Punk rock…it’s mohawks and The Clash. Studs and safety pins. Youth and anger and fists…or so I thought, until I was recently described as punk by several different sources.
I’m a local musician, and I’ve definitely got some rock-and-roll in me, but punk? I’m a 42-year-old mom of two!
A few months ago, this notion was still rattling around in the back of my mind when I picked up a copy of Billy Idol’s memoir on a whim while traveling. Dancing With Myself is basically a primer on the origin of the punk movement in late-70s Britain. Idol describes the movement as a do-it-yourself, indefinable, imperfect thing. He wanted punk to be uplifting and give people inspiration.
Musically, this was a description I could get on board with. I never know what I am doing—really, I don’t—but I do it myself, anyway. I jump in and figure it out. I am inherently a fist-pumping, hair-swinging child of the 80s and 90s, and my music is never perfect. In fact, I’ve begun to think that it just might be better when it’s not perfect.
But I have a very hard time accepting imperfection in my parenting. I see other moms and dads, and I get an inner monologue going in which I’m convinced they have it more figured out than I do. Their kids have cooler monogrammed backpacks. And cleaner faces. And brushed hair and healthier diets and read all the time and get more help with homework. I can beat myself up like crazy, constantly analyzing whether I am doing things right, whether I am screwing up my kids and what will the other parents think?
As a divorced parent of my older daughter, this especially hits home, when internal judgments and perceived assumptions get the best of me. I know it’s not ideal for her to have two homes. She even tells me that she doesn’t like it and wishes it were different. I don’t know how to answer her, and I know there’s no way to make it right. She’s never going to have that nuclear family. Her life will always be a little different, and I will always feel guilty for that.
But since reading Idol’s book, I have begun an attempt to put a punk attitude in place with my parenting. The music-imperfection-acceptance thing didn’t happen overnight; I had to work at it—hard. So I have to work at this, too.
Deep down, I know that no parent is perfect. I have enough experience to know that no one gets it right all the time. No one. We have to know that that’s part of it. We have to know that this is normal, that we make mistakes. We just have to do it ourselves, figure it out and stay focused on trying to be better and more loving and more present. And we have to laugh.
This Mother’s Day, let’s all choose to go punk. Our imperfection is our perfection, together. It’s perfect to laugh and make mistakes. It’s perfect to mess up and make messes. It’s perfect to know we can do better next time. It’s perfect to learn.
So turn on The Clash today. And as you turn it up a little louder than usual, and your kids roll their eyes, remember… You are punk, mom. You are punk, dad. And that’s cool.
Amy Edwards is an Austin-based mom, musician, writer, actress and fashion victim. She is married with two girls, ages 9 and 5.