From punk rock to Pampers

This ‘domestic goddess’ used to be tough as nails

Robin Indar and her punk rock son, Jackson.

Robin Indar and her punk rock son, Jackson.

Photo by Tom Angel

As an adolescent, I was even less informed—in the beginning, anyway. I wasn’t sure whether to feel flattered if guys screamed sexy innuendos out of cars at me.

If you were to see me walking by today, you might just see a white woman in her late-20s, maybe a mom, maybe a student, maybe both. Well, you’d be right. But you’d probably never guess I used to be a punk rocker.

Back in the mid-'90s, my friends and I formed a band out of boredom. It was less than glamorous, but it was exactly what we wanted. I realized that most of my role models were male, and so much of my behavior on-stage became decidedly male. I would thrash around and scream and swing my fists like an odd mixture of anyone and everyone that ever inspired me musically. My femininity had become obscured by my new drunken and belligerent personality.

Stepping down off the stage usually brought me back to earth, though. My yin and yang were sort of split down the middle, and the two halves would take turns being in the spotlight. I’d go home and pass out on my dirty mattress with springs that poked through like menacing skewers. As soon as I’d recover from my hangover the next day, I’d be cooking and decorating like a Donna Reed train wreck.

My roommate would shake her head in worried dismay whenever I’d pull anything remotely successful from the hot oven. She was of the feminist camp that firmly believes any female who cooks and cleans should be sent to the funny farm.

The girls I regularly hung out with were usually big drinkers. I was a little afraid that they were going to get hip to the fact that I was such a lightweight. I fell down a lot of stairwells trying to keep up with them. I was also horribly embarrassed that I couldn’t skate. What kind of poser punk rocker can’t skateboard? Did other women worry about things like this?

I didn’t care. I felt like I was on a mission to represent women in a strong light, and I had a pretty fun time trying. I met a lot of really tough women, with amazing stories, and a lot of sensitive incognito types like myself. My best friend was a train-hopping kleptomaniac who would squat abandoned buildings in whatever town she happened to be in. Some of my other girlfriends were espresso jerks and sandwich makers by day and drugged-up wild women by night.

Anyway, I was beginning to wise up that most of my attempts at being tough like a man had gotten me hurt. I had been blind to the fact that I was playing a game I might never win. I had become self-destructive and unbalanced. I worked shit jobs so as to avoid looking like a soft girlie type; I shoplifted, drank, got into fights and ached almost always from some souvenir bruises I earned moshing at shows like I was being graded on it.

And I always cut my own hair. Short and fucked-up was really the only style I knew how to create, but it was the bleach-and-dye masterpieces that kept me in the low-end jobs. It was time to reach down deep and dust off my female side.

Female side? Many were surprised I had one. My family was not. I was the little girl who cried when people didn’t get along or when the cat caught a mouse. Although this side of me never fully disappeared during the decade or so I was punked-out, it was really buried.

As usual, I felt trapped between worlds. The one I had embraced so heartily was beginning to have less appeal, as friends and acquaintances began to die or take their lives or turn on us for each thing we did. “I heard you quit smoking. What’s up, poser?” they would chide.

I felt tired of all the rules of punk. They seemed endless. I felt like I was pulling out of a gang sometimes. Our band broke up in 1998, and any hole we might have left in the scene quickly sealed over like a sci-fi flesh wound that heals in the blink of an eye.

Fast-forward to modern-day Chico. Why Chico? Well, let’s just say our old neighborhood in Oakland was not the best place to raise a kid. A kid? Ah yes, perhaps I forgot to mention that. If you want to know where to find me now, you might try the backyard sandbox or Caper Acres or Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe follow the drone of my vacuum as I chase my 18-month-old son with his fist full of graham cracker pieces and fridge magnets through my suburban home.

How did I get here? Well, let’s just say that after eight years of successful bullet-dodging, one of my boyfriend-turned-husband’s sperm decided to put on swim fins and an outboard motor.

This life change has been both an inspiration and a blessing. I still keep in touch with a lot of my old friends (at least the ones who understand that change can be good), and I feel glad knowing that my son can some day learn about how his domestic goddess (and part-time student) of a mom at least used to kick ass.

Robin Indar is a wife, mother and student at Butte College. She still rocks, though.