Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How I Became One Of "The Cool Moms"




Hobby_lobby_momlife



Over the last few weeks I've seen articles from women who claim to be either so "above" the typical modern mom or sad that they’re left out of the “cool moms” group. I get both sides to a certain extent.  
One article discussed how she was not ‘into modern mom culture’ because she doesn’t drink wine and hasn’t been to a big box store in over a decade. Because she’s a city dweller and doesn’t drive how could she relate to the excitement of a minivan? Well that doesn’t make you the poster child for counter mom culture. It just means your life looks different than those who live in more suburban areas. Cool story though.

Then there was the mom who was lamenting about not being in the ‘cool mom’ group because she wears pajamas to drop off and not Lululemon, her kids aren't perfectly dressed and she has trash in her car. And to that I just had to laugh. Who declared all the "cool moms" wear Lululemon (and who can afford it?) and drink Starbucks BEFORE drop-off? 

Being a mom is hard. I’ve said for years and tell all my new mom friends, finding a tribe when you are just starting out is key. But also realize that tribe is going to evolve and grow as your children do. School moms are a horse of a completely different color and who you start out with in play group may not be who you end up with come senior year in high school. 
To the mom who is sad about not being in the cool mom group. I get it. I know you. I used to be you. Sort of. See when my daughter first began elementary school I was finishing up school, so I had a bit of a flex schedule and could be around for class parties and volunteering. I soon learned that I wasn't the room mom type and happily went to school at the end of each shift. I also felt like the odd woman out when it came to the other mothers. Most had older kids and had been in the mom game for a minute while I was trying to maintain my G.P.A. 
By the time she started 2nd grade we moved to a new city where we knew no one. In those first few months I always felt like the odd mom out when I picked her up and being one of few black families in the area felt like I stood out more than anyone else. I also didn’t dress like the other mothers, who all seemed like they were established and in their late 30’s – mid 40’s and in capri's and rayon shirts.  They seemed to want no parts of my newly 30 year-old  cut-off and flips self. Okay cool.  Then I went to work full time and mostly forgot about them until we went to school functions and I would see them all chatting and laughing. There were pangs of jealousy. Maybe a little loneliness. I wondered how long they’d all been friends and what they did for fun. But again, I worked full-time almost two hours away so I wasn’t pressed.
Then, I got pregnant with Baby Ninja and went on early maternity leave. Suddenly I had to navigate the world of after school pickup. Something I hadn’t done in over two years.  Who knew there was a science to it? Not me. 
I would see groups of moms gathered in what seemed like “cliques” chatting and laughing each afternoon as I sat and played with my phone. Comparing notes on everything from the teachers they liked, to dentists to which soccer coaches were the worst. And I totally felt left out. Part of me wanted to be ‘above it all’ and I don’t have TIME for all that housewife-y type ish. And the other part of me wanted nothing more than to be included. Sometimes, I would see them in Target or overhear plans to get coffee and it made me miss my own friends as I climbed back into my car and drove home alone. But still I brushed it off.

Then something crazy happened. I struck up a conversation with a couple of them one day. Randomly, I was close enough to overhear and jumped right in with my two cents and a hearty chuckle. The ice was broken.  It also helped that a couple of them were pregnant as well and we would nod at each other in solidarity as we lumbered through the parking lot.
Little by little I learned names and we chatted more and more each day. 
I still wasn’t all the way “in” but I was close enough.  Was I really making school mom friends? How exciting! Once Baby Ninja was born, it was even more important to get to know these women. I don’t know anything about having a boy and several of them had two or three! And talking to them sure did pass the time while waiting for Sweet Pea. I began to look forward to my afternoon carpool duties if for no other reason than to have some adult conversation. 

Sure some of them were complete opposites of me. I am not about that PTA / volunteer mom life. I’m just not. I don’t have the filter required for that kind of service and I cuss like a sailor, children in earshot be damned. (#sorrynotsorry)  BUT I will happily provide items for the bake sale. Just don’t ask me to chair it.








And it turned out I wasn’t alone. I be-friended another mom, who actually works in my industry and is about as interested in volunteering as I am. We happily chatted about SEO, bloggers we both know and the struggle of hitting your deadline and being creative with children underfoot. We even road tripped to a conference and were roommates so how's that for getting know each other!  They were more than just faces in the crowd at that point. 
I also took the time to actually get to know these women outside of judging them for how they looked/acted/what they wore.  And I realized, I fit that "cool mom" mystique. I get dressed before I drop my kids off (most days, but that’s what active wear is for) and make it a point to say hello. I am into fashion and can talk personal style for days. We meet for coffee and sometimes brunch when our schedules permit and you can often find us in the aisles of Target. And maybe that intimidates other moms. It can be hard being feeling like you're on the outside looking in but take if from me, if you don't make the effort to engage, you'll forever be feeling like that. And who knows, maybe you'll find you won't like them as much as you though or maybe, like me, you'll find you like them a whole lot more. 

But don't write off the "cool moms" as being exclusive. We're not, our sunglasses are just bigger than yours.




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