let's get loud

Mom Life Got You Stressed? Try Drum Lessons. Trust Me.

Finally, it was my turn to make some noise.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Shutterstock

When people ask me why I started taking drum lessons last year, my answer is simple: I just wanted to make a whole lot of noise.

I’m sure you’re very familiar with all the reasons a millennial mom in the little-kid trenches would need to get loud. I just really, really needed something that would offer me the opportunity to put aside the swirl of to-do lists in my brain and be present in the moment. “Why not try meditation?” so many people reply. Well, meditation is great, and it worked for me for a while. But I kept nodding off, then jerking awake, which left me more stressed out than ever.

Plus, I wanted something more fun.

I’d always thought of drumming as one of those things that would be fun to try. One day, I just… decided to try. I kind of remembered how beats and rests got counted (sometimes?) from high school marching band, where I played clarinet. From there, I literally googled my town’s name + “drum lessons.” I picked a random instructor’s name that came up and am so happy I did.

So we’re clear, I have no intention of doing anything productive with this hobby. I just wanted a socially acceptable way to make a ton of noise. I pictured myself in one of those rage rooms where you smash a bunch of dinnerware and sweep glass sculptures off the counter. Imagine getting to do that on the regular! Making a ton of noise could perhaps drown out the volume of the constant chatter in my mind. As a bonus, people might think I’m interesting?

Every other week, I practice under the watchful eye of my teacher, who is quite possibly 15 years younger than me. We’re an unlikely pair: He is an effortlessly cool professional musician. I am constantly folding sweatpants. But no matter! He’s so kind and encouraging that I now look forward to Gen Z ruling the world.

Drumming demands that you be totally in the moment. You miss one beat and the whole goddamn thing is off. You practice the same two measures a thousand times, a musical mantra if you will. You notice your right calf hurting from hitting the bass drum so much and have no choice but to just keep going, ok??

I’ve discovered that a basement, soundproof music studio is the ideal place to scream the F word when I mess up, which is often. But it’s such a cathartic release. My poor teacher must think I’m such an angry soul. I make sure to remind him, though, that every other Sunday at 2:00 p.m. is ~mom’s big day out~.

At a recent lesson, I had one of those “holy s--- I’m doing it” moments, managing to stay on beat during a song I had picked. The anxious, tightly wound version of me left the room for a moment. In walked someone who unabashedly KNEW what she was doing, even just for a few beats.

I don’t come home a different mom — someone more breezy and patient, someone who is ready to rock and roll at all hours. I come home more of myself, reconnecting with the version of me who has confidence in who she is and what she can do. I try to hang onto that feeling when I get back to real life. It’s certainly not permanent. But at least when I’m drumming, I know it’s accessible.

I want my daughter to see her mom doing something that doesn’t involve flipping through channels or scrolling Instagram. I want my daughter to see that grown-ups can have fun, too. I want my daughter to know that when a bad mood is bubbling up — whether she’s 5, 15, or God help me, even older — I can hand her my sticks and watch her come back to herself.

When she is not practicing drums or folding sweatpants, Meredith Begley likes to read and write about health. Find her on Instagram @meredithbegley.