Whoooo Are You?

Carla: Not so long ago, I was in my car with a male friend of mine who is about 13 years younger than I am. An Audioslave song came on the radio and I happened to know the words. This fact stunned my friend into silence.

I get than when you’re 28 a 41-year-old mom in a minivan does seem less-than-likely to be familiar with Audioslave but I was kind of stunned by how shocked he was.

Then I realized that most of the people I know these days have no clue that I have an Alice in Chains song on my iPod or that I can belt out a showtune or that I can name all the original members of Kiss or–and this is impressive–that I can recite the entire rap section of the song “Rapture” by Blondie. Not that these are signs of my coolness by any means. Rather, they are reminders–to me at least–that I am more than what people see.

This really goes back to Caryn’s book and the ways in which motherhood tends to swamp the other parts of who we are. I don’t feel like myself most days and I wonder where that other Carla went. But in those moments when she pops up and other people are surprised, I realize just how hidden she has been.

Caryn: So, of course you lost me. My brain couldn’t get past you being in the car with a 28-year-old man…. Sorry. Didn’t come back until you mentioned my book. Perhaps there’s a whole other side of you we need to talk about here. If I didn’t find the word cougar so ridiculous and offensive, I’d be doing all sorts of cougary-growly-meows right now and insinuating that’s what you might be. But I hate that word and also believe OLD women can be JUST FRIENDS with young men. Plus, we ought to address all this later.

But I do love those mom-shocking moments. Mine usually have nothing to do with music (unless it’s with someone in their 70s. I LOVE me some golden oldies!!!), but I often get those weird looks when I launch into something political or economic or social or literary or something that people think, apparently, nice little suburban moms don’t THINK about. Or, what we might laugh about.

For example, I love it that two people who work for an organization with which I have some sort of affiliation BOTH emailed me the same funny thing (without knowing that the other did it). I love that they did this because it was a risk. The funny thing would not be funny to everyone. Certainly not to the stereotype of me. But to me, it’s hilarious. I love that these people (who are also like 10-13 years younger than I) know that I have an evil, depraved sense of humor. Makes me feel known and loved. Though I would like to recapture a time of my life when I laughed more.

Carla: a) I’m flattered that you think I still have enough sex appeal to woo a 28-year-old, but honestly, can you imagine the trauma a single, childless man that age would go through seeing what childbirth does to a woman?  b) I was giving a friend from church a ride, and c) some of us are capable of being friends with men. You and your Harry-Met-Sally mentality. It’s always sex sex sex with you.

Anyway, it’s funny that for all my revolutionary ranting I still have this preconceived notion of what a mom should look like and act like and listen to. Whether it’s how we dress or what we drive or who we let ride in our cars, we tend to have this picture in our minds of what’s okay and what isn’t. But there’s no reason that raising children should suddenly put us into a whole separate category of self-expression and passion. Yes, we change and our tastes and interests change with us. And yes, I’m as appalled at a 40-year-old dressing like a teenager as the next person. I’m talking about who we were and who we still are, the secret selves we’ve either buried or forgotten about or just never show to other people.

For me, music–and I am so not a music snob or a person with cutting edge tastes in bands–is one of those things that reminds me of my inner groove. So what is it for you? What would people who know you now never guess about you? And what part of who you once were do you really want to recapture? It might be something profound, it might be something trivial. Whatever it is, we’d love to hear about it.

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