There's a toddler in her bed, the familiar sensation of bobby pins in her head and, quite likely, glitter all over the room. But Katy Perry's Friday nights don't hit quite the same as they used to.
In the waning weeks of her nearly two-year Las Vegas residency, the pop star has gotten used to some very long days. "I got to drop my daughter off at preschool this morning," she recently told Good Morning America of Daisy Dove, the 3-year-old she and fiancé Orlando Bloom welcomed on Aug. 26, 2020. "I'll come home tonight and I'll still have, like, hair and makeup done, and I'll probably be in some form of robe and lipstick everywhere. I'll be just cutting some olives, cutting some grapes."
Pink flamingos in the pool, this is not.
And yet its these more mundane parts of motherhood that have Perry feeling as if she's livin' a 38-year-old's dream.
"I'm writing a lot and have written a lot from a place of love, because I'm feeling so much of it—so much unconditional love, that love you never knew existed," she told GMA, explaining why she hasn't put out new material since she dropped both her sixth studio album Smile and the news of Daisy's arrival in the same week. "What's really important to me is to be celebrating the world that I've got to build with all of these wonderful songs and to be responsible for a life for a 3-year-old."
In other words, the American Idol judge—who's also juggling her Katy Perry Collections shoe line and De Soi, her brand of non-alcoholic apértifs—has a lot going on, okay?
"I will be back," she vowed, "but let me get this right."
Hard to believe Perry was once pretty hot n cold when it came to motherhood.
In the three years since the littlest Bloom came into the world to the chanting sounds emanating from Dad's speakers, she's built an impressive vocabulary ("She's at the point where she's saying new words everyday," Perry shared on the Smartless podcast last September), danced at more than a few of Mom's shows and mastered the art of a full beat.
"She loves the makeup," Perry told E! News in November. "I have a makeup bag and she's always pointing at it, like, 'Bring it down, bring it down.' If I leave her for two minutes with that, it is like a full face."
And yet Perry is certain she is the one who's experienced the biggest transformation.
It goes beyond everything the musician had to power through in that initial postpartum period and all the pump breaks she was forced to squeeze in on the American Idol set. "The show was really kind and considerate of that," she said on E!'s Daily Pop in April 2021 of returning to her judge's chair just five weeks after giving birth. "I felt really supported."
Daisy's arrival simply shifted everything from the food she eats ("I went through this huge transformation after having Daisy about, what am I putting into my body?" Perry confessed in an April 2021 Instagram Live with Bloom's ex Miranda Kerr) and where she lives (her and Bloom's new Montecito, Calif., spread offers nearly nine acres of private space just miles from where she grew up in Santa Barbara) to the way she approaches life's biggest decisions.
"She changed something really important inside of me," the pop star explained during a 2021 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "And everything I do now, I think of her."
It's a sort of unadulterated bliss Perry couldn't even begun to have dreamed of just a few years ago.
Rocked by the career lows that 2017 brought—in an interview with Vogue Australia she admitted the mixed reviews of Witness "broke my heart"—and a split with Bloom that would prove to just be a pause, "I was clinically depressed," she confessed on CBS This Morning in August 2020. I wasn't even having bouts of depression, I was like, I could not get out of bed."
So she began penning the 12 tracks that would make up her 2020 release Smile even before she had a reason to slip back into her whimsical, neon-wearing, full-of-light persona. "My career didn't really meet my own personal expectations. Things started to shift," she continued. "And I had broken up with Orlando… I wasn't getting high off of my own supply anymore."
At her lowest point, she continued, Perry began "fantasizing about not being around," explaining, "If I did that, I would kind of have the last word or be able to control the chaos and the sadness. I'm so grateful that it didn't go there."
Instead she slowly climbed her way into the light, focusing less on commercial success and fan reception and more on the type of stuff that fills her soul.
"I've come to learn, after 10 years of success in the spotlight, that being happy is something you have to work for every single day," Perry told Glamour in 2018. "Even if you have money or houses or status or fame—and all of that stuff is great for a moment—if you don't have happiness charging the train, you're gonna derail.
A lot of my early twenties were really intense, really extreme, and somewhat unconscious. It was all career focused, which was great, but once you touch the ceiling so many times, it's like, 'Oh yeah, I did that. I touched the ceiling.' Now I want to touch the stars, which has to do with the heart."
Around the time of her January 2018 healing retreat at the Hoffman Institute, she reunited with Bloom for good and they began plotting out their future, including their newest little bud. Engaged on Valentine's Day 2019, "We were both ready," Perry told Apple Music's Zane Lowe in August 2020 of making plans to have a baby. "It was no mistake."
She could have kept "bulldozing ahead," she admitted in her Instagram Live chat with Kerr, collecting Grammys to add to her current collection of 13, producing hit tracks and signing multimillion-dollar deals like the one that landed her on American Idol in 2017.
"It's amazing to have this opportunity to be a businesswoman," Perry noted, "but at 34, when I was like, 'OK, I'm ready,' I'm so glad I made the conscious decision to actually try and do that."
Because no disrespect to her side hustle as a No. 1 track-minting pop star, but parenting is "the best job, it's the most fulfilling," she raved. "I got the opportunity to climb every single mountain, especially career-wise, and see those views and a lot of them I was really grateful for. But there was no feeling like the feeling when I had my daughter. That was like, all the love that I was ever searching for."
And because she had so recently traversed a few valleys she understood how "your art is validated by the outside world and that fluctuates," she continued. "Sometimes you are beloved and then sometimes people are like 'Nah, I don't like that. Moving on.' But the love from your children is constant and unconditional and isn't based on, you know, what you have, what you don't have, you know, what career, what product and so that's definitely made me feel so full to know that there's this unwavering, unconditional love."
And she's grateful to have an experienced teammate in Bloom at her side.
"I've got an incredible fiancé who has done this before," she explained on Jimmy Kimmel Live! of Bloom and Kerr's 12-year-old son Flynn. Though she initially begged off hearing tales from the former spouses' years of playing happy family, "they actually helped. They're like, 'Oh, you've had a run at this. You know how to do this.'"
And in addition to Bloom's years of parenting wisdom as guidance, she had a handful of her own as de facto step-mom, having mastered the art of early bedtimes. "I used to not wake up until, like, 11 a.m.," Perry marveled to Ellen DeGeneres in 2019, "and now I'm in bed like a normal person at 10:00 p.m. just, like, falling asleep."
Plus she got a little extra training while social distancing at home during the peak of the coronavirus with her then-8-month-old nephew and 3- and 6-year-old nieces. "I'm learning to be a mom fast," she joked on The Graham Norton Show in May 2020. "Kids gravitate towards me through my music, so I am used to them, but I am not used to being woken up really early in the morning by them staring at me from the side of my bed."
And to master all the rest of it, she put in the work.
"I'm not very maternal," she confessed during her interview with Lowe. "I am, in a way, but like when it comes to crying, and sadness, and like that kind of stuff, I'm like: 'I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do.' Yeah. I was like, 'Man, not only do I have to figure this out for myself, but I have to figure this out for my future in order to be able to enjoy this blessing.' So after doing a ton of work and continuing on that journey, I was like, 'I'm ready. I'm ready.'"
In between putting together her daughter's rose-hued nursery, carefully packing away favorite pieces from her wardrobe for safekeeping (she'll "probably just be goth," Perry joked to PopSugar of Daisy's personal style "and, like, 'No, Mom. Thanks'") and finding a spot to display the hand-embroidered pink silk blankie from Auntie Taylor Swift, Perry and Bloom hashed out how exactly they would go about raising their flower.
"She has two very ambitious, loud, independent, free-thinking parents, so it's gonna rub off," the singer predicted to People ahead of Daisy's arrival. "Or maybe she's gonna completely revolt and be in the corner, very shy bookworm. We're just here to support her, and I'm sure she's just here to teach us a lesson!"
One thing was certain, though, she told the outlet, her groom-to-be was "gonna be the good cop and I'm gonna be the bad cop. I already know it! I'm the three F's. I'm fun, firm but fair. That's how I roll."
The past few years have certainly been packed with a lot of fun. Take the oh-so-simple Mother's Day outing that had Perry feeling brighter than the moon, moon, moon.
"We got the time to go on a bike ride to breakfast. That's one of my favorite things to do in life, is ride my bike and ride with Daisy on the back," Perry told E! News in 2022. "We rode at the beach, and it was just so beautiful, that California sun, that serotonin that I needed. And I was just, like, screaming how grateful I was and just, like, it just feels good to be a little unit. A little family."
So, yes, she'll make that Vegas-to-southern California commute as long as is necessary.
"It makes me so happy to take her preschool. I drop her off and I say, 'Mommy's gonna go. I'll be right back,'" Perry noted to E! News in November. "I'm just gonna go play a quick show in Las Vegas. And then I come back and she's asleep. I make her lunch—I cut off the crusts don't worry."
And when she's not booked to be behind the judges' table or atop a Vegas stage, "any day I get off, I'm just in mom mode," Perry shared on the Smartless podcast. "It doesn't matter if I've had a show that goes to 11 p.m. the night before, I'm waking up at 6 o'clock and we're gonna go and do breakfast. And yes, I have the no-sleep shakes, but I'm doing mom mode today."
Because while Daisy has a part-time sitter to step in during Mom and Dad's work commitments, "I don't have a full-time nanny," Perry continued, "because I feel like if I had a full-time nanny then I would never be able to know how to care for my daughter like I'm meant to."
And she feels very much that she was meant to do this.
"She changed my life and still continues to change my life," Perry noted in a January 2021 Instagram Live. "I think that you realize that when you become a mother...you just have to focus on being a mom. And it's not because you don't love other people, it's not because of anything besides you just want to be a great mom."
Despite that sort of sacrifice, the things that have fallen to the wayside, she would 10/10 recommend it to anyone interested. "Life couldn't be better," she gushed on Daily Pop, "and I just feel so grateful being a mother of a wonderful, beautiful girl and just having this job. I'm blessed."
(A version of this story originally published on Aug. 26, 2021 at 12 a.m. PT)