Daily Distraction: Parenting is hard and Rosie Thomas gets it

The singer and songwriter enlists Sufjan Stevens, the Shins and others on Bjork cover 'All is Full of Love' from 'Lullabies for Parents Vol. 1'

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Cover art for the new Rosie Thomas EP "Lullabies for Parents Vol. 1"

It's a difficult time to be a good parent. Or even an OK parent. Any parent. Nobody knows what to do. 

You want your kids to go to school or daycare and be normal kids, but you also want to keep them safe, and you want to keep their teachers safe. You know virtual school will help keep them physically safe but too much virtual school probably isn't mentally safe.

You want them to see their friends and exercise and play the sports they love to play, but you want to keep them safe, and you want to keep their friends and their coaches safe.

Then they come home with a runny nose. Or a sore throat. Or a sore throat and a headache. Should you test them? We only have a few tests left. Maybe we should use one, though. Oh, good. It's negative. Wait, does that mean we tested too early? What if it's positive tomorrow? Should we use another one?

Also, yes, I'll help you work on that presentation. And remember to study for your science exam. It's worth 100 points. We can work on that after soccer practice. I know you and your buddy are the only ones wearing a mask to soccer but I just need you to keep wearing it for now, I'm sorry. 

No, there isn't basketball this week. They pushed it back a week in hopes that cases will go down. I'm sorry.

I know it's 10 degrees outside and the bus is late but there just aren't enough drivers right now. I'm sorry. No, I don't have tissues with me, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Rosie Thomas seems to understand these struggles, which is why she's releasing Lullabies for Parents Vol. 1, a five-track EP featuring three originals and two covers, one by Mariah Carey ("Always Be My Baby") and one by Bjork, "All is Full of Love," which you can listen to now before the EP releases in full on April 4.

Thomas carries the song, but she's helped by a slew of guest vocalists, including Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Alexi Murdoch, Charity Theilen (The Head & The Heart), Kanene Pipkin (The Lone Bellow), William Fitzsimmons, Dawn Landes, Audrey Assad, Leigh Nash, Denison Witmer, Josh Ottum, Beau Jennings, Kyshona Armstrong, Kevin Brace, Alvie Shoop and Buster Shoop.

Those last two names? Those are her kids, and when they chime in singing "All is full of love" with the rest of the voices, it's a gut punch, but one that comes with a dose of hope. "All is full of love." The choir sings it again and again in the outro, repeating it like a mantra until, just maybe, you start to believe it.

Give it a listen below, and hang in there.

Here's what Thomas had to say about the song:

"Originally, the plan was to do a quiet lullaby kind of version of the song, and really highlight the tender, encouraging lyrics, whether to children, to parents, to everyone really. Though we can understandably look past it these days, there is, in fact, love all around. Keep your head up. Stay hopeful. Look for it. Show it. Give it away. Love abounds. Love prevails. It's within reach. So, as Shoop kept working on the song, adding bits, and shaping the arrangement, he had the overwhelming, but inspired idea to get vocals of a few lines from a bunch of different friends and variety of distinct voices (even our kids for a younger generation) to bring in and out, and eventually amass a choir of sorts.  Some folks would come by the house when they were in Nashville, and others we sent instructions and requests, and they'd kindly send back vocals. This was largely pre-pandemic too, but proved to be a fairly seamless method once it began and we continued.  Shoop then built this crazy arrangement out of it, and it was really beautiful, but I told him, "sorry, you gotta keep going." I said, "I'll know it's done when my arm hairs stand up." So with that super helpful direction, he kept going ;) He had his best friend, James McAlister play drums, sorting out parts over the phone; sent out more singing assignments for new vocal parts, and kept plugging away at it himself, having long since jettisoned the minimal approach. Finally one day I was out back checking out the newest version, and it happened! I cried when it finished, ran inside, and said, "look at my arms!" "You did it!" I listen now, and pretend we're all in the same room singing side by side. It’s really special to me to get all these friends singing together on the same song. It feels like our own little We Are The World... We Are The Small World Afterall maybe?"