With each gust of wind, more pot smoke (or vapor) floated around our heads. This was to be expected at a show, but it was a concert reality I completely overlooked when I decided to bring Darla with Greg and I to see X.
When planning the night, I was more excited by the prospect that my six year old would get to see one of my favorite punk bands. In high school, I begged my mom to let me see them in Orange County, over an hour away from our house. When she said no, I broke down in tears and told her that I would never have a chance to see them, again. I had to go to this show or I would forever have to live with the regret of never seeing them. She, exhausted from raising eleven other kids and fully aware that I would wear her down if she continued to say no, allowed me to go with little resistance. I went, danced, and even met X backstage. It was the best day of my life, but definitely not the last time I would see them.
Twenty years later, I brought Darla to see X. She didn't have to beg me. I did it of my own volition because I knew it was important for her to see strong, female singers. I was a cool mom who let her six year old daughter to go to concerts and stay up until eleven.
Like I expected, the show was great, but I definitely wasn't the cool, footloose mom I had envisioned myself to be. The minute I smelled the pot, I panicked. I waved my hand in front of her face. I blew the air around her head to keep her from inhaling any of it. I wondered whether I had made a huge mistake by bringing her to such an adult event. I started falling down the same mom shame spiral that I always do. As I did my best to not freak out and keep the air around her clear, I was reminded of a mom I met when I was eighteen when my new college friend brought me to a party. The mom was the same age as I was at the time.
The group of people at the party were living their punk truths and my presence soured the atmosphere. I started taking showers when I was sixteen, so I didn't fit in anymore. My friend was my ride, though, so I was stuck.
As we drank beer and smoked on the porch, the young mom came out with the baby. She sat on the porch a few feet from me. She had dreaded brown hair that she tied up with a bandana and a septum piercing on her button nose. She wore a black dress with a brown vest and ripped, black stockings. The baby was small and pink and wore yellow footie pajamas.
The mom reached out to the crust punk sitting next for and gestured for his cigarette. He passed it to her. She brought it to her lips, inhaled deeply, tilted her head upward, and blew smoke up into the air.
"Man," the crust punk said as she handed the cigarette back to her. "It's so nice to see how much you care about that baby to blow smoke away from her. That's really awesome."
The mom shrugged her shoulders. It was the least she could do for her baby's health.
As I sat next to her, I judged away.
"If she really wants to be a good mom, she could quite smoking," I thought, not realizing that this mom was doing the best she could with what she had. After a minute, the mom went back inside to put the baby to bed since the party was getting too rowdy.
Remembering this as I struggled to keep the pot smoke away from Darla, I couldn't tell at first if It made me feed better or worse about my decision to bring her. A few seconds later, the air no longer smelled like pot. I stopped waving my hands in front of her face. I looked down at Darla who joyfully danced to "The World's a Mess," oblivious to the lyric's meaning, and I decided that this was a good opportunity for her. I wasn't going to bring her to shows every week, but every once in awhile she can stay up past her bedtime and see how fun life can be after 8:00 at night.