06/28/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT
Pat Benatar is annoyed: Her husband, Neil "Spyder" Giraldo, has just told her that their daughter Haley, 25, has spilled green tea on a sisal rug in another room. "Take paper towels and blot, blot, blot," she instructs. "And please, give me a break!" As he runs off to help with the clean-up, she laughs at her own exasperation. "This is the best part," she says with a smile. "No matter what I'm doing, someone's going, 'Mom!'"
It's a title Benatar rocks harder than the belted tees and tights she wore as a tough-but-hot MTV queen in the '80s. Back then she conquered the charts by belting out hits such as "Love Is a Battlefield" and "Hit Me with Your Best Shot." Nowadays the 57-year-old singer-who chronicles her life and more than 30-year career in a new memoir, Between a Heart and a Rock Place
-sees herself as "Martha Stewart with an edge." Married for 28 years to her longtime guitarist Giraldo, 54, the Grammy winner spends most days "taking care of my kids and home and writing songs." She won't tour when 16-year-old daughter Hana is in school. (This year she hits the road June 24.) "Pat's the best mom," says Giraldo. "Attentive, intense and always on it."
At the height of her fame, record label execs pressured Benatar to hide her pregnancies because they didn't fit with her sexy image. "They wanted me to be the single vixen, and having a baby was as unvixenlike as you could be," says Benatar. "In their eyes, it was like a death sentence." When Haley (now a jewelry designer and aspiring TV host) was born in 1985, Benatar was afraid that easing up on work would wreck her career. "Everything was at the peak, and everybody said, 'Step away now? Are you stupid?'" she recalls. When Hana (who sings in a choir) arrived nine years later, Benatar didn't think twice about focusing on motherhood. "I knew it was the right thing."
Benatar says her daughters think she looked like "a total dork" in her heyday, but they covet her trendy-again '80s wardrobe, which she keeps in storage. "I gave them some of my boots," she says. These days Lady Gaga
's envelope-busting aesthetic thrills her. "I love that she's such a freak," she says. "She's brilliant."
Eventually Benatar hopes to retire to Hawaii for a life of "mai tais, writing books and selling leis on the corner." Meantime she's keeping busy working on a Christmas album and an acoustic collection of her hits. "I'll be singing 'Heartbreaker' as they're putting me in the coffin and closing it," she quips. "And I'm going to go, 'One more verse, please!'"