A time when I refused to ROCK and The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (a repost of a review, because it was that good)

caillou

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my sister-in-law as she picked my brain about motherhood. She’s pregnant with her first, and had just learned she was having a girl, and was wondering how it all goes. And then she made me smile. Hugely.

“I don’t think I will drink too much. I don’t want to do that around kids.”

Now, she doesn’t have to drink at all. The drinking didn’t make me smile, it’s the pre-birth decisions we all make, and then smile at 10 years later.

I did it, too. I remember being pregnant with my (now) 11 year old. I was going to be THAT perfect mom. The one who didn’t drink. The one who stayed home, and did arts and crafts, and read to my child, and listened ONLY to classical. All the time. The one who would take my child to art museums, and libraries, and classical concerts, and all the highbrow lectures I could fit in to my busy mom schedule. Between mommy and me classes and breastfeedings and making my own baby food.

Some of this happened. I did make my own baby food. I did try to breastfeed for as long as possible, but my Libby needed MORE than my rather ample breasts could produce. I read to her like crazy. I tried to do arts and crafts, but realized that I wasn’t artsy or craftsy and I did NOT like doing crafts with littles (it got more, and less, fun as she got older).  Classical concerts–not so much (a few, when they were free, at the mall, as we were shopping) and lectures–HA!!!

But the weirdest, and most distressing thing I did as a new mom was decided that moms–good moms–didn’t listen to good music. Seriously. I decided that I needed to listen to adult soft rock. Really. You know its bad when you really look forward to little kid’s music because they rock a bit. I LOVED Laurie Berkner. Not just for my girls, but because she was the best music I was allowing into my world. Justin Roberts? I had the headbanger fingers in the air. Kids Bop? Yep. Rockin’.

At some point I found my inner rocker again, my alt rock alternative inner self, and I embraced her. I rock in the van, and my girls have learned the power of really good music (classical and classic rock, hard rock and alt rock, 80’s and new wave, punk and grunge), but they don’t love it. I worry that those first three or four years harmed them. Everytime they sing to a pop song (I have to say I love Taylor Swift. She’s very catchy. And Lorde? She rocks), I think about those first few years, when they had a mom who refused to rock. Somewhere, there is that judgmental little voice (the same one that told me I shouldn’t listen to rock music as a mom) telling me that if I would have been listening to rock music during those really formative years, I would have tween girls that like good music.

Of course, it’s probably because I didn’t breastfeed them for long enough. 😉

At some point, in my life, I realized that there is one thing these ‘rock n’ roll’ moms have that I missed out on, the ability to not care if they are judged. There are so many different types of great moms out there, and the biggest lesson is to embrace who you are, and thus allowing your kids to embrace who there are. Relax, love your baby, have a glass of wine every once and awhile if thats what you want to do. Be who you are and let them be who they are. You’ll figure it out, as long as you start from a place of love.

They do love Pink (censored, of course). She’s a strong, rockin’ woman who is also a mom. There’s that, right?

And now, here’s a reprint of my review of Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl.


This is the wonderful story of Addie Baum, an 85 year-old grandmother recounting her life story to her 22 year-old granddaughter. And Addie’s story is the story of America in the 20th century.

Addie is born in 1900 to newly immigrated parents who are unsure of America. She is the youngest of three daughters, with one sister hellbent on experiencing America and the other sickly and shy, beautiful and dutiful. Addie fits somewhere in-between the two, trying to be dutiful but feeling the pull of women’s liberation and a world beyond the sweatshop.

Addie’s life begins at age 15, when she joins a neighborhood library group with women who will change the shape of Boston and Addie’s life. She learns about life, and begins to realize that her dreams of going to college may be attainable. Addie works a myriad of jobs in her life, has some incredible experiences, and watches Boston and its surrounding areas metamorphize with growth. Addie lives through World War I & II, and through disastrous love affairs and a love for the ages. She learns what it means to be Jewish and what the world holds for her.

The world changed in unimaginable ways in the 20th century, and Diamant, through Addie, does an admirable job of recounting these miracles. Addie embraces and loves the changes and the possibilities they hold, but also holds onto the traditional.

The Boston Girl is a wonderful story of a truly 20th century woman. An epic book without an epic feel. Addie is the woman we all wish we knew, and her ability to embrace life is one we hope we have instilled in our daughters.

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