This post appeared in The Huffington Post 5/3/16.
At our house, Taylor Swift’s voice fills the voids of silence. Sometimes, her voice is loud and other times, you have pause to hear the faint whisper, but it is always there.
My daughter is a Swifty.
Taylor Swift has always been a part of my daughter’s life. From car trips, where a Swift song came on the radio. Her small, squeaky voice from the back seat would beg to “turn the music up”. In what seemed like a competition to drowned out the radio, she’d sing the song–word for word, to that moment Taylor Swift serenaded Tim McGraw at the ACMs.
Ten years have passed.
I write this reflecting on last summer and what my daughter proclaims “the best night of my life.”
It was Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour.
We walked through the door to the stadium, and my daughter’s face was more in awe than any Christmas morning.
Her eyes sparkled, and a Cheshire grin spread across her face. She asked about the lights, the posters, the vendors and then we took our seats.
She asked about the lights, the posters, the vendors and then we took our seats.
As my daughter played Taylor Swift Trivia prompted by a marquee, I watched in admiration. At this moment, I realized that Taylor Swift had taught my daughter to be fierce. To be her own person.
“It’s human instinct to try to defend yourself when people have the wrong impression of you, but you have to let go of that and just get rid of it because it’s not yours anymore.”
We all want to be accepted. For many, that means being hurt and allowing it to consume you. Taylor Swift has made my daughter realize her worth.
I asked, “Do you get bullied?”
“Of course, Mom. I think everyone does” came my daughter’s reply.
“How does that make you feel?”
“I don’t like it, but I don’t let it bother me because I know these people aren’t going to be part of my life forever” was my daughter’s thoughtful response.
I swallowed hard. It was one of the most profound statements. Indeed, these children that are her peers will not be a part of her life forever. I reflected on how many of my classmates from fifth grade were still in my life–a handful.
“If you go too far down the rabbit-hole of what people think about you, it can change everything about who you are.”
At twelve, my daughter is old enough to decide what to wear. Sometimes, she matches and looks like a fashion runway model. Other times, she’s a hodgepodge of eclectic.
When I have questioned her taste and ensemble, she has replied, “I know it doesn’t match, but it makes me feel good, and that’s all that matters.”
Taylor Swift is taking chances. Sometimes it has been a simple example such as introducing herself to Tim McGraw. Sometimes it has been more raw, like being criticized for a chain of exes. Always it has been pure class.
She handled herself beautifully when Kanye West yanked the microphone from her and declared Beyonce should have won, years later, when some would have sought revenge, she showed grace and lead by example when she so triumphantly:
“Don’t change who you are because eventually you are going to run out of new things to become.”
I listen to my children play outside. One hot, muggy, summer afternoon, as the kids were playing a game of what sounded like “house,” I heard each child state their “pretend” age. The neighbors were 27, 24 and one stretched it to 35.
My daughter answered, “I’m 11“.
I tilted my head in confusion, which I’m pretty confident mirrored the children outside looking at my daughter because I heard one of them say to her, “You can be ANY age. We are pretending. Pick any age you want to be.”
My daughter didn’t stutter. She didn’t ponder. She stated very matter-of-factly, “I’m 11. I’m just not going to wish my life away like that.”
“Just because something is over doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly beautiful.”
I tend to be emotional. I’m like this about everything. My daughter comforts me. When I am sad, I have to leave my parent’s, or say goodbye to my in-laws, my daughter hugs me and tells me, “We have just to remember how we felt before now. All the love, it’s still there. Dig deep and hold on to it.”
And she is right.
As Taylor Swift took her last bow on the 1989 stage in Charlotte that night, I was sad that it was over. This moment of watching my daughter’s face light up with pure joy and excitement; Hearing her sing along to all her favorite songs and catching her breath to hug me and say, “Thank you, Mom” would be over.
Then my daughter turned to me and said, “That was AWESOME!”
To be herself.
That this moment will pass and, new opportunities will present themselves.
The important thing is being there, at this time, good or bad, and celebrating.
As my daughter will remind me:
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain”
She would know.
Taylor Swift taught her.