The 1980s were a time of prosperity and excess, when the classic rock bands of the ’70s took a swan dive into a pool of glitter, made love to the progressive (and androgynous) glam rockers, and popped out a feathered-hair, leather-clad love child known as the hair band. There was nothing practical about Kiss wearing six-inch, sparking platform boots, Jon Bon Jovi’s leather pants, or anything at all about Mötley Crüe. Yet their head-banging hits and monster ballads are still celebrated by out-of-date moms everywhere.
As I arrive at the pickup line in front of my son’s school, windows down, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” blaring from my speakers, I notice several other moms bopping along—some with their wild, unwashed hair restrained into respectful pony tails, others patting their stained yoga pants and tapping their brightly colored sneakers to the killer guitar solo. My fellow middle-aged moms and I have a special kinship in our bad hair, questionable fashion sense and terrible music taste. In fact, we would have made some pretty awesome Hair band members, and here are a few reasons why:
1. Our unruly hair. I wash my hair once a week—twice if I’m feeling decadent—and often wake up with the front of my hair slicked down like a giraffe licked the side of my head while the back of my color-treated, chemical-damaged, flat-ironed tresses stand defiantly on end. The result is business up front, party in the back: the perfect ’80s mullet. Give me five minutes in the bathroom, a pair of scissors to cut some uneven bangs and a can of Aqua Net, and I’ll give Bret Michaels a run for his money.
2. Our insane makeup. My kids were playing cosmetician a few days ago, and I’ve yet to remove the four pounds of Joan Jett black eyeliner they applied to my pasty face. With the teal eye shadow they found in the back of my makeup drawer, clumpy mascara I hadn’t opened in years and bright red what-was-I-thinking lipstick, I’m currently sporting a look somewhere between Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons (without the tongue, of course).
3. Our rocker clothes. I always wondered where Cinderella and Twisted Sister found their leopard print leggings until I passed by the mom-fashion section of my local Target. It looked like a yoga pants safari. Paired with my oversized, muffin-top-hiding T-shirts and handcrafted macaroni necklaces, my new zebra-striped leggings would have impressed even the trendiest mall queens, and I have bangles that would put The Bangles to shame.
4. Our surly attitudes. If you’re going to carry off tight leather pants, eyeliner and a mullet, you have to balance it with cocksure assertiveness bordering on defiance. The rockers of the ‘80s rarely smiled and were usually photographed looking into the camera with smoldering eyes while straddling a chrome-covered motorcycle. Raw sex appeal aside, no one can inspire fear and reverence like an angry mother. Billy Idol’s sneer has nothing on the daggers propelled from my eyes when I realize my kids have been using my Michael Kors handbag as a pine-cone-collecting satchel.
5. Our wild entourages. Infamous ‘80s rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Nikki Sixx had a habit of throwing lavish parties, destroying hotel rooms, smashing guitars and ingesting living creatures. Replace cocaine and heroine with sugar and my children have caused more destruction than Iggy Pop. My kids have pooped in closets, clogged toilets with no attempts made to plunge before flushing several hundred times, drawn on walls, broken lamps and eaten bugs, both live and dead. My toddler is more of a diva in restaurants than Madonna, happy to hurl a plate of chicken strips on the floor because they are too crooked. The truth is, like many hair bands, we rarely attend a single function without someone in our party throwing up or passing out.
6. Our “free love” lifestyle. One of the perks of having an entourage of roadies, groupies and super-fans is that your bed is never empty. Hair bands like Def Leppard would throw bacchanal parties before, during and after every performance with girls coming and going throughout. Their bedrooms might as well have had revolving doors, a situation with which moms are intimately acquainted. On any given night, I am roused from a deep sleep by the urgent demands of at least two individuals. In my more impressive moments, I tend to the needs of both at the same time.
While my pussy-cat leggings, Skid Row T-shirt and communal sleeping quarters are doing me no favors in the cool department these days, the ‘80s would have been a glorious time to be a middle-aged mom. Big hair, big swagger and big hits would have made moms effortlessly cool, with a slammin’ soundtrack to match. Bell bottoms and peasant tops reemerged as fashionable, so I’m waiting patiently, eyeliner and hairspray poised for action, for the return of hair bands. Until then, I will continue to nod my approval at my fellow mom-rocker-wannabes over the sound of Journey blasting from my minivan and yearn for the day when the rest of the world embraces us with open arms.