When I was a carefree ‘90s teen, I never anticipated the boyband pop I was obsessed with was instilling values that would someday help me parent. I never thought the songs I played at full volume in the car would someday take on new meanings, or that I’d be singing those same lyrics to help my baby sleep. However, I’m not sure any of us really understand the depth or the wisdom behind boyband music, since, as it turns out, there are a number of *NSYNC songs that definitely prepared us for motherhood. I know, it sounds kind of ridiculous, but in between the slick choreography, matching outfits, and (failed) attempts to surpass the Backstreet Boys in every recognizable way, there were actual sweet lessons to be learned.
My son is too young to appreciate the pop music of yore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to offering him a steady diet of it, not unlike my own dad’s efforts to indoctrinate me into classic rock. For the time being, he (my son, not my dad) is mostly into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and various Nickelodeon shows that involve dancing animals. But someday, I’ll sit down in a big armchair that's conveniently positioned next to a crackling fire, pull him onto my lap, and say, “Let me tell you about the ‘90s.” In the meantime, I have these special songs to help me through.
"Tearin’ Up My Heart"
Sure, sure, this song is overtly about a heartsick boy singing to a girl, that simple fact is hard to ignore. However, some lyrics can easily be applied to the struggles of motherhood. I mean, the whole second verse is: “Baby don't misunderstand/What I'm trying to tell ya/ In the corner of my mind/Baby, it feels like we're running out of time” which are pretty much the exact words that come out of my mouth when I’m trying to get my kid to put his shoes on and get out the door.
"Bye Bye Bye"
Not sure about you guys, but I never got a complete explanation as to why “Bye” is repeated three times, since no one does that and it’s kinda weird. At least, that’s what I thought until my son started learning to speak, and now we repeat things all the time, for no reason and just like *NSYNC, apparently.
"Thinking Of You (I Drive Myself Crazy)"
Problematic themes aside, this was pretty much my anthem when my son was a newborn, and I was trying to get used to sleeping again. Especially the lyrics “I lie awake/ I drive myself crazy/ Drive myself crazy/Thinking of you.”
Thanks, son. Someday, I'll figure out how to sleep again, instead of watching you breathe all night long.
"This I Promise You"
Hi, um, I’ve got a confession: this song is actually really sweet. It’s got an epic “I will love you forever and will always take care of you and support you” type of message, which if that doesn’t describe parenting, I don’t know what does.
Although, some of the outfits in the video are kinda questionable, which again, comes up a lot in parenting.
"(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You"
OK, seriously, what parent doesn’t think their kiddo is extra special and amazing? Plus, they made this one kinda obvious for us, portraying a mother and son relationship in the video.
"Trashin' The Camp" (with Phil Collins, from Disney’s 'Tarzan')
This song has no real lyrics, it’s just cheerful skat. However, because the words don't have any actual meaning, and because it’s literally about making messes, it’s the epitome of life with a toddler.
"It Makes Me Ill"
Hi, yes, this one deserves a spot on the list because I’ve been sick like 18 times this cold season, and I fully blame my son. Never mind the fact that the song itself is actually about romantic jealousy, the title alone speaks volumes for my life right now.
Anyone who’s ever raised a young child knows that they take space and cowboys pretty seriously. Though, I still don’t really get what they’re going for with lyrics, “Take a space ride with a cowboy” because that’s not really a thing. I just know that if I invited my son to do the same, he’d be all over it.
"The Game Is Over"
I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but the fact remains that it’s often up to me to tell my son when it’s bath time, or bedtime, or when we have to head home from the park, or when, in fact, the game is over. To be fair, it’s not quite the same thing as telling a cheating lover the jig is up, like the song is doing, but the level of emotion, to 2 year old, is comparable.
"Rock Your Body"
On a literal level, being comfortable with rocking is a great asset for motherhood. Thanks, Justin, for preparing me for what I did for hours on end (often in the middle of the night) during that first year.
"Bring It all To Me" (Blaque ft. JC)
The lyrics ask for “your time, your love, your special energy," but I’ll settle for my son to bring me the books he wants me to read, or the blocks he wants to play with, or his dirty dishes. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.
"Cry Me A River"
Hi, yes, perhaps you’ve heard that parenting involves lots of tears? And, just like Justin Timberlake shows us in the video, the urge to bury oneself in a hoodie and sulk around also ever-present.