The first piece I ever wrote for Alpha Mom was this one, about why you want your teen in marching band. We were, at the time, relatively new band parents (we’d been through just one marching season). We were also, at that time, in the middle of a very difficult stretch with my teen daughter, who was struggling with a lot of issues and no longer seemed like “herself.” When I’d allow myself—in the midst of that trying and downright scary time—to think back to the last time she’d seemed happy happy and whole, the answer was always the same: Marching band. She’d been most herself during marching season. She was disciplined, focused, and working as hard as we’d ever seen, absolutely, but she was also feeling competent and proud of herself. She was happy.

So when I wrote the original piece, I was nostalgic for that brighter time. Maybe, I thought, after turning in my writing, I’d romanticized it, just a little…? My words were colored by longing for a simpler, happier time. Maybe I was giving band too much credit, and really I was just wishing for a time machine.

But then the piece went viral, because (surprise!) we are not the only family for whom marching band has been nothing short of amazing. Something magical really does happen there for those kids, and by extension, for families like ours. Kids who’ve never been part of a group find their place. Kids who’ve never mustered the motivation to work hard and push themselves are stretched further than they could’ve imagined possible. Band kids feel good about themselves. If you have teenagers, you know how precious that is. Read More