I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Kuretzky at a show she put on at a skatepark outside of Detroit. The concert featured Earth Crisis, Ricochet, and a few local hardcore bands. Sarah is a truly one-of-a-kind human being. (That is, unless you know of other women who are vegan, straight-edge, putting on hardcore shows, teaching high school art, serving as a holistic health coach and raising 3 children.) I’m truly honored that Sarah is the first drug-free mom to do an interview for the website.
Name: Sarah Kuretzky
Number and ages of children: 3 kids: Jacob is 14, Jonah is 13, and Laila is 8
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Profession: High School Art Teacher
- What are your personal drug- and alcohol-free recreational outlets?
My whole life is a drug and alcohol free outlet, but I love music. I just started learning how to play the guitar within the last year which is super challenging, but I love it as a creative outlet. I love going to shows and hearing new music, so I pretty much surround myself with music all the time.
2. What are your favorite things to do with your children?
My kids are really active. My boys are really into sports and they play a different one every season. My son Jacob is a freshman at the school where I teach, so I spend a lot of time at school and after school at sporting events. We are a huge football family, so we talk about and watch football all the time. February is the saddest month of all.
My daughter and I take guitar lessons together. She started a few month after I did and she seems to really be into it. I listen to a lot of different music with her talking about likes and dislikes of certain styles.
3. What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you at this stage in your life?
So art, music, and literature for me has to have meaning. I guess everything I like or influences me is based on the idea of social justice. Kehinde Wiley is one of my favorite painters and Lorna Simpson’s Hair “Stories” are the work that I can look at over and over and still feel the power of it.
Music: I love Samiam I know they aren’t a Straight Edge band I just love their sound. But bands that influence me are still 90’s hardcore bands. I could listen to Shelter, 108, Jawbreaker, Earth Crisis, Helmet, Quicksand, Falling Forward, Judge, Fugazi, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of it All, and Seaweed. Just to name a few.
As far as literature goes, I love reading but the best two books I’ve read recently are Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon and Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys Boys, by Viv Albertine.
4. What does being a good mother mean to you?
It’s something I have to work on every day. All my kids need different things, and I think being a teacher for as long as I have has helped. I really try to treat my kids with respect and listen to them and their needs. I know when my kids act out there is a bigger reason. So I talk to them. I think that is the most important thing about being a good mom is sitting with my kids together and individually, and just talking. Also, I think it’s really important to let your kids be who they are meant to be. I don’t sweat the small stuff. They will learn lessons from their obstacles and their truth so I have to let them do that. That’s how they’ll grow, but they all know I’m there for them.
5. Could you tell about your professional life as a holistic health counselor? It sounds like a really meaningful career.
So, I am a certified holistic health coach and an art teacher. Both to help people. I really want people to live healthy, happy and full lives. As a health coach I work with people to eat, workout and overall have a healthier life. It’s amazing when I can help people make a difference in their lives and their families.
As far as being an art teacher I love working with kid and teaching them about how far they can push their work to go to art school, send a message, or be a part of social activism. It’s amazing seeing kids grow and push themselves to be artist. I talk to students about their own personal lenses and how it affects their work and how people who view it have a very different story.
6. Straight-edge, and hardcore in general, could be fairly criticized as a boys’ club. Can you share some of your experiences in the scene as a woman? What brought you into hardcore in the first place?
This is probably the hardest question to answer for me. Throughout my life I mostly hung out with boys when I was a kid. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I was always called a “tomboy.” I never felt that comfortable around other girls, so ever since I was little I always hung out, played sports and got into music. I always felt weird going to shows when I was in high school and college and being the only girl there. I always felt weird with hardcore dudes having girlfriends there holding their jackets. I always felt different, like this was a place I belong.
It was a boys club when I was growing up but I think things have changed a lot since the Riot Grrrl scene and I’m glad. I’m so happy that girls and women can have a voice and be a part of the scene. I love seeing women in bands with men and making amazing music.
7. How does your partner feel about your drug-free choices? If single, how do your closest friends and family members feel about your drug-free choices?
I’m single and I try to spend time with people who live clean, sober lives. My family gets it for sure. I have been straight edge for the majority of my life.
8. Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free as a mother (or beforehand)? Are there other major life choices that complement your decision?
I’ve been straight edge for so long I can’t remember the exact date. I never liked feeling of being out of control. When I have been, I have been in positions that were not good or healthy for me.
9. How do your experiences as a daughter influence your choices as a mother when it comes to drugs and alcohol?
I’m really honest with all of my kids about how I experienced life and how I have had friends who went through addiction and so much pain, and the pain I have gone through because of people’s addiction. I want my kids to understand the seriousness of drugs and alcohol but know they can come to me about it. When I was young and I drank, I hated it but felt like it was a rite of passage or something. I want my kids to know that there are other ways to experience growing up without those influences.
10. As a daughter, what is something you would like your mom or dad to know?
As a daughter, I want my parents to know that I’m grateful for everything they did for me. We all do the best we can do, and as a parent I fully understand my parents did their best.
11. Your Jewish heritage seems to be a profound source of inspiration and contemplation for you. How do religion, political ideology, or other philosophies play a part in your choices as a mother?
I am Jewish and I raise my children as Jews, but many people who follow my faith would know I mean that in loose terms. I believe we all have a relationship with God if we choose to, but the most important foundation is the idea of mitzvah, which means good deeds. I want my kids to be good, giving people who are part of a community of convictions. I’m trying to raise kids who will stand up for their beliefs and be caring and compassionate. Being Jewish is all part of that, but more in a cultural sense than a religious sense.
12. If you drank or used drugs, how will you address your past with your children?
I am honest with my kids and let them know that it made me feel out of control and that doesn’t work for me. We discuss people drinking in my family and people my children know, but they know I believe in my convictions deeply to be Straight Edge.
13. What pitfalls exist for drug-free mothers? How successful have you felt at overcoming them?
I don’t feel pitfalls really, except lots of moms seem to be really into wine and wine parties. I just don’t go. Not really my scene.
14. What are your greatest hopes for your children?
My greatest hope for my children and that they do what the love and makes them happy. I want them to find their own journey and realize their dreams.
x xdfdx x