The good old days, redux

Last night, as the extremely rock and roll Amanda Kleinman was preparing to rock the 9:30 club, I was in my kitchen with a book marketing conference call muted, trying to get my kids ready for bed while tuning in enough to learn something. You can imagine how well THAT went. Actually, I did glean a few things…these guys are book launch marketing gurus, check them out if that’s up your alley…Whiff Guys.

It led me to ponder how my concert going habits have changed since having kids. What was once a spur of the moment “What the heck let’s go” is now an event planned months in advance and carefully orchestrated with babysitters and bedtime routines. The upside is, when I go, I really, deeply cherish the experience. If anyone’s cell phone rings, I kung fu chop them and scream, “I HAVE NOT BEEN OUT IN 4 MONTHS, KEEP IT DOWN OVER THERE!” Not really. But I might.

And THAT made me think about my last concert before becoming a mom. It was my very first Clutch concert. I was eight months pregnant with J, and 20 years old. His dad (not my husband, and we’d broken up before we found out about the baby) gave me the self-titled Clutch CD during my first trimester, and it was in constant heavy rotation. I’d gone to high school with those Clutch boys, but they were seniors when I was a freshman, so I’d never spoken to any of them.

They were playing in Baltimore, and I persuaded my brother to come with me to guard my bump from the mosh pit. It didn’t take much, as he likes them too. As I was putting on my pregnant overalls, searching desperately for some kind of black shirt with no fricking flowers on it, I realized that my rock and roll days were over. This was my last hurrah.

I was 20 years old, and I was never going to be able to rock out again, because I was going to be someone’s mom. Someone’s reponsible mom. Or so I hoped…my track record up to that point wasn’t so great, and I was in mortal fear of totally screwing up this kid. Cursing the fact that I couldn’t do shots, we drove to Baltimore.

When Clutch came on, the crowd intensified, and I put my brother in front of me. What had I been thinking? As incredible as the music was, I didn’t belong here anymore. The smoke made me sick, I was jealous of the drunks, and felt like a bad mom for not being home knitting or some shit. (Although I hear knitting is now very hip.) We stayed the whole time, and it was great, but when we left, I felt like I was leaving my rock and roll self behind. No more Fugazi Fort Reno shows, no more 9:30 Club…it was time to learn some lullabies and get down to the business of growing up.

So I surrendered to the flowered clothes, the only things that would fit me for the last month, gathered for me by my mom’s church ladies. I cut all my hair off and waited to become a mother, back in the shelter of my childhood home.

He was born 11 days before my 21st birthday, and of course everything changed. I didn’t miss being my wild self, because everything was encompassed in his skin, his veins, his blood. Everything I’d needed to make myself complete became irrelevant when faced with this creature. In the purest sense, he was everything I needed, and he’s the reason I’m still on this earth 11 years later. He’s definitely the reason I ever finished college. Because I was scared. Scared that i couldn’t be everything and do everything, be mother and father and sole provider. But he made me want to try, try harder than I’ve ever tried for anything before.

When he was five months old, I was in a night creative writing class at the local community college. There was this amazing Hippie Martha Stewart girl. She made me feel not as alien as everyone else my age did. She asked about my baby and didn’t look away when I leaked on my shirt during breaks.

One night, she said, “When my brother’s band gets back from tour, you should bring J up to his house and hang out.” I was dubious. Hang out? With a bunch of rock and roll boys? I hadn’t been a mother for long, but I was pret-ty sure that’s not what they do.

“Come on!” she said. “It’ll be fun.” So one Friday we drove up to the Bakerton Road house in West Virginia, where three of the four Clutch boys lived when they weren’t on tour. I was, for once in my life, not looking for a boyfriend. I was keeping my head down, trying to get through college and figure out the rest as I went along. Then I met Dan.

So now here we are, 2 more kids and ten years later. We got married the week before I graduated from Hood. He’s a great dad (along with J’s bio-dad) to all of our children, including the one who gestated while listening to his basslines. (Well, I guess they all did.)

In the purest sense, being married to him has allowed me to keep the parts of me that I didn’t want to give up. To honor the fact that I can be a mom, but not be my mom. And watching him make music and creativity a priority in his life has gifted me with the courage to try to do the same, to see that art is not necessarily all inspiration. Sometimes, it’s practicing for three hours a day six days a week.

So that first Clutch concert’s morphed into 150 or so, that blur together now, but always add up to the same thing…my family. What I thought was the last was actually the first in a series of many, as is so often the case. Like with donuts.

How bout you? As you’ve grown up, do you see more music? Less? And does it still matter to you the same way?

 
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Comments (11)

  1. Eric Lee Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Can you tell me who did your layout? I've been looking for one kind of like yours. Thank you.
  2. KaBinks Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Wow, wow, wow, Linds. I feel like you wrote this for me. Our stories are so similar and yet not. I think we are starting to inspire each other alittle. When I hit my 150th Clutch show , can we hang out all night and party like BK ????? (it looks like that date could be sooner than later).
  3. rockrollmama Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Hey Eric! Gladly- the Amazing Jenny at www.websydaisy.com, and it's a Wordpress template- Cleaker 2.0. Binks- Thanks.:) We totally can, but I don't party like BK anymore...pellegrino is my Vodka. But we can still rock out. Maybe Nola again, this time I'll stay for the show.
  4. Tiner Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Awww shucks. Ya got me tearin up over here! Thanks for reminding me of how all the puzzle pieces got put together for this joy ride.
  5. Devilish Southern Belle Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    That's such an amazing story! I definitely don't feel so alone anymore for not completely checking my personality at the door when I had kids. Who says we can't retain our identities...or rather, forge newer, better identities...once we become parents? I do wish I hadn't stupidly dropped out of college, though.
  6. rockrollmama Friday - 27 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Thanks ladies.Tiner, I'm sending Good Rothbury vibes your way.:) Devil SB, I make it sound all linear, but I definitely had some fits and starts in there with college...my oldest was 5 before I finished. I really like your blog...I need a guide to teenagers, and I love how you've created your path.
  7. KaBinks Saturday - 28 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    I guess I'll have to party with Tiner and you will have to be DD !
  8. Susan Sunday - 29 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Ironically, I'm seeing more music these days. It was always a huge part of my life, but now it' also a work-related thing and is more on the forefront. I also take the kids to lots of shows - when I'm sure they won't be trampled. I want them to know about live music the same way I want them to know where their food comes from.
  9. amy Monday - 30 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    i totally love your format. beautiful writing, made me cry. i just recently made my kids, age 8 and 5 watch the beatles songs on utube. they liked some of the songs. then they asked to see some jonas brothers videos...
  10. rockrollmama Monday - 30 / 06 / 2008 Reply
    Susan: I like that analogy. I've been thinking about that when we go to the Farm on saturdays. Not that my kids will EAT anything from the farm... Any: Thanks so much! LOL at your kids and the Beatles, I got my oldest the Beatles' "One" album comp, and he's like "Uhhhhhh...play the Yellow Submarine one again." All we can do is try.:)
  11. sandyw Thursday - 03 / 07 / 2008 Reply
    My last concert before children (I was actually with child) was Ani and my last concert before your blog was Ani (and I was actually with YOU)! Beautiful blog, honey.

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