Monday, December 8, 2008

“Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover?” - Stevie Nicks

  One of the  cool things I've been doing since I turned 40 has been singing in a band. Our band plays classic rock songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s; as a result, I've become enamored with groundbreaking rock chicks like Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, and Stevie Nicks.  Back in the day, these talented women had to make tough choices to succeed in a music industry dominated by men.

For Stevie Nicks, this meant taking a pass on motherhood.  "I made a conscious decision that I was not going to have children. I didn't want others raising them, and looking after them myself would get in the way of being a musician and writer."

Whoa - Stevie Nicks clearly viewed committed relationships as roadblocks to reaching her full potential. Isn't this kind of anti-feminist? Come on, Stevie, I know you're pushing 60, but even in your day, women could be both mothers and artists, lovers and writers. It just takes hard work, resourcefulness, and a little compromise.

But Stevie Nicks didn't want to make compromises - instead, she made a choice. The radical thing about her choice was that she put the highest value on her own creativity and self-expression.

Not all the early rockers made the same decision. Chrissie Hynde has two daughters; even the the androgynous Patti Smith has a couple kids. Did their art suffer by becoming mothers? Well...maybe. Patti Smith was quoted as saying, "If I have any regrets, I could say that I'm sorry I wasn't a better writer or a better singer."

Stevie wouldn't change a thing. Recently, when asked if she regretted not having children, she answered, "Would I really want to give up all those years of singing? Would I just have been not that great a mom and not that great a singer because I tried to do both?"

I put my career on  hold to stay home with my kids, so I definitely didn't follow Stevie Nick's path. Still, I admire (and maybe even envy) her for prioritizing her life as an artist and being brave enough to live on her own terms.

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