Band of Mothers

As frazzled middle-aged Dallas moms, my friends and I needed a new lease on life. So we decided to make some noise.

by Suzie Riddle

AFTER I HAD MY THIRD CHILD, seven years ago, I looked in the mirror and I just couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden I was shopping in the plus-size section of the store. It was really depressing. I felt like my whole life had been sucked away, and every bit of dignity I ever thought I had was gone. Moms in this country are doing this impossible task of working, raising children, running a home. There’s not even time to reflect on how busy you are.

I had played the drums a little bit just for fun back in college, but I’d gotten rid of my set when I had my first child. I think it was taking up too much room. Then, probably ten years later, one of my neighbors was driving by with a set in the back of his truck. I just had this feeling—I’m not sure why—that he didn’t want it. I had already had this idea to start a rock band of all women my age, and so once I had the drums, I thought, “Well, I can do this for my fortieth birthday party,” which was six months away. I started asking everybody I could think of, “Do you play an instrument? I want to start a band! I want to start a band!” Soon I had a friend who played guitar, and I had a keyboard player, but I couldn’t find anyone who knew how to play bass. So I asked my friend Lucy if she would learn how to play. I mean, it would only be a few notes, but that was all we needed.

We called the band Frump, and when we first started, I told everybody, “Look, I did this before when I was in college. How hard can it be?” We made some music, and it wasn’t very good, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were having a good time and that we did it. By my birthday party, in August 2001, we knew five songs. One of them was called “We’re Really Beat,” which was a parody of the Go-Go’s song “We Got the Beat,” about being a mom and being exhausted. We also played “Suzy Is a Headbanger,” by the Ramones.

I guess we had such a great time that we’re still doing it. Since we started, we’ve found out about a few other all-mom bands around the country. We’re going to play with some of them at the Mamapalooza festival in New York in May. We also played during South by Southwest. We’ve played a few clubs in the past, but most of our shows are in the daytime. Our friends show up with their kids, and then we get a lot of other middle-aged people, both men and women, who just kind of get a kick out of the fact that we’re doing this.

Frump is my way of saying that this is something that’s important to me. I really loved banging my drums and making a lot of noise when I was younger, but nobody knew that side of my personality. I’d always tried to be this nice, sweet librarian. Since we started the band, I’ve really blossomed. I’ve started taking care of myself more and doing my hair and my nails and things that just make me feel, you know, good. I think I also have a lot more confidence. Now my kids are always telling me they’re proud of me, and they think I’m cool.

It’s also a way to model for our kids that we can do anything, that women of any age can do whatever they want. I just think that women are overworked and underappreciated, and I wanted to bring attention to how crazy our lives are. I guess I’m just a mom who’s fed up, and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Loud Lives of Desperation

A crash course in Mom Rock, from Texas to New York.

Band: Frump
Home Base: Dallas
Sample Rant: “I’m not gonna tell you again, and then I’ll count to three / I’m starting to lose my tenuous grip on my sanity.”—from “Pick Up Your Socks”

Band: The Mydols
Home Base: Detroit
Sample Rant: “Up before dawn, out the door before six / Go to work and pick up the kids / One of these days I’m gonna flip my lid.”—from “Soccer Mom Stomp”

Band: Housewives on Prozac
Home Base: New York
Sample Rant: “I must have been mistaken / I must have been confused / I’m the queen of my kitchen late at night / Singin’ the dishwasher blues.”—from “Fuzzy Slippers”

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