I’ve recently had to evaluate my, ahem, above-average interest in my son’s garage band and ask myself the hard question: Am I a stage mom?
A quick Google search of “stage mom” gave a glimpse of shudder-worthy listings: “15 Signs You Might Be a Stage Mom,” from Backstage.com, which included images of Voldemort and words like “restraining order,” as well as cautionary tales about Corey Feldman and JonBenet Ramsey. This was not a club in which I wanted membership.
The reason this comes up now is that my 17-year-old son and his band just performed on one of the stages at Picnic Day. It was exciting, fun and completely angst-inducing. The lead-up to their 30-minute gig last Saturday shaved off about three years of my life.
A little back story — my son and five of his friends formed a band in their freshman year. Now late into their junior year, they’ve done a couple of live performances, and they’ve said they wanted to push themselves to do more. But there are no pushers in this group … either politeness or Newton’s First Law (ooh, “Objects at Rest” would make a great band name!) or plain old disinterest kept anyone from taking the lead.
After rehearsals when they sounded so good, I’d ask my son if the band had plans to play somewhere. He’d respond, “I hope so.” I’d gently put forth a follow-up question — “When? Where?”— to which he’d say, “I don’t know.”
I swear this next part is true … one of the band members approached me and asked me to be their manager since none of them had the inclination to take the lead. My son made it clear that this was not gonna happen, which I completely respected. And honestly, I didn’t want to be involved, but I did want to help if they needed.
So as I nudged them toward filling out an application to perform at Picnic Day — and “nudging” meant I filled it out and submitted it for them — I had confidence I could step back while they’d do the rest.
However, a couple of weeks after the band had been chosen to play, my son casually informed me that their lead singer was going to Ashland, Ore., for the Shakespeare festival the same weekend as Picnic Day. I followed my son’s nonchalance-y lead and said, “Hmm, what are you guys going to do?”
You know what comes next. They tried to find another singer — turns out, lots of singing teens would be in Ashland that weekend — but to my adult eyes, they weren’t trying hard enough. Every couple of days I would ask my son about their quest, to which he’d respond with annoyance, “We’re trying!”
He got really, really bothered by my queries, but I was so nervous for them as the clock kept ticking toward Picnic Day. It seemed like bad parenting to not suggest options they might not have considered. But I also try to live by a mantra that makes a lot of sense to me: You can’t be more upset about a situation than the person who is most affected by it is. And the more-affected person was pretty calm.
Cutting to the chase, they found a stand-in singer (four days before the big event — oy!) who did a good job and it all turned out fine.
But my son’s frustration with my attempts to be supportive has made me stand back and assess my stage-momming.
According to imom.com, there are five traits of stage moms:
“1. Stage moms are, at the root of it all, insecure.” Nope, that’s not my issue.
“2. Stage moms love to compare their kids to others, whatever the activity.” Uh-oh, we might be getting a little closer to my problem. If I’m being honest, I really do like comparing my kids to others, but only in my head. I try to save my bragging for their grandparents or my very closest friends.
“3. Stage moms will sacrifice other very important things, like family time, the family budget, or church attendance to pursue accolades for her kids.” We sacrifice nothing important to help our kids get where they want to be.
“4. Stage moms don’t appreciate the lessons that come with losing.” Hmm, that’s a good one … Losing sucks, and it’s very painful to watch your child suffer a loss. But I can say with total confidence that both my kids have had plenty of chances to learn from losing, and my husband and I didn’t intervene or fight their battles
“5. Stage moms occasionally live in the past.” Not me … I much prefer today to yesterday.
Overall, I think I deserve a B+ in not being too stage-momesque. My kids might give me a lower grade, but I’m confident they’re not going to be filing for a restraining order anytime soon.
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other Wednesday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya