husband to cheer me up after a miscarriage had me in the trenches. The months between Christmas and your concert had been good to me though, and I had a four-week-old son waiting with family in the hotel room the night that I finally got to see you. My boys and I each have relationships with your music, as all three of your albums seem to have become a small piece of our family.
I remember the day I first fell in love with your music. I had a 20-month-old toddler and a newborn that had dietary issues, and it had been a day–my hardest day of motherhood yet. By the time my husband arrived home from work, I was desperate for a break from wee ones, so he promptly took them both outside to shoot some hoops and get some fresh air. Tired from holding a baby all day, I flapped my arms Michael-Phelps style and reveled in my free personal space. Dinner still needed to be cooked, but I didn’t mind making it as long as I could make it alone! I popped the top off a hard cider, pulled up your album 21, and began making taco salad. I’d seen you sweep the Grammys a few nights before so I purchased 21, but this was my first chance to listen to it.
You had me, Adele, hook, line, and sinker, within the first three songs. I was an exhausted woman, dancing in her kitchen with a bottle in one hand and a spatula in the other, listening to another singing woman who would become a friend for life.
My newborn son George fell for you shortly after I did. A few days later I was nursing him and I pulled out my phone to watch your 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper. When you began singing Someone Like You, George immediately stopped suckling (unheard of!) and craned his neck in the direction of the phone. The look on his face was a mixture of shock and bliss. Thus began George’s reliable and hilarious love relationship with your voice.
He always knew you instantly, and you ALWAYS calmed him. The boy was an angry ball of stomach distress for many months, and he has really always been one of those cranky old souls anyway, but your voice was a foolproof remedy to any tears he mustered. I summoned 19 and 21 in the car, on airplanes, his nursery, restaurants, grocery stores, and even public bathrooms in the year to come. I just know that someday George will be the cantankerous old man on the block who wears his pants up to his nipples, goes outside to bark at the children about staying off his lawn, and then retreats inside to his trusty record player and his treasured Adele albums.
In the photo below, George had been in tears in his car seat minutes before; he is pictured happily chewing on my phone, which was playing Rolling in the Deep. Instant turnaround!
Adele, I owe you a debt of gratitude for your vulnerability. You have shared your real pain, which has given voice to my real pain, and it has made me feel understood. In private moments when my grief seemed silly, or insurmountable, or unlabeled, you sang to me your own experiences. Sometimes just knowing that another woman knew grief and created something beautiful from it gave me the courage to wrestle with my own bad moments, days, and months to find beauty in them as well.
When my close friend’s two-year-old son died, I meditated on your voice singing about the “heaviness in my head” and miserably mused at “who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?”
When faced with marital conflict, I have heard you over and over, saying exactly what I need to feel understood: “It’s so cold out here in your wilderness.”
When my neighborhood was leveled by a deadly tornado, I heard in a loop in my mind, “Round my hometown, oh the people I’ve met/Are the wonders of my world.”
And when I finally snuggled my rainbow baby against my chest after so many grief- and anxiety-stricken months of waiting for him, all I could hear was, again, your voice: “I know you haven’t made your mind up yet/But I would never do you wrong./ I’ve known it from the moment that we met/ No doubt in my mind where you belong.”
Adele, these last seven years of my life have been the years that I have been a mother. I’ve felt joy to the stars and back, dark valleys of grief, moments of side-splitting laughter, and days when my sanity was taken to the brink and back by these little ones that I’m so lucky to have. My mama heart is appreciative to have your voice in these moments with us, sometimes serenading aloud and sometimes just in my own internal dialogue. To this newborn-cuddling, laundry-folding, homework-helping, coffee-drinking, joke-telling, dinosaur-stepping-on, sometimes-escaping, pizza-ordering, boy-scrubbing mother, you have made a difference. Thanks for being a friend.