Oct 9, 2013

Punk Rock Babies.

Dear aap
I'm going to turn 33 in a few weeks. I've been playing in bands since high school, but also managed to get through college. Not a fancy college, but I do have a bachelor's degree. I have played more shows than I can count. I have had a lot of fun and some interesting adventures and made some long-term friends. I have loved it, but since I'm a girl and not a guy, I have other things on my mind too like wanting to have kids and have a real life too. I love my bandmates, but never dated any of them - they are all guys - and while I know they respect me, I don't think they understand how different this issue is for me than it is for them. Kids are something they are terrified will happen to them accidentally, while I'm starting to get terrified that I won't have any kids.

This pressure is all coming from me by the way. My parents are very supportive and cool and are not the kind who would be hassling me about supplying them with grandchildren. This is all internal. I guess I'm realizing that, no matter how much I DO still love playing music and doing shows, I'm never going to make enough of a living at it that it will be able to support a family. I think the guys in my band still think they're just a click or phonecall away from some big break, but I know that isn't going to happen for a band with members between 32 and 38. I don't want to quit necessarily, but I also do want to get on a more serious track jobwise I guess at least find something more serious and steady than the sorts of jobs we all have now, the sorts of jobs you can take a few weeks off from so that you can to a short road tour. 

How do you decide when it is time to make this switch and how do I tell my band? - Tick Tock

Dear TT -
You have the right to live your own life, but you do owe it to your bandmates to be honest and to give them as much advance warning as possible before you made any big changes. You didn't tell me what your role in the band is - If you're just playing an instrument in a band full of equals, then leaving probably won't derail the band if the other members want to keep it going. If you're the lead singer & front-person and/or the main songwriter, losing you could be a tough blow for a band to survive, and they would probably have to re-form as some other kind of band/entity. 

Clearly you've hit one of those moments in adulthood where you're realizing that "keeping all your options open" is no longer an option. Every decision to walk through one door or pursue one kind of life over another now means that those other options, those other doors not chosen, might then be closed for good. It can be scary. It is also pretty much a universal part of the human condition, so welcome to official adulthood... sucks sometimes, doesn't it?

I've hit that wall a time or two as well. I was 31 when I stopped playing in my last real(ish) band. I moved from Boston to California when I was 32. It was a hard decision to make. It opened some doors, but it also slammed shut some others. The move changed the direction of my life in every imaginable way (some good, some less so.) ...but I also felt, in a very deep way, that the decision had to be made at that time. If I had waited another ten, or even five years, it would have been to late to make the jump. Are there regrets and "what ifs" ...hell yes there are, but I think the regrets and especially the "what ifs" would be even heavier if I hadn't made the decisions I did, when I did. 

Life is long, if you're lucky. If the music is really in you, it will never leave, it just might have to take a back seat to a few years of diapers and carpooling to soccer practice. After her early trail-blazing rock/poetry career, Patti Smith spent nearly 20 years in Detroit quietly raising her kids and has now come back as strong as ever. It can be done. 

You DO need to bring this up with your full band as soon as possible. Do it all at once, don't corner the other members individually to feel them out on the subject, that'll just muddy the waters and likely start gossip etc. Just sit down with everyone and tell 'em what is on your mind. Their reaction, whether it is good or bad, will probably go a long way toward cementing in your mind the path you have to take next.  

...and it doesn't have to be drastic. It sounds like the motherhood thing is still in the idea stage for you. It just no longer sounds completely outlandish to you that you could be a mom. It doesn't sound like you've picked out the father yet or have any set timetable in your head... you just know you have to start making some changes and preparations in your life so that you could hopefully include a baby in it. This tells me that you don't have to necessarily quit the band right away, or even soon... You just have to be honest with your guys and warn them that you could be opting out of their grand plans for world domination. 

Good Luck, and if it is a boy, I'll mention that "Thomas" is a good, strong and "classic" kind of name that doesn't get used much these days.

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