It happened when I least expected it. My son Patrick was in 7th grade and restless. He was looking for something in his life. One day he picked up an old practice bass of my husband’s. I remember hearing those first tentative plunks from our basement, having no idea they sounded a new chapter, not only for Patrick, but me as well.
That day my son became a musician…and I became a band Mom.
My first foray into this world came when Patrick was in middle school and played the local teen center. He and his “mates” were so green they had to learn how to set up their amps and microphones. But they played and although it was what you’d expect from kids first learning, something struck me.
Their buddies had formed a semi-circle around them, no more than four feet away. I remember thinking what a great way to venture out into this new, tenuous creative world, surrounded by friends. It seemed a good omen.
High school came. Bands formed, broke up, and reformed with new members. There were “Battle of the Band” nights, quite a few Patrick and his friends won. I started seeing other band Moms. We’d nod and smile to each other. Some became my good friends.
Meanwhile, the guys started playing music joints in the area. And guess who had to drive them everywhere? Patrick’s younger brother Paul also caught the fever and formed several bands himself. Before I knew it, my car was full of musicians, amps, and equipment.
During this time, I learned God has a sense of humor. When music came, Patrick’s tenuous liking of sports ended. I smugly congratulated myself on getting out of early morning soccer games only to find my son’s band booked sometimes for 10:00 p.m. and later.
I’d whine and complain since I preferred my pajamas, but couldn’t deny something. Patrick had gone from a shy, undirected kid to someone with confidence and passion.
He and his friends started getting gigs in Hamden, Danbury, Newtown, Wilton, all the hot spots of the Nutmeg state. I knew I was officially a band Mom when I found myself caught in a Hartford mosh pit, surrounded by large, sweaty teenage boys. What can I say? It’s like being in a pinball machine with you as the ball.
One my proudest moments was when Patrick played Toad’s Place in New Haven. It was beyond cool to see my boy trod the same boards as Mick and Keith when the Stone’s played back in the 80’s.
The years passed.
Now a young man with a day job, Patrick plays lead guitar and sings for his band of several years. He writes most of their material. He and his friends have recorded several albums.
A few weeks ago, I watched them play. Adults now, they’re at the height of their power, still young but seasoned musicians, playing weekend gigs for pocket money.
I see my son engage the audience. I notice the silent communication between his band mates as they switch seamlessly from song to song. They know and like each other. Their music reflects that.
I think of that 7th grader who needed something in his life. And I see the things music did for him – a place to channel his energies, a sense of teamwork, deep, abiding friendships, an outlet for anger, fear, love, and of course, confidence.
And God, I’d love to take credit for this… but can’t. Patrick picked up that instrument. He was led by some divine guidance and had the good sense to listen. He learned. He practiced. He made mistakes. He had tough gigs with either no one there or stone-faced audiences. But he kept going. He kept getting better.
I also realize something else. Being a band mom changed me. It enriched and enhanced my life, bringing me into the deeper, more emotional world of music.
Maybe my son and his friends will be rich and famous someday like Mick and Keith. But I doubt it. The odds are against them. Still, it doesn’t matter. Music will always be there, helping soothe the bad times and amplify the good.
Sometimes I see these big musical acts and think of the women who drove those young boys to gigs, sometimes late at night. Their houses probably rocked from the noise. They listened and encouraged and fed them.
I’d even be willing to bet Mick and Keith had proud Band Mom’s once themselves. They sat in the audience… listening and smiling.
Has your child found a passion in life? I’d love to hear. Comments are always welcome. Thank you for reading and sharing!