I’m a cool mom. I know this because people who aren’t my kids tell me I am.
Last fall, I walked with my daughters from their school to the park for the annual Veterans Day activities. On the way back to school, I was surrounded by my older daughter’s friends, and one of them stopped to tell me, “You know, you’re a really cool mom.” I can’t remember if she told me why she thought I was cool. Maybe she was buttering me up so I would let my daughter do something with her. It totally would have worked.
More recently, I posted pictures on Facebook of my daughters after their most recent hair appointment. They had streaks of bright color put into their hair. This wasn’t the first time we had done this. Each time, I received more than a few comments on pictures and in person about how “cool” I am for letting them do that.
I don’t consider myself cool in any aspect of my life. I put parenting at the top of that uncool list. I’m sure my kids would agree, especially right after I say no to them. But having other people say I’m a cool mom makes me wonder what it means to be a “cool” mom. Is it just how the world perceives me? Or is there a certain personality trait that predisposes someone to coolness?
So, the first step of my research was to look online. Urban Dictionary defines “cool mom” as,
A mother that treats her teenagers as peers by aiding, allowing, and/or encouraging them to partake in adult activities in the home that include but are not limited to drinking, drugging, and sex.
Um. NO. By that definition, I am not cool, and I hope I never will be.
I found another article that gave me a much better definition of what it is to be cool as a mom:
The cool mom is not about having a mom that lets you get away with everything, turns a blind eye and encourages inappropriate or bad behavior. It’s about having a mother who has an abundance of faith and trust in you, who encourages you to live your life to the fullest but has taught you right from wrong and responsibility. It’s about a mother who doubles as a friend you can do pretty much anything with.
YES! This is the kind of cool mom I want to be. I want to raise my daughters so that I can eventually enjoy being friends with them. They’re only 10 and 6. I still have a long way to go before I can claim that I’ve fulfilled my role.
Armed with this definition, I asked my husband and daughters if they thought I was cool. The girls answered immediately and loudly, “YES!” My husband thought for a while before agreeing. When I asked them why they thought I was cool, I was pleasantly surprised.
My husband said that he thinks I’m a cool parent because I talk with our girls about things like body issues and their development at a much younger age than most parents, which he thinks is a really good thing. The six-year-old likes that I let them dye their hair, which was the most recent fun thing I let them do. But my ten-year-old’s reply really helped me understand what kind of parent I’m trying to be:
I can talk to you about stuff that I talk to my friends about and you always listen to me.
I think that becoming a cool mom is just a happy accident on my path to raising my kids. It’s all about making sure I can encourage them to be the best people they can possibly be. Letting them do things like dye their hair or foster their love of weird things like Star Wars or Welcome To Night Vale might make me look good. In the end, though, it’s just a byproduct of understanding who they are and who they’re going to become.