Mom Talk: When Good Parenting Means Skipping Bedtime for Joan Jett

Written by

Cheryl Witty-Castillo

3:30 pm

Mark Weiss for Getty Images

Most of the time being a good parent means making sure the kids eat their veggies, do their homework, clean behind their ears, and get to bed on time. But every once in a while, it means keeping your 7-year-old out until midnight, feeding them M&Ms, and letting them go wild at a Joan Jett concert on a school night. In today’s Mom Talk, Cheryl Witty-Castillo walks us through the humorous and heart-warming experience of breaking the rules for one night, and the surprising lessons that came out of it, for both her and her rock n’roll–obsessed daughter. 

A big part of being a responsible parent is in the mundane stuff. It’s helping with homework, getting dinner ready, enforcing an appropriate bedtime, making sure everyone gets out the door and to school on time, so they can grow and learn and become happy human beings. So, that’s what was going through my mind when my mom texted me saying that Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, along with Heart, would be playing in our city in a few weeks. My seven-year-old daughter is obsessed with music. She’s developed very clear musical preferences and is a complete tyrant in the car with the aux cord and her carefully curated playlists. And she absolutely loves Joan Jett.

Loves. Her.

But the concert was on a school night, right in the middle of the second week of school. I take my daughter to concerts all the time, but this would be at a bigger, louder venue, farther away from our house. I’d have to take off work a little early, she’d have to do her homework in the car, and we would no doubt get home way past any notion of a reasonable bedtime.

Despite my better judgement, I made an impulse decision and pulled the trigger on the tickets. I felt the mom guilt almost immediately, but when I told my daughter about the concert plans, she literally squealed in excitement. She talked about it non-stop, and honestly her enthusiasm was pretty contagious. There was certainly no going back at that point.

I was still feeling uneasy, even after we got to the venue and the show started. She was having the time of her life though, on her feet, dancing, playing her air guitar, and singing at the top of lungs. During a break between songs, Joan Jett and another musician on stage talked for a moment about the history of the band, about how at the time when the band formed, they caught a lot of flak for having a female lead with an all-male backing band. They started their own label, and Joan Jett has been doing her thing, on her own terms, ever since.

And then, as the band went into the next song (and my daughter popped back up out of her seat and started dancing away), I was struck by the magnitude of that. Here in front of me was a woman who fought for her voice, who contributed to the changing landscape in her industry, who made a difference for the women who would come after her. And my daughter got to see her live.

So often, we focus on academics when it comes to educating our daughters about history. And yes, education can be the silver bullet; it is so important for our girls. But while we introduce them to pioneering women in the classroom and in textbooks, we can’t forget that there are women around us today who are still fighting for change and making it happen. I want my daughter to be inspired when she reads about Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and Sally Ride. But not all inspiration is found in history books. Sometimes progress wears a sparkly unitard and plays her guitar really loud…and you can bet your seven year old is going to feel that in her soul.

As we stumbled back to our car after the show, my first thought was ‘It’s going to be past midnight by the time we get home.’ My second thought? ‘We just had the best time together. I’m so glad we came.’ Looking at my daughter, covered in sweat and the remains of M&Ms (that I paid an exorbitant amount for at concessions) all over her face—and still playing her air guitar—I knew everything was worth it. She has so much to say in her heart and mind, and I want her to know that her voice matters. That she can be as loud as she wants to be. And if someone tells her she can’t, then she can start her own record label and do it anyway.

I’m grateful for all the pioneering women who have shown our girls that they can be center stage. We have made so much progress as a society, but there’s still work to do. From healthcare to the wage gap to the portrayal of women in film and television, the list goes on. We have a long way to go, and what better way to demonstrate to our daughters that they can continue the fight than to show them the women who have fought to make their voices heard. Sometimes that means going to the library; other times it means going to a concert.

So, while for the most part, I still think doing all the responsible, boring things probably makes up the bulk of good parenting, I’m not going to feel bad about breaking the rules. I’m going to take her to the political rally, the concert, the book signing, the art show, even if it’s on a school night and I know the next morning is going to be rough.

Because, as so many trailblazing women have taught us, sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

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