When I was a teenager, my mom was the "cool" mom. She was at least a decade younger than my friends' mothers, wore T-shirts and jeans like we did and made my friends laugh. Her youth and energy were mortifying to me at the time (she even had a baby when I was 15!), but now that I'm a middle-aged mother, I wonder if I will ever be considered cool-by my kids or by anyone else.
What about you? Are you a cool mom or decidedly uncool? And what the heck is a cool mom anyway?
"A cool mom is one who enjoys everything-like someone who likes sports and who plays with their kids," says Cole, 12.
Riley, 9, defines a cool mom as "obviously someone who loves you, for one thing. She lets you do things you want, but she always wants what's best for you."
"Cool moms are funny and nice to everyone, including their kids," says Aubrey, 11. "They're fun to be around."
Of course, no mom is fun to be around all the time. We all have days where we yell at our kids, forget the permission slip or count the minutes until bedtime. So maybe cool is a state of mind.
"I guess a `good' cool mom (in my opinion) is one that stays current but realizes that she's not 20 years old anymore," says mom of two Lisa Berch Bakewell of Joliet. "A cool mom knows about technology and uses it, but doesn't abuse it. A cool mom dresses in an up-to-date fashion, but doesn't try to dress like a 20-something. A cool mom knows how and, maybe more importantly, WHEN to interact with their kids' friends and when to be `invisible.' A cool mom is one that, basically, knows the difference between being a `cool mom' and trying to be too cool. A cool mom still embarrasses their kids, but less frequently."
The truth is, the older your kids are, the less likely you are to be considered cool-at least to them.
But what about your peers? It's not only your children (and their friends) who may have an opinion about whether we're cool. What about the fellow moms we encounter every day?
"When I was growing up, the `cool moms' were the ones who had fewer rules for their kids," says Eileen Dwyer Breeze, mom of three kids, 7, 3, and 2, who lives in Downers Grove.
Today Breeze has a new definition of what it means to be a cool mom. "I think a `cool mom' can, in fact, maintain high standards and firm boundaries."
When it comes to relating to other moms, being a cool mom means "commiserating about the things that stress us out, worry us, and make us happy-without complaining or gloating," she says. "I also think it means putting yourself together well."
The bottom line is that in the long run, confidence in your role as a parent is way more important than whether you're considered cool.
"I don't know if I'm a `cool' mom or not," admits Bakewell. "I guess that depends on your definition."
Maybe it's time to stop worrying about whether we're cool, and just focus on being loving, consistent parents-and enjoying our children. That's what they're likely to think is cool-if we can get them to admit it, anyway.
Kelly James-Enger's 7-year-old son, Ryan, says, "a cool mom doesn't yell, she plays with her kids and has fun with them." By that standard, she's two-thirds of the way cool.
Kelly James-Enger’s 7-year-old son, Ryan, says, “a cool mom doesn’t yell, she plays with her kids and has fun with them.” By that standard, she’s two-thirds of the way cool.