A Mixtape for My Daughter


Since I was a teenager, when I hear certain songs that leave me with a powerful feeling — inspiration, awe, empowerment, regret, sorrow — I think to myself, “Man, I should put that on a mixtape for my kids. What a great life lesson!” A few weeks ago, as I thought about being 30-something weeks pregnant with my first child, a girl, I realized that I could and should do it now! And then, share it with you people!

Only one cassette tape mixtape remains (unless my mom has the rest of them in a black Case Logic cassette tape organizer — with zipper — at her house… in fact, I’m sure she does).

I have loved music since I can remember. My mom and dad raised my sister and me on popular tunes from the ’50s through the ’80s as we drove hours a day to and from school, extra-curriculars, running errands, and on family road trips. We listened to A LOT of 90’s Top 40 in the car as well, once we reached the age when we could control that dial.

When we got a boom box with a radio and tape deck (like the kind you see people carrying on their shoulder in the movies)… Commence The Decade (or more) of The Mixtape. We celebrated the moment when our family got a fancy stereo system with a multi-disk CD player AND a double tape deck. Now, we could make mixtapes to our heart’s content! And after that, we got a CD burner and iTunes on the family computer. Finally, we would burn CDs on the laptops we both took off to college… Increasing levels of mixtape heaven!

Today, I love to listen to just about anything. The possibilities are endless — the right music can enhance or change any mood. There is still something so powerful about creating a mix or playlist. You can control the genre, the theme, the tempo, the message of your music. You can make magic with the right mix.

So, because I love music and because the timing is finally right, I made a mixtape for my daughter. (I used Spotify because I’m trying to evolve with the times, you know.) It is as eclectic as my music taste. I hope it is inspirational. I hope it is empowering. I hope it is fun. Every song has a message I want her to hear and learn — all of which I have struggled with, many of which took me way too long to learn, many of which we clearly still confront on a daily basis in greater Western society with the #metoo and #timesup movements.

I hope that “Mess is Mine,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and “A Thousand Years” will remind her that she will always be one of her father and my greatest loves, that we would do anything for her, that we will always take care of her at any age or any point.

Songs like “32 Flavors,” “Ain’t No Man,” “Born This Way,” and “Art in Me” tell her, when the outside world turns on the pressure to conform or tells her she is not enough, that she is amazing just as she is.

Songs like “Remember,” “Crazy,” and “Do Whatcha Wanna” are to reground her in her sense of self and her dreams when she feels lost.

Songs like “Run the World,” “Stronger” (both of them), “She Wolf,” and “Respect” are to empower her if she feels weak or doubts her potential to do great things (without anyone’s permission) — you know, #girlpower.

“Anything Could Happen,” “Absolutely,” and “Nuevas Senoritas” are there to remind her to keep a sense of possibility, hope, and wonder in her life.

If a disappointment — professionally, in a relationship, or otherwise — takes hold, “Blackbird,” “Dog Days are Over,” “Here Comes the Sun” are there to lift her back up off the ground.

And, as each trouble I have faced in my life has been eased when I (re)focus on my faith, I included songs like “Faith Like a Child” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (which my husband and I had played as our wedding processional).

My hope is that this mixtape will help my daughter hear some lessons about life and love that she might not want to hear from her mother. I pray that the songs will speak to her when I can’t. I hope you — and maybe even your daughter — enjoy it, too. 




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Sarah Townsend Leach is a fundraising, communications, and leadership professional living in Collierville and working with clients around the country. Sarah grew up in Nashville and has lived in quite a few places, but thanks to visiting grandparents in East Memphis throughout her childhood and attending Rhodes College in Midtown, this has always been a second (and now a primary!) home. Sarah and her husband John met through both of their work in the Episcopal Church in 2015, and she is a mom to Poppy (June 2018) and Ann Townsend (October 2019). Follow her journey through new motherhood: focusing on learning how to be a parent and finding her new work-life balance out in the burbs. Sarah loves exploring, being outside, yoga, and crafting (all of which she has no time for now that she is a toddler mom).