As far back as I can remember, my mom and I have had a special bond. During high school when high school drama reared its ugly head, my mom and I became close. Like Lorelai/Rory levels of close. Now we tell each other everything. Well, maybe not everything. (There are some kid things that you still hide from your parents, you know?) And ever since then it’s been easy for me and everyone else in my life to point out all the ways I’m similar to my mother.
For starters, we share the same hatred of what we like to call “organized group activities.” We mock baby showers and turn our noses up at college welcome weekends because no one has time for that crap. We share similar tastes in cars and desserts. We take pride in our education and both read constantly. We also have the same colored eyes, if that counts for anything.
We also disagree upon a lot of major things. I get angry when she doesn’t go to the doctor and works far too hard at her job. She gets angry about my taste in men and my tendency to wear Converse to family events.
The best thing I got from my mother, however, is a love of music. When I was little, my mom’s vast collection of CDs and records were fascinating to me. How had she gathered them all? I thought she was the coolest person in the world. I still do.
But that music collection came with one catch, as did having extremely strict, Catholic parents: My mom never let me listen to Britney Spears when I was little. Everybody at school loved her and were going to her concerts, but my mom shielded me from her and her famous belly button because she was worried that I would later become a woman with loose morals. Instead, she handed me her Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Feetwood Mac, and Elton John albums and simply told me, “Here, these are better.”
Suddenly, I was let into my mother’s world. I was listing to the music that made her seem so mysterious to me. At the time, I was still upset that she wouldn’t let me listen to the great pop re-imagining of 1999 (and I still tell her that Aerosmith could have done the same damage on me as Britney), but what she did give me was a sense of cool.
No matter where I’ve been in my life, my obsession over rock music has what’s made me seem cool to other people. It’s been something I can talk about with others. When I started my new job in the spring, my coworkers seemed to think I was some badass alien in blonde hair-blue eyed form that wrote killer press releases during the week and frequented hipster bars on weekends (which I sometimes do).
I owe my persona to my mom. She can’t get mad at me now when I wear band shirts to Christmas dinner because she solidified my fashion when she forced Bad Company upon me. I also blame my empty pockets on her, because I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on concert tickets this summer alone.
This past week my mom came to visit me in Des Moines to see one of our very favorite bands, Heart. I bought the tickets, a treat I’ve been waiting to give her for a long time. After all the years of her buying me Bon Jovi tickets for my birthdays, I was finally able to give back the favor. Now, we had to sit through Cheap Trick as an opener (the second time we’ve suffered through them as an opener, actually), and had to watch Joan Jett, who was just OK (I’m more of a Runaways fan myself), but when Ann and Nancy finally came onstage, everything felt right with the world.
My mom made me listen to Heart when I was a kid not just because it was good music, but because it was a band run by two strong, extremely talented women. And Ann and Nancy Wilson always reminded me of my mother. They were smart, they wrote good music, they were beautiful, and they never let men stand in their way. They were their own trend setters. And my mom always taught me to do the same.
Rock music is one of my favorite things, and if my mom hadn’t forced me to love it all those years ago I wouldn’t be the me of today. Just another thing she can hold over me for the rest of my life, like mothers do.