Daze Like Today: A Song for the Long Nights and Short Years of Early Parenthood.

As I emerge from the early parenting years, I have found more time for music as well as writing.

After years in the making, there has finally been a chance for our little band Mount Disappointment Light Opera Company to put out this song Days Like Today, with a video we made very recently.

The lyrics say loss, the video says early family life, the music says hope. So what’s the story?

I’ve been a stranger in my own neighbourhood

I’ve turned mirrors to walls

I’ve had days run like years

And spent years in a daze

I’ve been writing songs since I was a child. It has always felt like a kind of magic; there is mystery in a good song and where on earth it came from.

In over 30 years I have written hundreds of songs, but only a few good ones, and those good ones have a mystery in common: I have no idea how I made them any good. I’m not even sure exactly what they are about.

Days Like Today could be read as a classic pop song of grief for lost romance. The singer has been through tough times since the lover left, but upon reunion, even if only brief, it’s like old times. As long as the singer is able, the lover will always have a place with them, even if it’s secret, even if it’s only imagined. Has the lover really returned, or is just the singer’s memory? Or hallucination?

Classic stuff. Hardly original.

But then, in putting a music video together, another reading of the song came up. Maybe it was the innocence of the toy ukulele (which the music was written on amid naps and nappies) that made all those images of young family life seem to fit so well, but there it was – Days Like Today as a song looking back over early parenthood from the other side, counting the losses.

Parents of small kids I have known in my work as a psychiatrist and in the rest of my life do have days that run like years. They can feel like a stranger in their own neighbourhood and they can want to turn their mirrors to the wall. Years in a daze!

Days like today

When you were here

It’s like you never went away

“Don’t disappear,”

I hear myself say, in vain

As the video came together, this alternative reading of the lyrics made more and more sense. Parents emerging from the small children years begin to get days when they can look up at their partner and see them again as the lover they once chose. They can wish it would last longer than it does, but the glimpses are fleeting.

The lovers became parents, who must put the needs of small people first, and so the gaze must be broken, energy diverted back to growing the young again. What of those nights spent together at tables for two, long before sleep deprivation we didn’t choose?

No don’t disappear

Don’t you go where I’m not able!

Don’t you know there’s a place at my table

Don’t go anywhere

I’ll keep a chair

As long as I’m able

A place at my table

In early parenthood they say the nights are long but the years are short. The nostalgia of the video added a second lost era to be mourned. Not just the lost era of pre-parenthood couple relationship, but then as the short years of long nights pass, that era is lost too.

Oh, the bothness! Days Like Today as looking back over the early parenting years, lamenting lost times with lost loves, both the young adult love and the young kid love.

As long as I’m able my table’s set for two

The ghost of me at tea with you

You made nights fly like kites!

In young adult love, nights can fly like kites because of euphoria, the giddiness of new connection and self-discovery. In loving young kids, if nights fly they’re kites in a blustery gale, or else becalmed, with lots of running to keep up. Either way, the singer seems repentant, humbled, and dazed, a bit unsure whether to trust memory or senses…

You were right, I was wrong

And I don’t think anybody knows

That I’m seeing you

I don’t think anyone believes

In days like today

When you were here

It’s like you never went away

“Don’t disappear!”

I hear myself say again

It’s a very personal journey through the beautiful brutal early years of family life. Does anyone believe what you are seeing? Or understand what you are afraid will disappear?

In moments when you feel most alone with your experiences, and least hopeful anyone can help you resolve them, maybe the best you can do is resolve to keep a place for what you hold so dear. So you vow to keep a vigil.

No don’t disappear

Don’t you go where I’m not able!

Don’t you know there’s a place at my table

Don’t you go anywhere dear

I’ll keep a chair here

As long as I’m able

A place at my table

I have always preferred to write mongrel pop songs, rather than purebred poetry or music in a stricter genre. Pop music lets you leaven hefty life themes with weightless beats, chord sequences or melodies. The music for Days Like Today is just so hopeful, and that stops the loss themes from becoming overwhelming.

The result is an upbeat message that my clinical practice and life experience very much back up: if you grieve the old well, there’s room for renewal.

Finally though, we cut the mix short, with some echo effect. Suddenly the noise stops, kids’ voices and all. It’s gone, and all that is left is the gone-ness. Which never really goes.

That’s how I know this song and its video are being true to life, because it’s both upbeat and haunting. Upbeat so you can let it in, haunting so you can’t let it go.

That way it does what any art – or child – has to do to survive: living on in you.

To hear/share just the song:


To see/share just the video:


Words, images and music (c) M Roberts 2019

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