Just starting out
Wason will be the first to tell you that becoming a parent, along with music, is what helped her get her life together.
“I think it makes me a better person than I was before. I used to be more self-involved . . . I have a chance to give (my kids) the things I didn’t have when I was a kid. I pay attention to them, try to keep them involved and interested in the state of our lives. I give them some boundaries and some footholds to work with, which I couldn’t have done (earlier).”
Wason is the kind of single mom whom we love to romanticize for seemingly always having the right kind of advice, and never thinking to overpower her girls’ exploring opinions with her own. She has found a balance of being true to her rock and roll nature while making delicious sit-down meals and, oh my gosh, relating to her children, with surprisingly limited outbursts of her own.
Her panacea is simple: music makes a good mom. “It’s nice having an outlet for my emotional overflow; no one gets the claws out of the blue, because I’m not emotionally constipated. All my frustrations and anxieties go into the riffs and onto the records.”
The world would be a better place if we all put our frustrations into our Fenders rather than our families. Adina Barnett, mother of two teenage daughters and drummer for Batshelter, succinctly says: “Banging on drums gives me more energy and patience for parenting.”
Beats the recurrent parental desire to bang your head against a wall.
Tarkinson and her husband sing their two children (both under six) to sleep every night. This pint-sized blonde jumping bean has her hands in many magic Portland honey pots: jewelry collaged from various decades, lovingly stitched leather bags, and two amazingly listenable albums. She unmistakably links the realms of her parenthood to her music with the album, Maproom, she created during her two pregnancies (her children are now 2 and 5 and a half).
“When I got pregnant with my children, I went on an artistic bender!” she recalls. “I couldn’t stop creating even if I wanted to. I was like, ‘I have to do this before it’s all over!’ literally recording in a warehouse with the band, and getting calls from my husband, like, ‘Time to feed the baby!” and I’d go home — all swollen — feed my kid, and then go back to the warehouse to record at 1 am. Then I did it again for my second.”
The feverish creation of children and music is so indicative of the way things are, day to day, in a Rock Mom household. When time is in short supply from chasing after toddlers, Tarkinson’s guitar is in hand to play her own versions of her children’s favorite songs. And they now sing Maproom songs, learned in the womb no less, back to her — in harmony.
Finding their feet
This kind of touching mimicry makes for hip kids in the case of Colleen Kinsella, creator of layered, stained, and haunting art — and music with her bands Big Blood, Dark Urru, Fire on Fire, and her solo title, Asian Mae. Her Joan Jett-loving 4-year-old’s favorite “pretend” game is not tea parties, but Band Practice. “She likes a microphone through an amp with delay, a drum, and a few friends to boss around . . . She (also) likes any and all “projects” from bean gluing to cake baking,” says Kinsella. You wanna play princess? How about Queen?