The Legend of the Village

The Phenomenon of a Family

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“So, when your husband makes it big you are going to move to Cali with him and live the good life, right?”

Nope.

“Really? You don’t want to travel the world with your husband, take the kids and experience it all? They would have an awesome childhood.”

To this I have a few short answers, one being how this Midwest farm gal would most definitely not fit (nor want to) into the west coast. The image I get when I think of California is a blonde, organic, health conscious, tan nightmare. No thanks.

On top of that, the rest of my Midwest, chubby, brunette, vitamin D deficient crew is right here. Which brings me to my most important reason for not going with the husband when he travels. My umbilical cord doesn’t stretch that far.

The pros well outweigh the cons of leaving to go anywhere. No matter how much money or warm weather there is. We want to best for our children, and by best, I mean the most normal, simple, basic, boring love filled life we can provide.

That is hard enough a task with a father as a musician and a spazzy mother. We don’t want to make this any harder on them. Its already unfortunate they are going to realize one day I have been writing about all their personal secrets for the world to see. We will cross that bridge soon enough; teen angst is right around the corner.

We live in walking distance to both of our parents, we are surrounded by amazing family, our village is here, why would we move from that? Nothing beats knowing my children can feel secure, and uprooting them would take all that away.

I don’t want to raise my children on the road. First off, the idea of that being even possible with a husband in a band is laughable. A common misconception that each band member would get a big fancy tour bus for their family, that we could all live in one happy, traveling commune. That really isn’t how that works.

I have the security of knowing wherever the music takes the husband, his heart will be here, with the kids and me. We have made it very much known that we will not ever leave our beautiful little town. Our roots have grown too deep, long before we were even here, to be plucked up and moved.

It takes a village to raise a family, it takes a village to keep a band family going. We have the most amazing support system surrounding us. Our freakishly large and close families make that possible.

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This is only one small part of the one side of our family…
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and here is my side. like I said, we are all one big, freakishly large and close family.

It is hard enough to have a husband that is away a lot and the only way we have made it this far is with the help of all the surrounding love. When we juggle work, kids, activities, little tours, gigs, and much more.  We have had to lean on grandparents, aunts, and uncles and lots of cousins.

It seems an inconvenience, but this is what family does. It’s not just the babysitting either, it’s the gatherings when The Husband is away, it’s the moral support through the good and bad, it’s having someone to tag along with shopping trips, or possibly just let your hair down and tip the cup up at the end of a hard week. We never feel lonely when family is near.

A hug, a smile, understanding, some coffee, lots of booze, laughs, a suck it up buttercup speech… if you don’t have it yet find your village, find your common place, find people to uplift you and keep you going when life can feel like too much.

Your village will be part of your survival, like I have said about finding your girls, find your village, also. They will get you through some crazy ass busy times in your life. Love them, treat them well, nurture the village you are part of because if it’s a good village it will be the glue that keeps you all together, even when you feel like you are falling apart.  They may not all understand exactly what you are going through as a band wife, but they know you and know what you need.

 

Dress Code

Wearing Your Band Shirt

If anyone sees me in the same t-shirt every time they run into me, you know, the one with the band logo on the front, don’t be concerned, I do keep up on the laundry and I can afford clothing. I promise you, it at least smells fresh every time I put it on. In all honesty, even though it looks like I am wearing the same damn shirt all the time, it’s just that I have an unlimited supply, I do have more than one of the same shirt. They just happen to be all from the same band. Conveniently, the band I am married to.

My last count was five: pink, white, and three blacks. I am literally a walking billboard. In my defense, they are so comfy, and I can get as many as I like (not really, like I said before, band wives still pay) but they are there, so I buy them, and wear them, everywhere.  As do the kids, and the husband. We might as well get our family pictures in them. Sometimes we will all walk out of our bedrooms and it’s a new episode of bitch stole my look.

The son and I matched at his junior high orientation. He loved that! He is always ready to support the band, not so much with matching his Mamma. I told him I wasn’t changing, though, I was too comfortable at that point and that would have taken too much energy. He wasn’t changing, either, because he wanted to wear it for his school picture, starting his junior high years off on the right foot. We walked into that high school slow-mo style, made sure we were known. Flying our colors high.

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The kid found his locker, I think surviving the high school will be a breeze for this little bad ass.

I was probably feeling a little cooler than he was, or cooler than he thought I was.

Sometimes I plan this look, if we are going somewhere new where I can spread the word, I don’t ever mind a shameless plug. Vacations are a great time to plan some band t-shirt wear, not only for the husband’s band but other locals I love. You’d be surprised at how many people have stopped me (or another fan) to comment on a band shirt. Then, once a person sees something they like, they usually will Google it. Spread their names far and wide, I say.

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Onward, children, we have a band to promote and mountains to do so!

Sometimes the band t shirt is because I am too lazy to put on anything nice, and like I said, these shirts are so comfy and I really like the fit. I make anything look good, so I can get away with wearing band shirts every day.

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They are great for just cleaning the house, having mental break downs, and self medicated-ice cream-life breaks.

I do have a rule to wearing my shirts to shows, though. I don’t wear the band shirt to local shows, unless it’s a competition type show. You see, a show is a night out for this girl, and this girl likes to look good occasionally. Cute top, cute jeans, cute boots. If the show is local enough where everyone already knows their name I don’t need to go full support. They got that covered.

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There is enough merch to promote themselves, they don’t need me to sport a shirt all the time, and seriously, a girl needs variety!

I will, however, wear the band shirt if the show is farther down the road. They are a little unheard of, or a competition type of show where your support is vital, where their name and logo are a force that needs to be reckoned with. That is when the shirt, the wrist bands, the whole uniform comes out. Because, we gotta represent.

Band shirts are not just a way to express yourself with the music you love, but also a way to support your favorites. Purchasing one also is helpful to the bands account (trust me, merch can be a bands life line sometimes). General rules of band shirts are: buy it because you love the band, wear it because you look good in it, and always express yourself with the music you love.

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It was a hot day on the deck with the fam (isn’t she a doll?), always express yourself, and keep cool!

 

And maybe pack a few the next time you go on a trip.

Living Fearlessly

When tragedy strikes

I got a glimpse of it on the news, when turning my laptop on and getting my hustle ready for work that morning. I only heard about it through talk throughout work that day, and I hadn’t realized the severity of it all until I got home that afternoon.  Then it hit me, watching the videos, the news reports, and the posts. The same feeling I got with the attacks of September 11th years back and columbine years before that, and so on and so forth.

Again, the world stopped and our hearts shattered, no one doesn’t feel it. The wave of odd emotion, humanistic urge to mourn for those we don’t even know. To feel fear, anger, sorrow, and confusion for a situation that isn’t anywhere near you.

I felt it all, relief, followed by guilt that we were the lucky ones who hadn’t felt worse. My family is still here, we are all safe.

And the questions flooded. How could this happen? How will these people ever go on with their lives? How do I explain this to my children? How do we step foot out our doors in the morning feeling security of the world around us?

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Time keeps moving but it seems to stop on days like these.

It is a terrifying world we live in and getting scarier by the day. Knowing that my husband gets on that stage, just like the ones at the harvest festival in Las Vegas or Arianna Grande in Manchester and many other concerts that have been targeted, is terrifying still. The only thing that can give me peace is the thought that he works on a much smaller scale, for now.

We shouldn’t have to fear a concert. A large group of people coming together for their shared love of music shouldn’t be an invitation for the insane, but a place of harmony. I shouldn’t fear for my husband, or worry if I should take my children to see him play in case someone picks that venue to take their anger and hate out on.

Music should always be a place of peace, a place in time where we can connect, let go of our frustrations, our fears, take a moment to step out of our heads and enjoy. It is devastating to think that we can no longer fully enjoy the heart and soul of what makes us all flow.

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Music should always bring us comfort, it should be home to where we can gather and enjoy. 

My heart goes out to all the families of the victims, and to the musicians, I am sure they carry their share of grief after such a horrific event. No one should fear sharing something they love, but we do, every day. Marathons, festivals, rallies, and so on. We, as humans gather to share, to comfort, to love, and to enjoy.

How do we keep going after so many hits we take as humans? Life is so fragile. Isn’t there a way we can wrap it up and put it up somewhere safe, so it doesn’t break anymore?

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There really isn’t. We can stay safely in our homes, keep hidden from all the scary pieces of the world out there, tucked away safely where no one will hurt us. But that is not life, there is no living in that.

After the many, many thoughts, prayers, tears, and hugs that day, I swore, as I have done many times before, that I will not let fear keep me from sharing what I love. As we have all done in the past, dust ourselves off and go back in.

We risk our lives every morning when we wake up and our feet touch the floor. We also prove to the world that we could survive another day when our feet hit that floor. We shout it from the rooftops every day our eyes open, we will not be afraid!

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This will not stop us from concerts, from running, from music. From love. From gathering, and sharing, spreading our love. Hold tight, my friends, the storm is not over, but we can weather it well, together.

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Battle of the Sexes

The complicated puzzle that is a relationship

What a shit storm this past week has been, the week before school starts for our fifth grader, last year for us in the elementary, sad. The sixth grader has his first year in the high school, so bittersweet.

I have been to open houses, and registration nights, and oh, dance class started also. There has been welcome back picnics, and hair appointments, and back to school shopping, which I like to wait until the day before to scrounge around in a panic to try and get everything ready. It keeps us all on our toes.

Of course, as with most big, strung out weeks, cram packed with all the crap I cannot avoid as a parent, The Husband’s was just as packed with band adventures (it’s like he plans it that way). The latest being a gargantuan of a mobile they planned on cruising around in that weekend, that had a list twice as long as mine to fix before they could get it on the road.

So, on my free nights (because I get a lot of those, right?) my only choice was to help out or be left behind and I didn’t want to spend another evening alone. Which meant, the only night or so I had available was with a paint brush and tape. Trying not to lose my damn mind with my two precious pre-teen and pre-angst angels that were trying their hardest to “help”.

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One part of my bickering angsty clan that was trying their best to drive me absolutely insane while the guys were practicing. I was putting myself in some compromising positions, there is a lot of nooks and cranny’s to a campers interior.

I was exhausted, frustrated, over worked, stressed out and wanted to blow up. I was tired of having to do it all alone, I was sick of being put second, and I wanted to send the worst shit text to The Husband, but I stopped and remembered that this was my choice.  I chose to be with a musician, and that comes with its share of carrying the load so he can travel, play, and record.

Is this fair? No, hell no, and you feel it. The pressure of knowing you’re doing it alone. It was a choice I made when we started dating, a choice consciously made when we got married, and a choice that I knew full well what I was getting into when we had children.

It was a choice we made together, and as much as I wanted to scream and yell, I knew it wouldn’t do any good, they already planned the weekend gig, they were already packing to go. It was pointless, so I took a deep breath and I texted him. I told him I loved him and missed him a lot.

And you know what? He missed me too, he was feeling it too. We live together and barley see each other during these times. It doesn’t just affect me, he is in this too, but this is his life. He could walk away, but neither of us want that for him. For us.

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Sometimes we do get to spend time together. I love watching him do his thing and that makes it all worth it.

The main thing that softened the blow and warmed my heart this past week also, was throughout the chaos of it all was that he was adamant about making sure he was there to take our son to pick out his first instrument for sixth grade band. He wanted to share that moment with him, and I understood that he can’t do all of it, but he tries his hardest to be there for the moments that most count.

In our many years of all our trials I have observed that most men want support, and most women want reassurance. And that there isn’t too much of a difference in these two marital securities. Men want to know that at the end of the day, they have someone cheering them on. When I first approached this theory, I thought it literally meant be his cheerleader.

Ok, I cheered in high school, I can do this. And I texted him throughout the day with “I am so proud of you” and “I appreciate everything you do” until he asked me to stop. That wasn’t what he wanted and let’s be honest it can make the best attention whore feel uncomfortable.

After stepping back and reevaluating I realized one thing in all the books I have read and seminars I have taking about the male/female brain (my work in early childhood education has given me a lot of time to study brain development, and I totally nerd out on it), is that men are doers, they don’t need to be showered with words and affection. They need a foot rub, or joining in on their most favorite activity. In our case, going to see them play, helping set up the merch table, understanding that what they do is hard on them also.

Women need words, we like to talk, talk about our day, talk about our feelings, talk about every aspect of our lives and how they work and who is where and why we are mad and so on and so on and so on…  we like to listen too, we want to understand and be understood. That is what makes a relationship tick for us.

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Let’s face it, males and females don’t necessarily fit, that is why it takes work, support, and dedication.

What we all want is companion, and what we get is confusion. You see, the battle of the sexes is real. Misunderstanding of what each other needs is the struggle, but if we remember to work together, our love becomes easier when we remember we are on the same team.

 

 

 

Dropping it Like it’s Hot

and other wisdoms I have learned in my thirties

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It’s my birthday month! I am not super into my birthday, at this age it’s like, whatever. There is something about waking up that morning, though, you still get that warm fuzzy feeling left over from your childhood. The “it’s my birthday” feeling. Then knowing (or hoping) your husband will roll over and wish you a happy birthday, or you go downstairs and your children will remember, or that text from your mom, and anticipating all the Facebook wishes. It always feels good, to know you’re remembered, especially when you are the absolute worst at giving out birthday wishes (guilty).

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With my two most excellent sisters who threw me the best Gatsby (30th) birthday a girl could ask for! 

I think it is safe to say I am officially into my mid-thirties… no significant number but ebbing in at the mids for sure. OK, I am thirty-four, but seriously, I don’t care. There is no shame in my age game. I am not a ‘still twenty-nine’ gal, I wear my thirties like a badge of honor. Everyone should! It is a beautiful decade from what I have seen of it so far. Thirty and flirty is true, flirt with life in your thirties, you should, you deserve it, you made it through your twenties.

Your twenties suck, let’s be honest. Sure, you’re having fun, you still have your friends and have energy to go drop it like it’s hot, but I like to describe your twenties like the junior high of your adulthood. You think your top shit, just out of elementary, a bad ass adult, but your awkward, and you don’t know what you want out of life nor do you know what life wants out of you. You don’t see it until you hit thirty then you look back and realize you were awkward, you didn’t know what you were doing, and you made a lot of mistakes. At least this was my experience.

You will keep making mistakes, don’t get me wrong, but you will just be a little less awkward at it in your thirties. My experience is a little different being that I started as a younger mom, so during my awkward, uncomfortable, middle school stage of adulting I threw in parenting, which makes you question even being a functioning human being all together. But I survived and got out alive, children still intact, and The Husband and I just barely holding on and white knuckling through the twenties.

Now in my thirties, I have been on this ride a few times, we have visited the proverbial Cedar Point quite a lot and even though the rides are always fun, we know most (MOST, we are still talking about life here) of the dips and turns, or at least which way to lean when you see them coming up around the bend and when to pose for the camera as your flying by. So, I thought, with all my wisdom in my old age I would pass on some of the most important things I have learned in my thirties to you.

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Sharing my womanly wisdom with all of you. You can thank me later. 

The most important is that you can still drop it like it’s hot past thirty, it just might not be as easy to bring it back up. I promise you, though, you will still look as good doing it as you did in your twenties. The best part about this is that in your thirties you stop caring so much about how good you look doing it, it’s fun and you don’t give a shit anymore.

Speaking of dropping it like it’s hot: this one is dropping it to a more serious note. Learn to wear your heart on your sleeve. I spent most of my twenties being emotionally constipated. I always watched what I said on social media because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy, or too loving, or that I had feelings. I never wanted to show any PDA because I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable, nor did I ever want ANYONE to see me cry. Heaven forbid I have emotions.

Now, I have realized that, well, once again, I don’t care anymore. If I love someone, or appreciate them, I am going to let them know. If I am sad I am going to cry. If I am happy I am going to cry. If I really like a song on the radio I am probably going to cry (you cry a lot in your thirties, but its good cries). I laugh harder, I hug tighter, and yes, I post all my emotions online and stopped giving a flying flit. And you know what? I am happier, and I think everyone around me likes me more.

Next: it is not selfish to take time to yourself, it is not selfish to put your husband before your children, it is not selfish to not be completely involved in every aspect of your child’s life. You are not a bad mom for saying “I am not signing you up for football because I don’t want to do it”. They are ten, you are the adult. They will not hate you forever and they will probably love you more when you are not completely burnt out and able to enjoy them instead of zombie-ing your way through their childhood, grumbling as you drive them from activity to activity.

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Just say no! 

Tell your children no, hell, tell others no also. Be honest with everyone but be more honest with yourself. If you just don’t want to do it, say that. You can say no, save yourself sanity, and go get a fabulously guilt free massage instead (this happens to be The Husband and my favorite place to go, if you are in the mid-Michigan area). It won’t make you any less of the fabulous thirty-year-old you are, and you are fabulous at thirty, so treat yo’ self, and just say no once in a while.

Lastly and more of being honest with yourself: Are you really ever going to have that bikini body? Does it really matter anymore? No! Are you happy and healthy? Because in your thirties, you don’t care anymore. I was always so worried about plucking, exfoliating, polishing, pulling, tucking, moisturizing, calorie counting, exercising, and covering everything up. Guess what? I don’t care anymore, and it feels amazing!

The only thing I am mad about now is all the time and energy I wasted on worrying about my outters when I should have been focused on my inners. I love every ripple, lump, and jiggle my body has. Every wrinkle and grey hair tells the story of how I have lived, laughed, and loved, and I don’t take an inch of that for granted.

So, remember to wear your thirties with pride, don’t hide your age. Be proud of how far you’ve come, how much you have learned, and how awesome you are!

 

The Dynasty of Music

How my grandfather inadvertently is the reason my husband plays.

We are going to have a little history lesson today, because I LOVE history, and this is a cool story about The Husband and my families. The Husband and I grew up together in a very small town, the same little farming town both of our grandparents grew up in, and our great grandparents, and so on. We went to school together, the same school our families attended. Our families even had farms right down the road from each other. We have some very deep roots here in our lovely rural mid-Michigan village, and that is where our rockin’ story begins.

As I mentioned back in my first blog, my grandpa played an upright bass in a western swing band throughout the ‘50’s and 60’s. I, unfortunately, never got the chance to hear him play it. I only saw this larger than life beast of an instrument and an old black and white picture sitting on a small table next to it. The fiddle was always tucked behind a bed in the upstairs of the old farm house, covered under an old sheet. As a child, my cousins and I would sneak over and peak at it, plucking the thick strings quietly, letting off its thunderous tones. Fortunately, the rest of our big, Irish catholic family was being naturally too loud downstairs to hear us messing with Grandpas fiddle. It still sits in the upstairs of that old farm house, now occupied by my parents, it seems the only place it should live, relocating it just doesn’t seem right. It’s a bit more weathered these days, but a beautiful steadfast remembrance of my childhood memories and my grandfather. With the exception of my Grandmother talking about her “band wife” experiences (which are much different from the 2017 version I am living) I don’t remember much of anyone talking a whole lot about it, how he came about playing, or anyone else in the band. So, this is where the story begins for me, my grandfather and his big upright fiddle.

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My Grandfather and his big, beautiful bass. I wish I could have be able to watch him play.

I do know, after some fishing, the band played at town halls, old stages, and barn dances across rural mid-Michigan. One being a barn down the road, a family close with ours, the same family in which I would one day, far in the future, be deeply and legally (maritally) tied to. Where my future father-in-law (just a child at this part of the story) saw him play. He says my Grandpa was amazing. “I love watching those guys play, but especially the way your Grandpa hammered on those strings of that big bass.” He told me.  This inspired my father-in-law to try out the bass, as a teenager in the 60’s western swing would not have been a sound music choice, nor would an upright bass, so he went with the electric bass. He still plays to this day, he played in some great local cover bands. His lovely wife, my mother-in-law, even sang for them and played a little percussion. One of my childhood memories of my father in-laws band playing was at our towns (something)centennial celebration, right in the saw mill that sits next to our home now, the home my husband grew up in, and his father before him (roots, people, lots of roots here). I am sure the little boy, my future husband, was running around somewhere as well. As a teenager, they would play at my uncles annual Halloween bash, at this point the future husband was most definitely there, sneaking out back with the other group of teenagers (which included me) to get into teenage trouble, it’s all laughable now, but then I was only a starry-eyed teenager, pining for his attention, trying my hardest to act cooler than I really was. Thank dear, sweet, baby Jesus he actually finds my awkward, straight laced personality somewhat charming and irresistible… I think.

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My father-in-law and his bass. His archives for music is pretty amazing. He’s like the encyclopedia of classic rock.

Before that, though, there was that little boy (one of six), who watched mother and father on the stage with the same inspiration his father had as a child watching my grandpa. With a little guidance from his dad he taught himself to play bass, and with each ‘generation’ they take the music a little further. It now melts my heart to see our son watch him play, and practice with his dad. I wonder if he will follow through, if our son will take the music even further than his most talented father has. It also warms my heart to think that my grandfather is, inadvertently, the reason my husband now plays bass. Sure, it was his own hard work and dedication, it was his father’s own ambitions, but along the line, my grandfather was an inspiration. Our roots run so very deep, an intertwine in a dance that has been written for us in a way that amazes me every day. My husband has almost been chosen for me, but I am getting away from the coolest part of our love story. Of the very beginning of The Husbands journey to music love, a story that keeps writing itself.

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And finally, The husband and his bass. Always learning, always challenging himself… and, I mean, damn, I am pretty lucky!

Find Your People

The female strength is in numbers.

We tried and tried to get off the couch, we planned, we gave ourselves five more minutes, put away our phones, yet here we still sit. The Husband in the pocket, me, my lap top, typing away. It has definitely been a Sunday. We will take to kids to the park for our bike rides and swimming and grilling, but for now we sit, we absorb the busy weekend and create. The kids are now patiently going from video games, to toys, food, tv, more food… why are they always so hungry??? We sit here half way between sleep and creativity. I guess everyone needs that day of rest, that time to unload, and use our outlet. That day is going to be this particular Sunday. I sit here listening to the deep click-clacks of his bass over the radio and reflect on this weekend.

It was an amazing weekend, full of friends and family. The band families came over for a cook out and fire last night (our lives revolve around food and drinks, a necessity at every gathering). It was fun, there was a lot of laughs, and good conversation while all the children and dogs ran around. The radio was cranked, pounds of meat coking over the fire, instruments were out and ideas passed around. The good band family is definitely one to keep if you find it. I love gatherings of great minds and strong hearts, I think that would, at the least, describe all the people in our lives. It is important for bandmates to be close, for obvious reasons (they are practically living together at points). Beyond that, though, their loved ones as well. Band wives see each other a lot: gigs, practices, hangouts. We stop by to pick something up, drop something off, you will get to know each other’s children and the group in whole. They can become your closest support system, nobody will know better what you are going through than a band wife and more than that a band wife from the same band. These gals are so great and strong in my opinion, we are all from different walks, taking different steps, with completely different personalities but we all share one fact, our loves have been brought together to create, and we all have to deal with the chaos that follows. The band family usually extends from immediate family. I have gotten to know parents, siblings, friends, and roommates. It takes a village to raise a band, to support them, to keep them up and running. And I know that this band is in the depths of a great village.

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My people: Band wives go through a lot, why not stick it out together. Excuse the boys in the back, apparently musicians can never get in enough pictures. 

It also takes a village to help with the stress of having a very busy other half that is running all the time, between practices, gigs, travel time, late night focusing and early mornings rising (because music doesn’t always pay the bills and most of these guys are juggling a nine to five along with everything else). When you are the half at home, it can get just as tiring, and we need as much support as we can get. Even if it’s a quick bitch fest in the parking lot before the doors open at a show, one of those rare occasions where all the ladies were able to get together, sans kids and musicians. These are the people you surround yourself with when in this situation. The band family is important, and having an amazing group of girls you can gossip, complain, laugh and relate to is much of a necessity. I like to think we hit the jackpot with the band family, our kids all like getting together, we all get along, and sometimes fireworks (literally) happen. I think my best advice as a band wife would have to be find other band wives. Because even though family is awesome, a lot of times they don’t always understand the ridiculousness we deal with and finding people to relate to is a human need. Like every walk of life, find your people, keep them close, they can become vital to your well-being.