Celebrity Q+A: Pat Benatar
She may be a groundbreaking female rocker, but these days the 57-year-old Grammy Award winner is singing the praises of daughters Haley, 26, and Hana, 17.
Q. In your book Between a Heart and a Rock Place you talk about living a fairy tale: Thirty-one years ago you met your writing partner-guitarist husband, Neil "Spyder" Giraldo, and you're still together. Has your love inspired your daughters?
A. I'd like to think it has—Spyder and I are mad for each other. But sometimes my girls worry about finding their true loves. Who wouldn't, given the current state of the world? I hope they still believe in the possibility, though. We try to teach them not to settle and that happiness is attainable.
Q. You and Spyder are still very affectionate. Does that embarrass the girls?
A. My parents were married for 61 years until my father passed away two years ago, and I always loved seeing them holding hands. It's the same for my kids. Well, actually, Hana says, "Oh, mom. Can't you kiss and do that stuff somewhere else? It's so gross." But she's 17, so everything we do embarrasses her!
Q. Do either of your daughters sing?
A. Haley was interested is music when she was younger. She had an all-girl band called GLO. Now she's designing her own line of jewelry. Hana performs with the choir and participates in musical theater at school, and she's started writing songs.
Q. What other lessons do you hope to pass down?
A. I want them to be loving but tenacious and to know they have to be fierce out there as females. When I was starting as a singer, sexism was rampant. I grew up in a household where women worked, so I couldn't understand how the male-dominated realm of rock music didn't want to let me in. It made me angry, but I used that anger to break through the barriers.
Q. How else has your career—and Spyder's—influenced who the girls have become?
A. Ha! We're their parents, so they try to make us think we have no influence whatsoever! In reality, we're hard to escape; they've been with us for every album and on every tour. Hopefully they've seen how gratifying it can be to pursue dreams, but also the amount of work and dedication that's required to bring them to fruition.
Q. Do their friends like your music?
A. Yes, much to their chagrin!
Q. You've said you're a total Type A person. How do you reconcile that with being a mom?
A. Perfectionism and motherhood don't belong in the same sentence. I'm always second-guessing myself: "Did I do the right thing? Did I make the smart choice?" I try to do my best, but it's one part of my life where I'm not Superwoman.
Q. In your book, you talk about your grandmother washing your mouth out with soap as a kid. Have you ever done that to your daughters?
A. No—that was one of the most horrible things ever, so I couldn't do it to my girls. But there have been many days when they were sassin' me that I wish I had stuck soap in! Maybe one bar of Dove could have prevented those knock-down, drag-out, hour-long arguments.
Q. Did your daughters like growing up on the road with you?
A. They loved it! It was like being at rock-and-roll summer camp—swimming in different pools across America every day and ordering room service every night. They've been traveling with me since they were infants; I've never toured without them. Once Haley was old enough to go to school, we only toured in the summer so the girls could have a stable routine and a normal schedule.
Q. Are they close friends, even with the age difference?
A. Oh, yes. It's really interesting when you have kids so far apart, which wasn't intentional, by the way. We had such difficulty getting pregnant the first time that we basically gave up after another nine years of trying, post-Haley. And then...voila! I never would have chosen the age gap between them, but now they're best friends who've managed to avoid all that sibling drama. It worked out great!
Sunday at my house: "We're half-Italian so there's a big meal. Hana likes to make pasta and Haley is a baker. Spyder is usually watching football until we call him to the table."
Rules of motherhood: "There aren't enough hours in the day. You don't have enough hands. You're never going to be right all the time, and you're going to screw up!"
Secret talent: "Stain removal. Last year I got mascara off of Hana's prom dress. Thirty seconds before, I'd told her not to apply makeup with the dress on—then she dropped the wand down the front. But I got it off!"
Hardest part of being a parent: "Hearing the words: 'You're the worst mother—ever!' Of course, they've only said it when I enforced curfew, said no, or told them they were grounded."
My proudest accomplishment: "It's a tie. Staying in love for 31 years and raising ethical kids."
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.