Five years ago I celebrated St. Patrick's Day at a Dropkick Murphys show. I was 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter, and thanks to pregnancy boobs and some very nice bouncers I was allowed to sit behind the bar to sip ginger ale and munch on soda crackers while I watched the show. This past weekend I once again celebrated St. Patrick's Day at a Dropkick Murphys show and the experience was somewhat different. Instead of being on the sidelines watching and thinking about what I would do if I were on the floor, I was there in the thick of it — jumping, singing, being loud and rowdy. It was fantastic.
While I was there, surrounded by the furor of it all I got to thinking that parenting is like a mosh pit. Seriously:
You take cues from your leader, but do your own thing
When you're moshing you're driven by the music — you hear the band, you feel the crowd and you act accordingly. As parents we can read all the books, and idolize all the experts, listen to the advice of our family and friends, but at the end of the day you are the person who decides what sort of parent you are going to be, how you are going to act and react to each new situation, and how you are going to raise your kid.
If you go with the flow everything will be alright
There is no such thing as a harmonious pit — it ain't kumbaya and flower petals — but there is a certain real and reliable energy to it that you can't help but match up with. The same is true of parents: every day has its own rhythm and we have to go with that to keep ourselves from being consumed by the minutia. There are days when the schedule will be abandoned, and days you will leave the cupcakes for the bakesale on the roof of your car, and days when the juggling act of work, kids, and maintaining your relationship with your partner will just fall to pieces, but it will all shake out in the end, and every obstacle that feels huge today will be a blip of memory tomorrow.
You will get hurt, but that is not what you are going to remember.
I say this one and have to laugh a little — my husband walked away from the show with a minor concussion, so we are likely to remember that injury for a little while. In general, the bumps and bruises from a mosh pit fade long before you're done talking about the music and the experience. There are days that the innocent comments of my almost five-year-old stop me in my tracks with how barbed and hurtful they feel, but as I sit here writing this I can't remember them specifically. The things that do stand out are the moments when that same innocence leads our family to a brilliant insight. And the flat out sillies. Nothing is better than a case of the four-year-old sillies. Those giggles are what I hold on to.
You have to know that if you fall there will be someone to pick you up.
I have always found a very strong sense of community in the punk rock world. When hundreds of people are all belting out the same song, with the same emotion and energy you can't help but feel that you are a part of it all. I know the same can be said about every musical genre, but I feel with punk it's different — to me punk has never been about a group of people on stage entertaining the audience, but rather that the band and the audience are cut from the same cloth and that we are all there for the experience of the night.
The mosh pit is the sharpest example of this sense of community — everyone has a role and a job to do. A big part of that — for everyone involved — is to make sure that if someone falls, they get picked up. The people that maintain the edge catch you, they right you on your feet and send you back in. Parenting needs to have the same community of supporters. Not just for the big falls, but for the day to day. We all need someone we can call on when the day is getting to us, or when work keeps us from picking up our kiddos from the school nurse, and even when it's time to get rowdy with a run in the park. We especially need our community when it is time to celebrate.
There are people that just won't get it. Ignore those people.
I am always surprised at how many people go to a show and stand in disgusted awe of a mosh pit. Who are these people? They dress the same way I do, talk similarly, are roughly the same age, they obviously listen to the same music, and yet, where I see and celebrate the high energy experience of a mosh pit they stand on the edge harrumphing the people who might be impeding their view. I just want to scream, "Get over yourself, you didn't come here for the high-end musicality of it or to see what sort of gorgeous outfits they're wearing on stage! If you don't leave here sweaty and a little dented you missed the point!" This is where I see the most striking similarity to parenting, there are people (including and perhaps especially other parents) that are not going to get the way you approach your family, your role as a parent, and the way you raise your kids. Ignore them. As long as your kids are safe, healthy, and happy I can't think of any reason a person should look at you funny.
When we left the show Saturday night I was full of energy and ready to take on anything. Music you love will do that. As the ringing in my ears faded and I got back into our family routines I felt genuinely refreshed. Perhaps the biggest similarity between being a mom and being a mosher is that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and the people around you is to step out of your headspace, take a break from thinking so much, and just do what feels right in the moment.