Joe Elliott And I Go Back A Long Way

I hadn’t planned to write this week or next. We are moving. Moving! And my brain is not to be trusted or used for anything more difficult then figuring out how to heat up frozen pizza. But last night it became clear that I need to share an important part of me. If you can’t handle it, then I guess we can’t be friends.

You see, I love Def Leppard, and I strongly believed for the longest time I would marry Joe Elliott.

It all started with being the new kid. We had just moved to Concord, California, from Carrollton, Texas, and it was a tough one. I was headed into fourth grade, which, as we all know, is the time that lifelong friendships and cool statuses are made. I spent the entire summer with my brother Robert who was 16 at the time.

What he loved, I loved. This included his taste in music and shoes (Vans) but not the smell of Polo cologne. We rocked to bands like Krokus (with their eight-year-old-girl-friendly hit, “Eat The Rich”), Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard.

When school started in the fall, I knew it was time to spread my wings and make some friends my own age. I was ready for my place at the cool table. My surefire method of showing my savvy? Wearing my Def Leppard bandana and pin every Friday. (Look, my brother had the Union Jack shorts like Rick Allen; it was the 80s, don’t judge us.)

One Friday Todd started mocking my awesome fan attire. He said, “Oh yeah, I bet you really know all about Def Leppard.” I hadn’t quite developed my smack talk yet so my response did not hit the mark. I said, “I do! I have all their albums!” To which he replied, “Yeah? All two of them?”

Crap.

Anyway, my love of Def Leppard was rock solid and could not be lessened by Todd and his back-pocket-comb. The obsession was fueled by MTV. I can pretty much give you a frame-by-frame synopsis of the “Photograph” video, and I do a fantastic impression of Joe Elliott’s snarl from “Rock of Ages.”

I could get all deep and sentimental and lay some line on you about how Def Leppard reminds me of my closeness with my brother and the struggles faced when having to move. But also? They rock. And they had great rockstar hair. I’m sorry; they have great rock star hair.

See? Rockstar hair. And an earring. And dear Lord has he gotten puffy.

We moved again just before I entered seventh grade. My brothers did not come with us, so I was left to fend for myself in the identity-creation department. I went with wearing all black and being snarky. It felt right. Then, the summer before eighth grade, Def Leppard released a new album. (And yes, their drummer was down to one arm. Ha ha. Very mature thing to laugh at.) Again, the power of MTV brought the rock gods to me every day. I was sure I would one day be discovered by Joe and asked to be in a video.

My friends were kind and bought me the VHS Historia movie. They tried not to laugh at my notebook covered in fan pics of Joe Elliott in those famous ripped jeans.

THIS. This picture was on my notebook and graced the wall in my bedroom.

Hold on. I need a moment.

Anyway, the Hysteria album cemented my love forever. Though I would go on to see them in concert three times, I seemed to stop adding their new music in the 90s. It’s possible that my brain was just too full to add any more awesome. Or maybe those early albums are just tied to memories too big to expand upon. Those hair band albums of the 80s just make me happy. I sing into my hairbrush and dance like a video queen. I have attitude and spunk. And cleaning the toilets is much cooler.

So, that’s it. Now you know. If my hair band love with heavy emphasis on Def Leppard makes you think less of me, so be it. I don’t need your approval. I just need to rock.

Mommy Days

When I get a case of the Mondays, it’s a bit different than the kind an office worker gets. It’s me screeching away from the boys’ school after drop-off like I’m leaving the scene of a crime. Even a stop at the grocery store is less annoying. I get my list items and some fresh bread to celebrate. Then I get home and run a victory lap in a quiet house.

Don’t get me wrong; I love our weekends. We hang around the house in jammies, and we play. But there’s just something so great about having the house to yourself. No one is here to tell me ‘no’. No one is here to silently judge me for propping my feet up in front of HGTV as dirty clothes threaten to smother us. (Okay, truth. Michael doesn’t care if I watch TV instead of clean. When he gets tired of the filth, he gently asks if I can get to it ‘sometime this week’. The silent judgement I assign to him is my projection. I feel guilty when I sit down. I feel I do not deserve a break from doing bare minimum. In other words, my brain does special Stephanie-thinking.)

After Monday, my second favorite day of the week is Stay At Home Mommy Day. This is the one school day a week I keep the boys home. It’s usually Thursday, but sometimes we wake up, and a rainy Tuesday is just the perfect day to stay inside. I love being able to keep them home when either they or I feel like it. I will miss these days when they go to kindergarten, and I go back to work. I actually get chores done because they play with such gusto. They are free to do as they please, and they know it. They do not waste a minute. They can play one thing all morning. And of course they invite me along.

No school? Let's get after some hanger art in our jammies.

No school? Let’s get after some hanger art in our jammies.

One of our favorite games on Stay At Home Mommy Days is bear family. We all pretend to be bears, and my bedroom is our cave. As bears, we fish, gather honey, and take naps. Yes, being a carnivorous beast is exhausting, even if you’re on the small side. The naps are only pretend, but I enjoy the chance to cuddle under the blankets with my sweet boys. I often get roped into telling stories during bear naps. Then the boys will tell some. It’s pretty great.

These Stay At Home Mommy Days are my special reward. I seem to be able to enjoy the boys and who they are becoming while also getting things done around the house. They are the days I hoped to have when I pictured being a stay-at-home-mother. I will never regret this time with my sons, and I hope they remember that Mommy was not all work and no play.