I was never one of the cool kids. There was a part of me that desperately (and secretly) wanted to be, yet there was always a bigger part of me that somehow knew it was all a bit vacuous and pointless. I knew, even as a teen, that no amount of coolness would define my future.
Of course, none of that stopped me from feeling exactly the same as most teens; a bit awkward, lost and distinctly uncool. I looked at other, seemingly cooler, girls with a mixture of disdain and longing. I wished all kinds of things; that I was skinnier, that my hair was different, that I knew how to wear make up, and that I had even the faintest idea about fashion to name a few.
I think the longing, secret or otherwise, to be cool lasted well into adulthood and even parenthood. I feel like the desire to be cool, to fit in, plays a big role in the pressure mums feel to do things a certain way, and to be this perceived version of successful as mothers. Just like in school when the cool kids could seemingly do no wrong, later on we’re faced with the cool mums who also seemingly can do no wrong. Their hair is always done (it’s probably a shade of pastel), their kids are well behaved and can write their name by their 3rd birthday. Their houses are gorgeous, and the kids bedroom is done in shades of grey with just a pop of colour. There’s probably a teepee in there.
On top of that, Instagram is pretty clear on the matter, and the diet of the cool mums and their kids is at the very least enviable. Weaning babies are fed only organic freshly pureed vegetables, and there’s always a french word flying around at meal times. The cool mums are always up to date with the latest research relating to the little ones #development, and they are NEVER flustered.
What we all know by now, though, is that it’s fucking exhausting trying to be one of the cool mums. Is the exhaustion worth it? No, not really. Neither was the anguish as a teen, wondering why I wasn’t effortlessly and naturally cool like everyone else was.
I guess it happened sometime in the last few years, and I can’t put my finger on exactly when, but somewhere along the line I stopped wanting it. I stopped longing to be cool, and lusting after the latest crazes (for me or the kids!) The funny thing is, that once I stopped wanting it and actually just let my real self, and my real taste, shine through I think I actually came out of the cool closet a bit.
At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m pretty sure that had I have been this version of myself as a teen, that I probably would have been a damn sight more ‘popular’ than I thought I was. Minus the eye bags and obsession with stationery, obvs. And use of the word “obvs”.
Giving up wanting to be cool made me, somehow, infinitesimally cooler. I get asked quite a lot how I find time to put a face on every morning, and what the secret is to the kids being absolute angels. Truth is, I don’t put a face on every day, just the days I want to. And my kids aren’t angels, although they are pretty cool. Cool, and also arseholes. Sometimes; I guess I should add, sometimes.
Mamahood is hard. Sometimes it makes me want to scream. But also sometimes I love it. These days I love it more often because I’ve stopped caring about being the cool mum. I’ve stopped caring about which brand of ethically produced children’s food is the best to be seen with, because carrots and broccoli from Aldi will do. I’ve stopped giving a shit if people hear me use my stern voice in public, or if we have a stand off in the middle of Greggs over a sausage roll. I have a set of parenting beliefs that I will stand by, whether anyone else agrees or not. Eating your damn sausage roll without complaining is one of them.
I’ve given up bothering myself with the “Fifty-Fucking-Thousand Theories of Effective Parenthood in Modern Children: Birth to Teen” because none of it is ever quite right. My kids, like all kids, don’t fit into a mould that someone can write a book about, and nor should they. Also, I have crank tendencies, meaning I’m likely to slip within a matter of hours from the calm mama pedestal that many of the theories require.
And after years of pretending other wise, because in my circle it was the antithesis of cool, I am now proud to admit that I do like all things pink and gold and sparkly. Have that, 2006 me.
Somehow not caring has given me the cool status that I always craved as a kid. The irony is that now I’m not really bothered either way!