“Music has given me solace and a way to temporarily escape.”

Mary, 39, Canada

From a young age my mother used to tell me that I never wanted to follow the norm. “If your teacher set up a reading group at school, you would organize an anti-reading group on the other side of the class!”. I was generally a good kid but I had my own rhythm to map out. At the age of 11, while my girlfriends were playing “house”, I learned to play the drums. At the time, this was not something typical for girls to do. To this day, women drummers are a rarity.

I wondered for many years if there was something wrong with me because I was more interested in “banging on the drums” than having a baby. I thought that once I saw my friends having kids, it might kick my “biological clock” into working order again. Instead, the metronome on my drums kept going!

As I grew into my 20s and 30s, I naturally gravitated toward friendships with other people who also had decided on a childfree life. Many of those friendships were built directly or indirectly from playing music. Being a woman drummer, I am often the sole woman in the band or on the stage. Most of the women I knew who were up and coming musicians in their younger days, don’t play anymore. “Maybe I will get back to it when the kids are grown up” they say. If I had had kids, my drums would likely be long forgotten in dust in the basement. Through drumming I have met my life partner, travelled the world, played in a band with an ex-prime minister, and had so many other extraordinary experiences.

In the last 3 years my partner has had heart surgery and my father has had 2 cancers. It was hard enough dealing with all that and I could not imagine having children to look after on top of it all. Music has given me solace and a way to temporarily escape.

I am turning 40 this year. As I spend my evenings playing music, I recognize that many of my childhood friends took a much different path with their lives. That is fine by me. I am still – literally and figuratively – marching to the beat of my own drum!