“Well, a teacher of mine once told me
That life was just a list of disappointments and defeats
And you could only do your best,
And I said, “Well, that’s a fucking cop-out, you’re just washed up and you’re tired,
And when I get to your age, well, I won’t be such a coward.”
But these days I sit at home, known to shout at my TV
And Punk Rock didn’t live up to what I’d hoped that it could be
And all the things that I believed with all my heart when I was young
Are just coasters for beers and clean surfaces for drugs
And I packed all my pamphlets with my bibles at the back of the shelf”
Frank Turner-Love Song & Ire
The nickname Punk Rock Mom was bestowed upon me two years ago by two sisters working at my apartment complex. I was turning in my rental application and probably wearing black skinny jeans and some sort of black T-shirt and black Chucks. Tattoos may or may not have been visible, and my ears still harbor zero gauges. It was given to me immediately, but it wasn’t until about six months later they told me it was what they referred to me as. It is fitting, and always makes me smile when I go to pay rent to the greeting of, “Hey Punk Rock Mom. How’s life?”
I’m a mom, and I love punk rock. I always thought these two things should be mutually exclusive. Last year I was able to find a sitter for my child and went to a Less Than Jake/ Reel Big Fish show at the Intersection. Now, the crowd at this show was filled with kids. Filled. And I am probably younger than the band members. And the whole time the bands kept making jokes about how they peaked in the 90’s. The thing is, ska did sort of peak in the 90’s. Yet, these bands kept going, and they haven’t changed their style of music. So, how are these middle aged men still playing shows, singing about getting drunk and being lonely? And still relating so well with the current youth while keeping aging fans such as myself? How does an adult not grow out of a scene that is dedicated to not growing up? And if I quit identifying with the music and the messages, where does that leave me? How do you quit something you’ve loved and identified with for a vast majority of your life?
The short answer: You don’t.
I love punk rock. I love the energy, the subculture and the history. I love the politics and the self deprecation and the humor. I love the music. It doesn’t really matter to me that I’m 35 and a mom; getting older doesn’t change who am, just things like my bedtime and the desire to cook a healthy dinner every night. I don’t have to specifically identify with every song; once, in my life, I identified with some of them. And we are the sum of our experiences.
Frank Turner came into my life in 2010. I fell in love with his music after hearing the above quoted song, ‘Love Song & Ire’. I probably listened to it a thousand times a month. I thought, yes Frank, yes, this is how I feel. I shared it with a friend in Chicago, a friend I’ve had since I was 19, because this song couldn’t not be shared. Since the conception of our friendship we listened to music and drank more beers than I care to think about. Our conversations ranged from intelligent to insane, philosophical to literary. My favorite memory is only half there, tinged with alcohol. We were 23(I think)and he came from Western to visit and after a long night of drinking and darting at the Bird, we ‘borrowed’ some lawn chairs off a frat house porch and hung out in the middle of University Street talking at 3am. We weren’t yet adults, didn’t have to have it figured out. Until very recently, I felt so much of my passion had been lost. I attributed the high highs and the low lows of passion to youth, but that wasn’t right. Those highs and lows come from exploring. Though I no longer wish to have stories about chair thievery as an adult, I have come to realize that perhaps my passion didn’t lie in my ability to change the world or verbally express my distaste and dissent, but in my ability to interpret the world around me.
And my world view changes all the time.
I am a mom obsessed with music, movies, books, and good conversation over coffee. And sometimes, I pull out some Op Ivy and sing along with Jesse Michaels to the song Junkie’s Runnin’ Dry and think about that amazing, heartbreaking time that is youth. Punk Rock Mom? Hell yeah.