I hadn't had a kid-free night in 3 years. Going to see Harry Styles is the boldest act of self-care I've allowed myself.

·5 min read
Harry Styles
Harry Styles.Handout/Helene Marie Pambrun via Getty Images
  • Harry Styles is popular with young women but also big with people like me — moms in their 40s.

  • I lost myself in motherhood, and Styles' music helped me find myself again.

  • I went alone to two of his concerts, and it was the best self-care I could've imagined.

Harry Styles is beloved by young women who grew up listening to One Direction, but he's also popular among women in their 40s, moms, and even grandmas. With the release of "Harry's House" in spring last year, which recently snagged the Grammy for album of the year, I joined the legions of women obsessed with the fast-dancing, endlessly charming bloke.

I've loved One Direction and Styles' music for years, but before I became a serious fan early last year, I was in a bad place. I'd been mentally, professionally, and emotionally stuck since the start of the pandemic, when I lost access to childcare and added another child to my home. Then I bought "Harry's House" after enjoying the radio singles, and something in me shifted for the better. I became more playful with my kids, started writing more, and initiated social outings with friends.

My newfound love for Styles led me to impulsively buy tickets to two of his recent shows near Los Angeles — the closest ones to my home in Portland, Oregon — both times without first consulting my family.

For a stay-at-home mom who hadn't had a kid-free night in more than three years, it was a long-overdue act of self-care, and I credit Styles with emboldening me to do it.

I lost myself in motherhood

I lost a strong sense of self after having kids. My days are spent driving my sons to and from autism and speech therapy, and in the car, I've gotten to know Harry. His songs have brightened up my worst and most stressful days as a mom.

"Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "As It Was" induce such euphoria in me that I can't possibly be in a bad mood when they're playing. When traffic jams hit, my kids wail in the backseat before succumbing to naps, or I'm faced with stormy weather, Styles puts me at ease. I'm often shuttling my sons around in a severely sleep-deprived state, and to keep from feeling drowsy, I sing along to Styles' upbeat lyrics.

Portland, Oregon, is known for its dreary weather, so the cheeriness of Styles' songs, including the booming, musical-influenced "Treat People With Kindness" and the largely overlooked "Sunflower, Vol. 6" on "Fine Line," have helped thwart my seasonal blues.

In a time when everyone seems to be reliving the '80s in music, Styles' psychedelic, funky '70s feel in "Fine Line" and parts of "Harry's House" are so refreshing.

I bought tickets to see him

In fall, I casually browsed seats for Styles' "Love on Tour" stop near Los Angeles, and within minutes, I had a single ticket for his November 9 performance.

Some people thought it was weird that I went to the show without a gaggle of friends, but I'm never alone, so it was the best trip I could have asked for. For once, I had to pack a bag for only myself and didn't have to worry about including snacks, wipes, diapers, trash bags for wet pants, or spare toddler clothes.

I even had lunch with my childhood best friend, who just so happened to be at Los Angeles International Airport at the same time as I was. It was so pleasant having a fully engaged conversation with another adult without constantly looking over at my kids. I read my book uninterrupted on the plane, took two showers in one day, and ate sushi for the first time in years at the venue, Kia Forum, which sold the dish in honor of Styles' hit song.

I hopped in Ubers without taking car-seat installation into consideration and had long conversations with many other concert attendees. I'm not used to being unencumbered, but it felt so good within the context of my Harry Styles adventures.

I spoke with several women in their 60s who had traveled across the country to see him and a girl who was turning 18 at midnight and shared a birthday with Styles. After a scan of the room, I noticed there didn't seem to be a lot of women my age at the show. I thought maybe most of them had kids around the ages of mine and chose to sit this one out, and I felt a tingle of pride that, for once, I put myself first.

My husband wasn't exactly thrilled about my spontaneous purchase, but because he knew how much Styles had enriched my life over the past year, he understood it was important for me to take this solo trip. I joked it was my version of Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," a memoir about the author's journey hiking alone to deal with her demons and buried grief.

Styles tells people at every concert that they can be whomever they want for the night, and I'm so thankful he gave me permission to do that not only in his presence but also in my everyday life. At "Harry's House," I'm not just a mother of boys.

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