Moms rock!

By DENA RIEGEL  |  May 5, 2010

“It was my connection to the grown-up brain. I might have written different songs, if I didn’t have kids.” Her family often inspires her lyrics, like the sound-hug “Green Apple.” There are instruments lying around the Cox household as an invitation to play, and the house is a wall of sound for much of the day. What started out as a respite from baby-talk turned into a family passion, nothing short of Partridge Family levels. Cox’s children think a recording studio in the home is an average home necessity — like a bathroom. Everybody has a recording studio, right? Whether it’s hearing a child’s piano rendition of “Hot Crossed Buns” morph into “Smoke on the Water,” or playing for her daughter’s pre-school and giving a lesson to 4-year-olds on “how to play a gig,” Cox’s family does things a bit differently than simply watching prime time.

Growing into themselves
If deciding to live the life of a Rock Mom means nimbly avoiding the “boring-parent trap,” it leads to some interesting encounters with those who haven’t found the time for art in their lives — yet. When some neighboring parents found out that Cox was a musician, they were “really surprised and therefore kind of distanced . . . then they got my CD, and they really didn’t know how to be around me . . . There’s a weird celebrity thing . . . We don’t really have it in common, so it creates a funny space when really I just want to compare toddler tantrums.” It needs to be said that Rock Moms openly admitted to being pleasantly surprised at soccer games and birthday parties when a parent who seemed “trapped” turned out to be a creative force in a square’s clothing.

We could call it discrimination, on both side of things. But it’s really something else. Most people go through life attempting, at high costs, not to be vulnerable. Musician/artists invite others to experience their vulnerability, with lyrics and insecurities in plain sight and very open to criticism. That is the choice of the Mom Rocker. The tension, or just discomfort, that comes from parents who perhaps don’t allow themselves creative expression, is that many people would never, ever, want to be as vulnerable as a musician. It’s as if they’ve walked in on you shaving your legs: the private life in the public sphere is unsettling to some. But that’s plain inspiration to Rock Moms.

Rock Momdom would be accessible to more mothers if they ran with creative opportunities as they surfaced. Music and other creative endeavors pass many mothers by because they often think there is only one dream for them out there. They think “I don’t have time to be artistic!” because maybe they are still thinking of the Glam Band they never formed when they were 22; that dream doesn’t fit very well with a pack-lunch/yoga/work/soccer/ballet/dinner/pass-out kind of day. But creativity doesn’t care what worked for you when you were 22. If a different dream comes along, you need to recognize it. An evolved dream isn’t “giving up;” dreams change and passions can find a different form, as happened with Lisa Van Oostrum, creator of OmniRocks Records and a member of the Portland Music Foundation. She calls her shift from performer to manager “not fighting against creative urges.”

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