jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

On the Occasion of My 43rd Birthday: The Dave Matthews Prophecy

I was always a jinxie girl. It was rarely the typical signs of luck that got me;  black cats, ladders, the number thirteen, stepping on cracks (which may explain why my mother always had broken ankles). But I was jinxie about loads of other things.

As a field hockey goalie I always had to hit the goal posts, left then right, then overhead, then the pads on my shins. If my attention wavered then that meant I was going to miss the next shot on goal. Which is an AWESOME thing to think right before being attacked by say, the 6′ tall power forward on UConn’s DI team. It explains a lot about my 5’3” shortcomings as a goalie, and perhaps about me as a person.

Jennie, 5 Years Old February 25, 1976

Jennie, 5 Years Old
Make a Wish
February 25, 1976

As for my daily life, jinxie luck was about making a wish whenever I blew out my birthday candles. And it was also about making a wish whenever the lock moved to the front of the chain necklace I wore. Then I’d kiss the lock before spinning it to the back of my neck and say to myself, “I wish that someone loved me. Amen.” Which was wishing not for daily love; I was the family peace-maker, I always felt loved. I wished for romantic love. I wished for it with all my heart and soul, as I listened to Total Eclipse of the Heart or played my flute on a sandy beach in Cape Cod wearing a diaphanous prairie skirt. (Seriously. You feeling it? What twelve year old boy wouldn’t want to hit that, am I right?)

Over time I added to the wish, “I wish that someone loved me and that I knew it. Amen,” just in case I was missing something.

And after being asked to the prom a couple times, but always by people who would end up someday writing billion dollar code for Apple or studying the space-time continuum (sadly neither of which were hitting my Harlequin Romance G-spot), I adapted. “I wish that someone loved me and that I knew it and that I loved them back. Amen”


Looking for love in all the wrong places…
Homecoming, 1986

Which just about covered it. It was like the Serenity Prayer, but for teen romantic love.

I also watched for The First Song Prophecy. Put simply, the first song you hear on your birthday is prophetic.

At 39 it was Closer to Fine, such an absolutely perfect song that at the time I wrote a haiku about it.

nostalgic birthday haiku:

song from college played

“How long ’til my soul gets it

right?” thirty-nine years…

At 40, Landslide was the first song that played. It was so perfect, and the day so overwhelming or depressing or both, that I literally stopped writing mid-sentence. “Landslide played today and-”

At 41 it was Circus on the Moon, an absolutely perfect song for a woman with a four year old, two three year olds and a breastfeeding baby. No matter which way you take the metaphor… I’m the moon, my house is the moon, my boobs are the moon. Circus. Circus. Circus.

Today it was Let Her Go. Which was a little disappointing. On the one hand, it sounds eerily like Total Eclipse of the Heart. “Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by.” Ugh.

But on the other hand, it’s sort of where I’m at today. “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low, Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home…”

“I only know I appreciate how clear is my skin, When I wake up with a huge zit on my chin,” (on my 43rd birthday.)

“Only know how awesome their antics are that surround me, When someone vomits all over the post office and my feet,” (the week of my 43rd birthday.)

“Only appreciate the school where they learn, when they’re home for conferences at every turn,” (on my 43rd birthday.)

Luckily, there’s a clause in the birthday song gris-gris. You can opt for the second song you hear when the first song has already been started and is too lame or depressing to apply to your life.

And as always, the exception applies.

See you and me

Have a better time than most can dream

Have it better than the best

So we can pull on through

Whatever tears at us

Whatever holds us down

And if nothing can be done

We’ll make the best of what’s around

The Best of What’s Around by Dave Matthews. Not my favorite of his songs, but the words. The words.

Seeing things from a

Better side than most can dream

On a clearer road I feel

Oh you could say she’s safe

Whatever tears at her

Whatever holds her down

And if nothing can be done

She’ll make the best of what’s around


Jen & Co.
February 2014

It’s about having the love, feeling the love, and returning the love. If we’re lucky and we work hard enough, it’s right there all around us.

May this year be a year for all of us to make our own magic when we need it, and then to bring it to those we love, near and far. May all your wishes come true and only happy prophecies find you across the radio waves. (And if all else fails, wait for the next song.)

Turns out not where but what you think

That really matters

We’ll make the best of what’s around

29 comments on “On the Occasion of My 43rd Birthday: The Dave Matthews Prophecy

  1. ashleyomelia
    February 25, 2014

    I love that song! Great article!

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Ha! Thank you. But which song? Total Eclipse of the Heart? You know it’s Bonnie Tyler we’re all jamming to. 😉

      • ashleyomelia
        February 28, 2014

        I’ve always been a Dave Mathews fan!

        • jgroeber
          February 28, 2014

          Me, too. I remember my father saying, “Why does this guy whine all the time?” the first time I played DMB for him in 1993. Classic.

          • ashleyomelia
            February 28, 2014

            Well it’s not cool unless your parents don’t like it!

            • jgroeber
              March 2, 2014

              Exactly. I should remember that with my own children. Maybe if I dress trashy my girls will never dress trashy? I shun polka dot leggings under comfy cotton dresses and they’ll choose that! Tempting… (Thanks so much for reading and commenting.)

            • ashleyomelia
              March 2, 2014

              Interesting thought….I guess I’ll spend my day buying tube tops and hot pants!
              And you’re welcome!

  2. giselacarmona
    February 25, 2014

    Have a very happy birthday! My best wishes for you on your brand new trip around the sun… I hope it’s always filled with smiles and wonderful songs!

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Oh, I love that. My brand new trip around the sun. If we saw the year that way, maybe there’d be more celestial magic or at least, a better sense of our literal place in the world. Thank you!

  3. Chrissy Lemos
    February 25, 2014

    Happy Birthday! I hope you find a few minutes to yourself to enjoy some silence! 🙂

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Yay! So good to see you blog-side! Usually I see you from afar in the pick-up line, and I’m usually writing my blog then! 😉
      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  4. Jennie Saia
    February 25, 2014

    That’s how you make superstitions work for YOU!

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Since we make the superstition up in our head, we might as well make it always work for us, right? I don’t know what I was thinking with that bad field hockey mojo… totally destroyed too many games! I should have used made-up voodoo to turn myself into an Olympic athlete. There’s a lesson there.

  5. patrican2014
    February 25, 2014

    Wishing you a very happy birthday Jen. Please know that every blog is a gift to me. I have no idea where you get the energy! I so appreciate and admire your talent.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      How lovely is your comment? Made my day.
      A parent at an event last night said, “Someone was telling me I absolutely had to read your blog.” Turned out it was you, of course! Thank you for the positive words and for spreading that word around. You do know you inspire the rest of us, right?

  6. Michele
    February 25, 2014

    How awesome are you???? Great post on your birthday!!! I hope that every day you wake up with a song in your heart and a smile on your face!!! LYLAS

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      How awesome are YOU for always reading? Loved your comment. You’re the best! LYLAS

  7. Nadia
    February 25, 2014

    Happy birthday, and may those lyrics be true for you this year.

    I have had superstitions about songs all my life… ‘The next one that plays will tell me how my day will be’, etc. I might borrow yours for my own birthday.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Yay! Thanks for stopping by. I love when the song gris-gris comes through, especially on the birthday. Sometimes it’s just the personal birthday moment we all need. Just us and the radio waves. Timeless.

  8. Margie S
    February 25, 2014

    Happy Birthday – 43 years young! Hope you have many more song inspired days. How brave you are to post your 80’s do.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Any good day can be a song-inspired day, am I right? Except when that Lorde song comes on… let me be your Queen Bee. That song always ruins my morning! (We called that 80’s do the boof. It was classic. Lots of Aquanet!)

  9. rcinc
    February 26, 2014

    Happy Birthday! I’m always reading your blog. Keep up the amazing, insightful writing. It is a gift to all your readers.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      You are terrific to stop by. And thanks for the kind words. It’s a weird world, this blogging thing. But I LOVE how it’s reconnected me to people near and far (like you!) Just think, at the next reunion (if there ever is one and if I ever make it down) we’ll have so much to talk about. Ha!

  10. MommyVerbs
    February 27, 2014

    Happy Happy Birthday! I love everything about this! I’m betting our iPod playlists would share a lot in common. Dave Matthews always makes everything ok. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Thanks for stopping by! Shameless birthday self-promotion… THE BLOG! 🙂

  11. talesfromthemotherland
    March 4, 2014

    That was my “song of the day” on FB the other day… love it. HaPpY bIrThDaY girlie!

    • jgroeber
      March 9, 2014

      Ah, thank you! Did I really turn 43 recently or have I been totally delinquent catching up on comments? Oh, BOTH! Banner week. 😉 (Do they make an emoticon smiley-face with wrinkles?)

  12. Pingback: Melancholic Birthday Girl, Carry On | jen groeber: mama art

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