“You know, you’re not hip, mom,” my nine year old recently said to me with what seemed to be a look of pity in his eyes.
“Errr, I know,” I answered defensively. “Of course I’m not hip. I never said I was hip. I never even thought such a thing.”
But I did. And I am. Aren’t I? How can he not see that? I’m funny. I’m irreverent. I’m edgy. I have highlights and wear trendy jeans. I do pilates. I even listen to new alternative on satellite radio in the car. One of his friends even told me I was in the running for funniest mom in fourth grade. I mean, how cool is that?
And yet…there we were, he and I. He, the kid who thinks his mom is definitely not cool. Me, the mom who up until this point thought she was.
I remember how unbearably uncool I thought my parents were, how I wanted to die of embarrassment when my dad pulled up to get me from the mall in his enormous 1982 pea-green Ford Grenada, smooth jazz drifting from the rolled down windows, honking and waving, clueless to his total and complete unhipness.
Could it be that despite all of my super-cool attributes, my kids see me as I saw my parents? Tragically unhip?
Even worse, I suspect they might actually be starting to be embarrassed by me.
This came to my attention when my six-year old daughter told me she’d been completely mortified a few days earlier when I’d eaten lunch with her at school. Parents had been invited to dine with their kids and in my naiveté, I’d brought along my favorite eggplant parm sub.
I was floored. I thought the lunch had been great. I thought we’d had fun together. But instead, I’d embarrassed her with my apparent gluttony. Sure, the sub is on the large side and filled with gooey, drippy tomato sauce and huge chunks of eggplant. And perhaps there’d been some sauce around my mouth and on my cheeks and a string or two of cheese had been left hanging. And maybe I’d been devouring it with a bit too much fervor. With burning cheeks, I thought back. Had everyone been horrified or was it just my child? How bad had it really been?
Then, a few weeks later, at a party for the entire fourth grade, my son said, “Why do you keep calling everyone sir?” He sounded disgusted.
“It’s funny,” I said. “Like, ‘can I help you with that glue SIR? Or ‘And how are you today, SIR.’ Funny!”
“No mom. It’s not.”
It wasn’t? I thought it was quirky and sarcastic and that they’d all be like, “That Daniel’s mom is really cool.” But no, I had just done it again – embarrassed my child at school.
My entire self concept was suddenly in jeopardy. Not only am I not cool as previously assumed, but I’m the worst kind of uncool – the uncool mom who thinks she’s cool.
There are lots of moms who don’t care about this. They own their uncoolness and don’t give a damn if their kid’s friends think they’re funny or if their pleated jeans aren’t skinny or if their radios are tuned to adult contemporary. They’re the adults, while I sometimes still feel like a fraudulent eighteen year old playing an adult. I guess I just need to embrace the fact that I’m just a mom, regular and embarrassing as any other mom. And it doesn’t matter to my kids that I don’t wear mommy jeans or that I have girl’s nights in trendy restaurants or that I know all the words to the new Grouplove song. Because being immature isn’t necessarily being cool.