Husband and I used to be in a band. Well, we technically still are. We just don't ever play the songs we're still writing, because we have six kids. But before those six kids, we played all over Texas and took a few tours through Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. We wrote our own songs and practiced every day and stayed up way too late playing gigs.
When the first son was born, we continued our pursuit. Son #1 was super easy to pack up and take along with us, because he loved music and enjoyed meeting new people who fawned all over him and was amazingly tolerant of long trips. Son #2 came along two years later, and it was still relatively easy. We just packed for two kids instead of one. Then came son #3.
I won't say he meant to change everything. It's just the logistics of it. When parents go from two to three kids, everything gets real. You've suddenly run out of hands. And eyes. And ability to focus.
Ever since I was a little kid I've wanted to be two things: a writer and a rock star. I get to be one of them, writing every single day of my life, and it's bliss. And, for the other, well, this is all I got.
Being a rockstar used to mean fame.
I know it sounds shallow to put it like that, but doesn't any performer who's good at what they do dream of this? Packed crowds chanting the band's name and singing along to songs with their camera phones as "lighters?" Fans wanting to meet us just to shake our hand or say a few words to us? People dancing in their places or moshing or whatever kids do these days, even if they can't hear a note of the music because they're screaming too loudly?
Actually, this sounds exactly like my house. There's a packed crowd chanting my name when it's time for dinner and I don't even have anything started. There's a line of kids wanting just a minute of our attention because they have to tell us their brother took the toy they were playing with and they're really sad about that and they need help getting it back. And there are little boys dancing or moshing (mostly unintentionally, but this is what happens when you're eight people in a small living room and Imagine Dragons is playing on Pandora) and screaming so loudly you can't hear a note of the music because we're playing one of the songs we wrote for them and they just want the Kidz Bop version of anything Taylor Swift.
Being a rockstar used to mean a whole crew of roadies.
Roadies are people who carry all the heavy stuff and help set up the equipment and wait around until the show is over just so they can help some more. They're pretty handy people.
And I suppose, in a way, I still have roadies, because when we go to the local museum, the 8-year-old does do the heavy lifting with those books he likes to bring anywhere, even though we didn't ask him to bring them. And the 5-year-old will load up that backpack with a thousand stuffed animals he wanted to bring along so they could see the lions at the zoo, and he'll carry it the whole time. And one of the 3-year-olds will always try to get the picnic lunch out of the car and accidentally dump it out on the sidewalk so the birds come swooping. I know. He's just trying to help, like roadies do.
Being a rockstar used to mean a whole closet of cool clothes.
I thought long and hard about what I wanted to look like on stage. I was the only female in a band of males, and I needed to stand out. Be noticed. That meant bold colors and dramatic makeup and shoes that were comfortable but still said "Woman."
And it's true that I do wear a bright orange workout shirt about once a week with my uniform workout pants and I have gone way dramatic with the makeup and adopted the "naked face" look, and my shoes do say "Woman" because they're fluorescent pink running shoes that allow me to chase after my 3-year-olds when they get a wild hair every other minute and decide they're going to sprint in two different directions and see who Mama catches first. My cool clothes have just become be-prepared-to-run-at-all-times clothes.
Being a rockstar used to mean a glamorous life.
Of course we would meet all the famous people, like Simon Cowell or Ed Sheeran or maybe just Adam Sandler. We'd sit down to fancy dinners and wipe our mouths with silky napkins and engage in stimulating conversation. We would get in the car and cruise to a party at any hour of any day.
Okay, so, yes, I get to meet famous people like the 8-year-old's principal or the 5-year-old's best friend (he talks about her ALL THE TIME) and I get to sit down to a dinner of sun-roasted tomato parmesan pasta with the cloth napkins we made ourselves and engage in stimulating conversation like how we could do a sugar experiment with ice cream and root beer, because that's what they did in class today and they DRANK IT ALL AND IT WAS SO YUMMY and now they can't stay at the table because they have too much energy and they need to ruuuuuuunnnn. And even though it takes us three hours just to leave the house, we still get to go to the occasional party when the kids are invited, (because sitters for six kids are hard to find). What kind of person would want to party at all hours of the day, anyway? My kids are up all hours of the day. Midnight and I have become intimately familiar, and let me just tell you, he's pretty exhausting.
I used to want to be a rockstar. And this is all I got.
But you know what? I don't think this parenting gig was the short end of the stick at all. Mostly because I get to feel like a rockstar every single day. I feel like a rockstar when my kid is whining and I just can't take it anymore and I miraculously don't yell but calmly say that his whining makes me feel like the tea kettle that's going off on the stove. I feel like a rockstar when I finally get dinner on the table without losing my mind from all the "I'm hungrys" following me around and not one of them complains about what we're having for once. I feel like a rockstar every time I get out the door in the morning with all six kids dressed and wearing mostly matching shoes.
I feel like a rockstar when I climb out of bed after a night cleaning up puke. I feel like a rockstar when I remember my toothbrush on a trip, because I usually pack for the kids first. I feel like a rockstar when they smile at me after a long day like I'm the most important person in the world to them.
Every parent who is raising a human being to be a decent person is a rockstar, because we have legions of adoring fans (okay, a handful at the most), even if we're the ones who chose them in the first place; and we have a glamorous life, even if it looks like eating dinner at the same table every night and parties at home and conversation about what they did in school today; and we have songs, every day, in all the spaces of life, because those songs are the voices of our children, chanting their demands and complaining about their problems and murmuring their "I love yous" when we most need them.
So what if I used to want to be a rockstar and this is all I got?
What I got is love and fun and adventure and life. So much more than I ever dared to dream.