This one goes out to all the Taylor Swift parentsPlay
My chosen outfit for the Taylor Swift concert did not pass the 18-year-old daughter test. Well, the pants were fine: bell bottoms I’d bought on a whim, years ago, in the presence of more daring friends. But the plaid flannel shirt — I thought it looked country, but my daughter was not convinced. So, she dug into the ridiculously small bag filled with ridiculously small shirts that she had brought home from college the week before. She emerged with something pink, roughly the size of a paperback book, apparently made of spandex.
“No!” I said. And while the reason should have been obvious, I added: “I’m dressing for the cold.” It was scheduled to dip into the 40s at Gillette Stadium that night. And the nice thing about being a parent at a Taylor Swift concert is that you are fully authorized to choose comfort over looks.
But my daughter had standards. She reached into a larger bag and pulled out an enormous, fuzzy jacket in cotton-candy pink. In pictures, it made me look spherical, like a scoop of strawberry ice cream. For major national holidays like Taylor Swift Weekend, you do what you have to do.
This one goes out to the Taylor Swift parents: the mothers walking 10 paces behind as their daughters paraded down Route 1 in sequins and cowboy boots; the dad in the shirt that said, “It’s Me, Hi, I’m the Dad It’s Me;” the moms carrying little ones late in the night or dressing matchy-matchy in black with their Midnight-era girls, and the ones waiting in the parking lot a mile away because they only got tickets for the kids.
They were attending the soundtrack of their kids’ childhoods, a discography that spans nearly two decades, so long and broad and varied that it serves as a marker of time.
When she went off to college, I made her a playlist of songs we’d sang together in the car, with “Love Story” at the top.
When my daughter was in elementary school, we went to the 1989 tour and witnessed tons of teenage girls, singing “Fifteen” as if it were a hymn. When she started middle school, I bought her wall art on Etsy that said “Shake It Off.” When she was in high school, we dissected “Betty” and the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” When she went off to college, I made her a playlist of songs we’d sang together in the car, with “Love Story” at the top.
Scoring seats to a Taylor Swift concert is another story, a commitment of time and money, a long, slow ride down (or up) Route 1, a bathroom line that reaches to the moon and back, but for those fortunate enough to have managed it, it’s a memory for life. And for a parent, able to join a kid in her happy place, the joy is doubly deep.
How did we do it? Miracle of miracles, we got into the pre-sale last October. Twelve of us signed up to try — six high school besties, so tight that we dubbed them “the six-pack,” scattered at six different colleges, and their wistful moms, imagining a day in May when the girls would be back home again. My kid got the coveted code but had a class to attend, so she handed her login to me. I’ve never been more stressed at work than I was that morning, as my co-workers gathered around me, going over the rules of engagement: Log in precisely at 10. Do not, under any circumstances, hit refresh. And whatever else happens, don’t click the back browser.
Did I hit refresh? Indeed. Did I hit the back browser? You bet. But somehow, I made it into the queue, watched the buffer bar inch toward the right, got in, clicked on seats, clicked on different seats, checked out, and immediately found myself on a Facetime call with six ecstatic college girls.
Then, a few hours later, more unexpected news: Another girl got tickets for the moms. They were verified nosebleed, three rows from the tippy-top and behind the stage. We probably could have sold them for a small fortune nonetheless, but the idea never came up. Our daughters wanted us with them, and there was no way in hell we were going to pass that up.
I’ve seen families at Disney World who seemed on the edge of misery, the months of planning and anticipation culminating in stress and heat and too many chicken fingers and a mother I didn’t know and would never judge, yelling at her kids, “You are GOING to have a GOOD TIME!”
But everyone’s in a good mood on Taylor Swift day.
We packed two carloads of food — sandwiches, an assortment of carbohydrates, cupcakes adorned with Taylor toothpicks. As we approached a light on Route 1, we spied a state police officer directing traffic, stone-faced behind his sunglasses. He must be having a rotten day, I thought. Then I heard him barking at car after car: “Why’re you not singing?”
Well, we were in the moms’ car. In the girls’ car, there were ultra-loud versions of “Enchanted,” “Shake It Off,” and “You Belong With Me.” There were selfies and goofy nicknames and inside jokes, a secret language that doesn’t fade even when you’re separated for months.
As we walked toward Gillette from our faraway parking spot, their outfits in “Reputation” black and “Lover”-era pink merged with flowing country dresses and sequined pants and a brother and sister wearing sashes labeled “Miss Americana” and “The Heartbreak Prince.”
Being parents, we took note of choices we wouldn’t have made. So many tiny midriff tops. So many far-less-than-sensible shoes. And had anyone brought a hat?
We separated from the girls at the top of the ramp into the stadium. As college parents, we’re used to goodbyes. But from our nosebleed seats, we watched other people’s kids in similar states of bliss and marveled at how so many of them knew every syllable of every song, from “Blank Space” to “Better Man,” and sang them all with Taylor, like an echo.
It’s not just Taylor Swift who draws out this kind of joy. This is why people go to concerts, and why we’re all so happy to have them back: it’s a chance to forget about work and school and politics and pressure and just disappear, collectively, into song.
It didn’t rain on our night, but it was as cold as promised, and my spherical jacket served me well as the sun went down: the pockets were big enough to stash my gloves and a beanie hat. More than once as I shivered happily in the nosebleed section, I wondered about the tiny speck of Taylor far below me, wondering how someone crossing a massive catwalk in high-heeled boots and the tiniest clothes could have the stamina to perform in the cold for three and a half hours straight.
She must have fed off the energy of 70,000 people, singing along. Someone said her parents were there, too.
This segment aired on May 26, 2023.