I was a band geek. At least, that’s what they called it back in my high school days. On Friday nights during football season, I proudly donned a hat that made me look a lot like a human Q-tip and marched around the field at halftime with a hundred or so other committed musicians.
Marching band was one of the peaks of my high school career. I loved the camaraderie that bonded us together—sweaty rehearsals under the August sun, making fun of the trumpet section, and the character-building experience of modestly changing clothes in a bus seat.
Together, we learned that the show must go on—100-degree heat, freezing rain, tornadic winds (sometimes all in one night)—nothing slows down the band. My high school band director drilled a Clint Eastwood quote into our heads until it became a motto, “Improvise, adapt and overcome!” I’ve carried the lessons of teamwork, resilience and responsibility into my adulthood, and even my parenting.
As of this year, the beginning of my oldest child’s high school career, I am now a band mom. My band geek husband and I couldn’t have been more proud when she announced that she was interested in marching band.
Marching band is serious business in these parts. There’s rookie camp, pre-band camp, band camp and post-band camp. The students have warm-ups, cool downs and water breaks. The calendar is filled with trainings, rehearsals, trips and competitions.
Being a member of the marching band means that my daughter has a new set of “parents”—Band Moms and Pit Crew Dads. They wear buttons picturing their students with instruments and tote stadium seats to every football game and band competition within a 400-mile radius. These well-trained volunteers organize props and instruments, uniforms and meals.
As my daughter matures, I reluctantly recognize that she is her own person and won’t always do what I think she should do. I rejoice that she is following in her parents’ footsteps for the experience of marching band. I hope she’ll fondly look back one day and appreciate the lessons and the laughter from this life-changing time.
I drop her off at rehearsals and watch until I can no longer see her pony tail swing back and forth as she shuffles into a crowd of young adults who look way too old to be her peers. Time with her is limited now. I’m afraid I’ll blink and I’ll be watching her move into a college dorm.
For now, I’m relishing band mom status. Maybe someday soon I will graduate to official “Band Mom.” Until then, I’ll put on the button of my flute-playing rookie, wait patiently for the football team to get off the field and cheer my heart out for my girl and her band. If only I could figure out which marching cotton swab is her?!