There is so much to recount about last night's adjective-inadequate Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour, I'm already angsty about missing a detail. Bear with me.
Long before actually getting tickets to this concert seemed a reality, I had declared to myself that my elementary school-age daughter would not go to be stadium concerts. “What will she have to look forward to if she sees big concerts now?” I posed to myself. And then she fell in love with Coldplay, and I decided to relax my rule for Coldplay. And then they didn't go on tour. And then I watched my daughter transform into this little person who FEELS the music in ways that I didn't anticipate a child might feel it. She HEARS music and APPRECIATES it in a way that is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.
So when Christa said, “I think we should try to get tickets for the Taylor Swift concert,” I let down my guard some more and agreed.
Oh my goodness, am I glad I did!
If there's any chance that any of my daughter's musicality is going to blossom into real talent, I want her to see what class, kindness, and true showwomanship looks like. She saw all of that and more in Taylor.
We arrived in time to watch some of Taylor's best friends, the sisters who are the band Haim, open for her. I'd heard their name, but wasn't familiar with their music. They were great. I loved my daughter seeing young women singing and playing guitar, bass guitar, drums, and owning the stage with confidence.
Taylor opened with Welcome to New York and it was all lights and sound and 15,000 fans screaming their adoration. The affection was mutual. Taylor talked with the crowd throughout the concert. She thanked us for inviting the music of 1989 into our cars and our rooms. She told us how much she loved performing when everyone sang along-- “St. Louis, you know every word of every song by heart. There is no greater compliment for a songwriter than that. Thank you!”
Taylor is a motivational speaker. She stood anchored to a platform that rose above the audience and sang accompanied only by her own guitar. And then she encouraged the crowd. “Let me tell you what you are not. You are not your mistakes. You are not the bad thoughts you may believe about yourself. Those are illusions. Let me tell you what you are: You are made strong because of the mistakes you've made...” After the concert, Cadence reflected. “She's encouraging. I bet her mom is proud of her.” At least one fan was listening!
During costume changes, they played videos of her best friends, Lena Dunham, Selena Gomez, Haim, her best friend from high school and others I can't name right now. They told stories about Taylor and what it's like to be her friend. I loved these and thought about my own special “squad” of women who enrich my life so much.
Taylor told us that if we kept up this level of enthusiasm, she'd have a special surprise. Before the concert, I had half-mocked about Nelly, our homeboy, being the special guest. But when he joined her on stage and they sang together, it was fantastic! He radiated joy being on stage with her. You could see he was happy to be there and they had a great time together. I was glad he was the special guest.
She also talked about the fact that with our LED bracelets, she could see everyone of us in the stadium. "Even you way up in the seats up there. You think I can't see you, but I can." It feels so good to be seen. Not to mention how fun it is to wave your arms in the air, dance, and sing along with a bracelet timed to light up with the music. FAN-tas-tic.
I have to say that I was philosophic as I watched this woman 14 years my junior command the stage and own it with such grace, confidence, and generosity of spirit. I wondered, “How do we raise our girls to be like this?” And I don't mean it from the Kris Kardashian perspective. I don't necessarily want Cadence to live that public life. But I do want to help her to be that self-possessed, that generous with her life and her talents, that humble. There is a steadiness in Taylor that I do not see in many women of any age and I want that for my girl.
I have written a mission statement for raising Cadence. “It is my mission to help her grow into a smart, funny, compassionate, kind citizen of the world.” That statement is my benchmark for my progress. Every time I see her put an arm around one of her brownie sisters or want to share her money from her bank account with someone else, I know I'm on the right track.
I am so grateful for my own flexibility. To have standards and principles, and to know when to flex them to allow other experiences I didn't anticipate to flow in. We skipped out of the concert early. Our eight-year-olds were fading. They'd seen all of Taylor they needed to be satisfied and to call it a good, good night.
“Thanks for spending a lot of money on this concert, Mom. I bet it's going to be worth it,” Cadence predicted before the concert. She was so right.