I never thought I’d ever be typing this blog…but here I am. I learned a painful lesson this month…
I’m an Uncool Mom.
I know, I know…first I’m old, now I am uncool. See, aren’t you happy that I blog with two other extremely talented bloggers so you actually hear from young and cool Moms?
Now I must preface this blog by stating that my “uncool”ness has surprised me a great deal. See, I always thought of myself as a pretty cool Mom. I try and do “out of the box” activities with my kids, I am constantly pretending to be a princess or wicked witch in games, we have “crafty Sundays”, music time, dance parties, make believe outings to the moon. So for the past 4 years I’ve thought…hey I’m pretty cool….
Well…my “cool” meter has been riding in the red lately…
It was a Saturday. I was doing yard work in my backyard. My daughter asked me if she could have the neighborhood kids over while we were outside. Of course, I said yes, because well…that’s what cool Moms do, right? So, there I was doing yard work while my daughter and son played with three of my daughter's friends. One girl is a few years older than my daughter, the others are her age. At first, nothing too exciting was going on…however as the afternoon went on my daughter's friends were going crazy, jumping off swings, teasing our dog, screaming. I kept trying to curb the behaviors but I can’t stand to discipline someone else’s kid. So for the most part, since J and H weren’t partaking in these activities. I let it go, maybe rolled my eyes a bit, and continued to rake.
Then, the group made it to our playhouse. They started barreling down our slide full speed on their bellies, head first. They bonked their heads on others coming back up, fell face first into the grass. The lawyer in me couldn’t bear to watch this. “Someone’s going to get hurt Mandi, you’re going to get sued Mandi”. Then I saw J. She went to the slide and started to get on her tummy to head down head first.
“J, we slide down on our bottoms ONLY, you can’t go head first”.
The second the words left my mouth, I knew the reaction they would get. J got quiet, hung her head, and looked at me with sad puppy dogs eyes. There she sat while the other tummy-sliders were going down over and over. Her eyes said it plain as day… “Not cool Mom”. “Why can’t I do it Mommy, everyone else is??” My response of “Well, I’m not their Mommy and so I can’t tell them what to do” did not ease the sadness of my little girl.
I couldn’t bear to look at her disappointed eyes and so I continued to rake. But I couldn’t help but notice out of the corners of my eyes that J sat there pouting while all her friends continued barreling down head first.
It was official, already by the age of 4, I had lost my “cool Mom” status.
And it only got worse. The group of kids made it over to our newly purchased trampoline. They started to jump all five together and the older kid started instigating a game of crack the egg where one was supposed to lay down and the other kids jump all around.
“No, we can’t do that on the trampoline guys. No jumping while someone is down and you can’t jump five at a time”.
Yes, I know…. “Not cool” AGAIN.
My guilt escalated when one of the girls looked over two houses down (the other house with a trampoline) and saw that the kids were home and getting on to their trampoline. The girl turned to the other girls and said “Let’s go over there, they play crack the egg all the time”. They quickly said bye to J and H and headed over to the cool house, with the cool trampoline, and the cool Mom standing by laughing while the kids played crack the egg.
I know, I know, REALLY not cool.
J jumped off the trampoline and went to swing on her swing. I felt horrible. I walked over to her: “You know, J, Mommy was just trying to keep everyone safe. I worry about you”. J said quickly “I know Mommy” and went off to play with her Barbies. She didn't look sad from being abandoned for the "cool trampoline" but I still felt terribly guilty.
“Mandi, could you not have let her just slide down once head first??”, “Mandi you grew up playing crack the egg on a trampoline with no enclosure and you were fine”.
Then, the inevitable question came up… “How did I become the Uncool Mommy???”
My shock at this relevation comes from the fact that I was raised by the queen of “cool” Moms. If there was a club for Cool Moms, my Mom would be the President. My Mom was THE “cool” Mom. I heard it 1000 times growing up “I wish I could have your Mom”.
And it wasn’t just my friends that thought my Mom was cool…I myself am in awe of her. See, she did “cool” Mom right. She wasn’t that Mom that was more worried about being a friend than a parent and so let her kids do everything. She parented with such grace, such talent. She has always been the best friend to my brothers and I, yet she is our role model as well. I can seriously tell her everything, and I do. I grew up with really no rules, I never had a curfew, I was never put in a time out, never grounded. I ate sugar, drank from hoses, rolled in dirt, went off exploring with my brothers in woods all alone behind my house, and yes I’m sure I even went down slides head first.
But, yet strangely enough with my Mom’s relaxed parenting style, my brothers and I were NEVER in trouble, we were still always home early, never arrested, always good grades, just good kids. She was able to “discipline” and teach us right from wrong, without any one of us having to give her a dirty look like the one J gave me. How did she do this?
So okay, I’ll be honest, after being raised by this woman, and best friends with this woman, I really thought I was genetically prone to being a cool Mom. I have been told 1000’s of times that I am just like my Mom. Okay then, so what happened to me?
And since the incident on the slide, I just keep noticing more of my uncool moments. I don’t let my kids drink pop, even though most girls at J’s dance class have a Pepsi or Mountain Dew in hand. I don’t let my kids chew gum because I think they are too young and don’t want them to choke, my kids order apple dippers instead of fries. The other kids in our neighborhood run around unsupervised…I’m the queen of saying “Stay where I can see you”. I am that Mom that won’t let my kids watch a show called Kick Buttowski because I don’t like the name, even though their Daddy turns it on for them all the time.
Now I know what you may be thinking, its good parenting to discipline and watch what your kids eat or watch. But I can’t help but want to be a “Cool Mom” in addition to that. So how do you parent properly and be cool at the same time? How do I walk the line my Mom did in a society that is more dangerous than I grew up in?
This cool Mom v. good Mom balance has been the hardest part of parenting to me. And because of my husband’s relaxed nature…I am the one that has to be the “bad cop” most of the time. I would love to just go with the flow, let them do as they will (and pour them a Mountain Dew as they do it) but as their Mom, I just can’t.
So, I’m just going to stop wondering how to strike this balance and just parent one day at a time. Okay so maybe I don’t own the “cool trampoline”, maybe I won’t be the “cool Mom” on the block, and maybe I’ll never be able to find that seamless and perfect balance my Mom did…but if I have three happy, healthy kids at the end of this journey I think that’s going to be “cool” enough for me.