If you’re of a certain age, you’ll immediately know this: “I’m not like other moms. I’m a cool mom”. It’s from the movie Mean Girls, a highly quotable, very relatable funny takedown of teen-aged girlhood.
I think of the scene often. A teen takes her friends home after school to hang out and there’s her mom, pink tracksuit and a cocktail, wanting to hang out with the group, desperately attempting to relate to them. The thing about being a ‘cool mom’ is that while you desire it, the more you try, the less cool you become.
I guess deep down I do like to think that I’m a cool mom. I watch edgy movies, sometimes. I wear black jeans. Black jeans are cool, right? I use social media. I’m not on TikTok yet, though I know if I want to be cool I should be. I read an article about it.
In my estimation the true definition of remaining cool is knowing about new music. I try to stay roughly on top of what music is hip and important, though keeping up with that hasn’t been particularly easy. Recently I went away for a weekend with some girlfriends to celebrate a bachelorette. Walking from the spa to the restaurant, my child-less bride-to-be friend asked me what I was listening to these days.
There is no question that the most-played album of 2019 in my home was Raffi’s Greatest Hits. While it is a classic, it’s not particularly relevant among children’s records. I’m sure the Wiggles have put out something more current and contemporary that cool kids know all the words to.
A few days later, at work, we were talking about interview questions. At one point in my career we asked prospective hires what the last book they read was. I chuckled recounting this to my colleagues, remembering the dozens of candidates unable to answer the question. A moment later I realized the most recent book I’d read was my 10,000th pass of The Gruffalo. I mean no offense to the Gruffalo, because it’s a fun-filled romp of a read. I’m really being honest, the only book I’ve read in completion in the past few years is one about how to get twins to sleep.
Recently I’ve taken to going into entertainment experiences blindly. A concert for a band I’ve never really heard of, a movie I haven’t seen the preview for. That’s a pretty fun experience actually, in its purity and low expectations. I just don’t have time to do the research I used to; and I’m completely trusting the friends who make recommendations. I feel grateful to have people in my life who are still paying attention to popular culture.
I stand in grocery store lines not recognizing celebrity faces on the cover of magazines. People mention huge news stories to me, and I’ve only read the headline.
I suppose I’m coming to terms with the reality that there is only so much space in one’s life once kids come along. The tiny slivers of personal time I shave out can’t be filled with mundane details of reality stars and their feuds; it can’t be handed over to blindly scrolling music review sites for detailed descriptions of albums. Those lengthy Sundays in bed, reading books cover-to-cover in a binge approach, just aren’t going to happen again until my kids move out.
I’m okay with giving those things up, just like I’ve come to terms with no longer being cool. No one wants to be the mom awkwardly trying to fit in with her daughter’s friends, pretending to know the latest lingo. Besides, it’s objectively very difficult to remain cool when your most recent google searches are “fever 21 months” and “meal ideas toddler”.