To All the Cool Moms:
I’m a wife and mother in my twenties, which is often seen in a less-than-positive light in today’s mainstream society. When I look at magazine articles intended for people my age, the message is often: Don’t get married or have kids…it’ll ruin your independence (and dreams. . . and life!). According to our culture, motherhood just isn’t really good enough on its own. When you become a mom, you risk giving up a lot of the things that make you, well you, right? Some goals may slow down. Others may disappear. Our culture despairs when this happens: “Poor thing. She’ll never travel, now. Her career is at a standstill. She’s just not true to herself anymore.” Being ‘true to oneself’ is probably the highest value my generation has and – admittedly – motherhood does not share this priority.
However, if you are one of the women who decides to engage in domestic life anyway, don’t worry. You can still be seen as culturally valid. All you have to do is make sure you are a “Cool Mom.”
Don’t know what this means? Sure you do. The media offers tons of examples. Cool Mom is all over Pinterest. She’s in the movies and in magazines, wearing the faces of various celebrities. She’s perfectly dressed: fashionable, hair styled, make-up applied. Her kids are also always picture-perfect. She has no trouble balancing work, motherhood, marriage and household tasks. She’s always sexy. She’s a “#girlboss.” Post-delivery Cool Mom lost her baby weight before she left the hospital. She does yoga at 5:00 a.m. every day and goes out for drinks at 11:00 p.m. Cool Mom is definitely never embarrassing, hormonal, or frizzy. Her children have probably never thrown up on her.
So what do you think? Are you a Cool Mom?
Sidenote: It’s actually amazing if your kids have never thrown up on you (although I will say that the day is coming, Friend).
The problem here is obvious: despite the evidence of their existence on Instagram, I don’t think many of these Cool Moms actually exist IRL (in real life). And yet, there is this intense societal pressure to live up to the standard of the Cool Mom. If you don’t … well then you’re just a boring, regular mom, right?
The real issue is that society has it all wrong when it comes to judging what a mother’s priorities should be and the things that make a mom, “Cool.” If you’ll notice the above qualities of a Cool Mom, they don’t really have much to do with motherhood. They have more to do with continuing to seem like the exact same person you were before (despite) motherhood. It’s all about self-image. Paradoxically, the defining feature of motherhood is self-sacrifice.
I’m not saying that it’s bad if you take pride in your appearance. On the contrary, it’s awesome if you take care of yourself and make an effort to look good. It’s fantastic if you rock at your career. You can be proud of yourself for all of your efforts to pursue your goals! Power to you, Girl. You should claim these admirable qualities as things that make you unique and awesome as a person. However, moms should not have to do all these things to be seen as culturally valid, or “Cool,” in their maternal roles.
I’d argue that the qualities of a truly Cool Mom are the ones which develop out of motherhood itself. Our culture says that a mother’s worth is based on her ability to resist these changes. However, many of them are incredibly positive. The real “Coolness” of mom-hood is an entirely unique thing: the sort of cool that you didn’t have yet as a single girl without kids. The (real) Cool Mom may exhibit qualities that our society doesn’t really appreciate, but that’s all the more reason to celebrate the messy, human, powerful strength of a good mother.Maybe the personal changes which come out of this experience are different for every woman. Since I have become a mother, several things have changed in me that I am proud of.
The Cool Mom that motherhood has made me:
Cool Mom is incredibly tough. Her body is strong and capable of amazing things. She learns new things about love, family, and balance every day. Cool Mom is comfortable in her own skin, and she loves and trusts her husband more than ever. She is struggling to become more organized. Cool Mom is brave. She can be scary if you mess with her kid. Cool Mom is not ashamed to act like a dork. Cool Mom cries a lot—with frustration, with adoration, with all the feelings of a heart that is bigger than it used to be. She works hard. She makes sacrifices. Cool Mom loves, and is loved, intensely.
Motherhood invites all kinds of changes. While some of them are hard, many of them are beautiful too. Instead of trying to be Cool Moms by society’s standards and clinging to that false image of the girl you used to be, I hope that you’ll join me in thinking about how motherhood can make every woman a Cool Mom in her own way. It is an experience that shows us wonderful things about ourselves that we never would have realized otherwise.
So what do you think? Has motherhood changed you for the better? How would you describe your identity as a Cool Mom?