A Lyrical Life

Singer-Songwriter Marie Bellet Found a Lot to Write About Home

Marie Bellet is a wife, mother of nine, and singer/songwriter. After earning a BA in economics from Swarthmore College, an MBA from Vanderbilt University, and singing with Alan Jackson, she left the business and music worlds for marriage. Marie began writing “housewife songs” while pregnant with her sixth child. She hasn’t stopped yet, but she kindly took a pause and shared some reflections with Salvo.

On Being a Lonely Mom

Some women are afraid of staying home with their kids, and I don’t think they realize what they’re missing! Sure, it can feel lonesome at times, but it is worth it for the formation of your children’s hearts—and your own! Kids need to know they are worth “wasting” an afternoon with or staying up late in the kitchen talking about their English paper.

Once I got the hang of it, I enjoyed being home quite a bit—making a game out of sorting the socks, interviewing imaginative and earnest toddlers with a camera. Eight boys and one girl could be a recipe for chaos, but I think it turned into a work of art. I admit I felt isolated when they were all little. That’s when I started writing my songs. I was pregnant with my only girl, had five little boys under six and had no friends or family close by. I thought, If only one of my sisters lived in town . . . or any other woman with three kids in diapers and macaroni and cheese in her hair.

My songs came from imagined conversations about things like adventures in the grocery store with mischievous kids, fighting with my husband, feeling sorry for myself, navigating the mess of the day, feeling helpless and awful when you see your children suffer. These things are very important to a wife and mother. Some songs were prayers, because when you’re alone with a bunch of kids, you talk to God: What were you thinking? When are we going to get to the punch line? I didn’t know I was signing up for this! My songs were a way to make sense of it. I wrote to console myself, but those songs became consolation and inspiration for others!

On Becoming a Mom Rocker

I never thought my songs would catch on. Popular songs describe the drama of falling in and out of love. My songs were about life at home, staying and living in love. Who cares about that? Housewives do, and there are a lot of us! My writing was unexpected.

I asked a priest in confession if writing songs could be just a temptation, and he said, “Send them to me and I’ll tell you.” So I got up the nerve to show them to a guitar player, made a rough demo, and sent it to the priest. To my delight he said, “Yes, you should be doing this. Other women need to hear this.” I did the next obvious thing and made a professional recording. I had no idea what I was doing, but in Nashville there are amazing musicians who know just how to transform a feeling into a sound, bringing my lyrics to life.

My husband thought it was kind of cool. I remember going to the studio at night after doing the dishes in my maternity overalls. I sent the recording to my parents, who gave it to somebody, who passed it on to somebody else, and I started getting emails from women saying, “You’re talking about my life.” That was strange because I thought I was talking just about mine.

There’s nothing like feeling that you have connected with someone who needed it—women who felt isolated and sometimes looked down upon for staying at home to raise kids and persevere in marriage. This was before there were online communities. I was sending out a signal and getting pings back. I started getting requests to perform. I would go if my husband could cover the kids and I could be in and out in 24 hours.

I never had a plan. I thought, If I’m going to write about this life, I must stay in the trenches, or I won’t have anything real to say. I loved the intimacy of performing. I would look out at a room full of women just like me—happy to be out of the house and off the hook for just one night—and I couldn’t wait to sing to them! My songs are about one way to live sacrificial love. It isn’t the only way. Ask God to show you your way. Chances are it is right in front of you, waiting.

On Dropping Out of “Real Life”

I worked for a few years before marriage, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought, All these years working hard in school and I thought a career would take all I had. But I learned it wasn’t all that riveting.I remember being four months pregnant with my first child, unable to care about the next work deadline, asking my husband if he would mind if I quit. He said to go right ahead.

Raising kids was a challenge that took every part of me and seemed so much more meaningful. The writing and performing was an unexpected bonus. I was conveying something important—and I had a microphone! If women in the audience suspected that they were missing out on something great by staying home, I wanted to remind them that family is worth all of you! What a shame if our loving enthusiasm and emotional energy is squandered on things that don’t matter to us personally.

Having children often takes you places you do not want to go and demands that you do things you never imagined yourself doing—like confronting the school, or getting scary phone calls in the middle of the night. Endless variety. You have to stay sharp! If I start to get overwhelmed, I make sure to connect with other mothers, exercise, read good literature, have a laugh, and persist in regular prayer. Remember there is always someone who is worse off than you are. Reach out to the lonely neighbor next door.

On What Women Do at Home All Day

We stay-at-homes are running our own show and putting our personality into it! When the kids were young, we ate dinner together every night and talked about school, what was in the news, the lyrics to rock songs and how to make sense of them. We told family stories so they would know who they were from. We built a shared history, humor, and culture. We are a do-it-yourself operation, fixing up the same house for the past three decades. We ran a parenting group and had huge gatherings.

In the beginning the kids followed our lead; now we follow theirs. They write poetry and songs, support themselves in their careers and hope to start families of their own. We get together to cook, play music, and read aloud passages from favorite books. We have music nights, “pasta and pontification” nights to talk about ideas, and invite friends to participate. I host book discussions and prayer groups, take history and theology classes, practice guitar, go to daily Mass, and work with an organization devoted to preserving traditional marriage. My husband and I give talks for marriage preparation. I still write songs, do open mic nights, house shows and occasionally sing concerts.

Being home has allowed me to cultivate these things I love. I paint the walls and move the furniture around in an endless art project. Now my daughter is a stay-at-home mother, and we have a sassy dancing granddaughter. I don’t know what else I could possibly want.

These days, when the house is mostly empty, I am no longer lonesome. If you have an inner life, it doesn’t matter where you are. Stay-at-home mothers need an inner life because we are dealing with eternal things—passing on culture and forming souls for heaven.

I don’t think you can overestimate the value of a woman at home. Women animate the lives of the people in their lives by seeing the good in them—children and husband, their friends and family. If we don’t see the good in them, who will? When it comes to being a wife and mother, to receive is to give.

You know how you can look at a satellite photo of North America and see all the lights? Imagine that each household with a loving mother is one of those lights! A place where the woman says to her husband and children, It’s good that you are here. A sanctuary of kindness, forgiveness, truth, and humor, where they feel well known, challenged to do the right thing, and don’t have to be phony.

So many of those lights have been turned off. Mothers are expected to work outside the home and are drained when they get home. We only have a certain amount of emotional energy. When I’m stressed out, I get very irritable. What if a mother were like that all the time? That energy is for your family! You need to convey to them, You are worth my time. You are lovable—whether you get an A or not.

On Becoming an Old Lady

The message from our youth culture is that if you don’t know how to use all the features on your smart phone, you don’t have anything relevant to say. Really? Before Covid I used to visit old folks’ homes to hear about lives that endured the Depression and two world wars. It was a window into another world filled with adventure, grit, and heroic sacrifice! We suffer today from a lack of meaning because we are afraid of sacrifice and of love. That makes for very boring people, who won’t do the right thing because it might turn out to be difficult.

Someday soon I will be that old lady, trying to tell others that you can keep a marriage together and that family is worth everything. I hope someone will be there to listen—maybe grandkids? I believe that if a woman gives herself totally to her children while they are being formed, they will be there for her. I trust in that economy of love.

Being open to life is not just about welcoming babies—it is being open to how it changes you, to what’s going to happen today, to what is right in front of you, to finding meaning in the daily grind, in doing the next good thing. As for me, I am still writing and singing. I probably always will.

—Visit MarieBellet.com for Marie’s music, music videos, blog, and contact information.

is coauthor of LadyLike (Concordia 2015). She has written for a variety of websites, magazines, and books. Her day job is housewife, church lady, and school mom. 

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #63, Winter 2022 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo63/a-lyrical-life


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