Wanna know something ironic? I was not popular at all when I was in school, but now that my daughter is in school, I’m all-of-a-sudden the cool mom. I’m not sure how it happened. I never really anticipated being the cool mom, nor did I set out with the intention to be the cool mom. But, alas, my pre-teen daughter has told me on multiple occasions that her friends love me and that I have been dubbed “Cool Mom”. It got me thinking…
My daughter has been going to school with the same set of kids since she was in kindergarten. Now a very social seventh grader, I’ve had the pleasure of watching these same kids grow up, mature, and change year after year. It wasn’t really until this school year, however, that the title of “Cool Mom” was given to me.
I actually overheard one of my daughter’s friends one day as I pulled up in the carpool line. “Your mom is so cool,” she said. Then, as Marley hopped in the Jeep, that same little girl smiled and waved at me, and I called her by name when returning her greeting.
I realized at that moment that being the “cool mom” isn’t about being “cool” at all. It’s about being present.
My ex-husband and I divorced when Marley was only 3 years old. She was in preschool at the time, and I owned my own business, a children’s clothing store, directly across the street from her preschool. Marley was with me every single day during the day, and I was an ever-present fixture at the preschool.
When she began attending kindergarten at a public school, I had closed my store and was working full-time not far down the street from her new school. It was during her year of kindergarten that a tradition was born.
Every other Wednesday during the school year, I would have lunch with Marley at school in the cafeteria with her classmates. For six years, we maintained this tradition, only missing a handful of days. I was able to spend about 30-40 minutes a couple times each month with my daughter in her social circle. I was part of the group.
I rarely pulled out the “I’m the mom, that’s why” card. I let the kids be kids, and I just observed and participated in their jovial conversation.
By first grade, the kids knew me. I had officially lost my identity, and was now lovingly referred to as “Marley’s mom”. I got hugs in the hallway, Christmas cards from classmates, and sometimes the little girls would ask to hold my other hand, since Marley always had one of them.
This continued the entire time Marley was in elementary school. And it wasn’t just lunches. I attended school events, class events, parties, fall festivals, spring flings…the works. I always made a point to ackowledge the kids I knew, and was greeted warmly.
Over the years, I never did any of this with the intentions of becoming a “cool mom”, or even being popular among the kids. I just genuinely grew to care for these kids. I got to know them, and grew to love them. And they knew they could trust me.
Now, in middle school, these same kids realize they can still trust me. I have been a fixture in their lives for almost nine years. It warms my heart to be greeted by an almost-13-year old, who is standing in front of their friends, with a big hug.
While the lunchtime tradition went away with elementary school days, I still make a point of being present. I know their names. I have funny stories and sweet memories of these kids. I check up on them when I see them in the halls, and they know I genuinely care about their grades, their successes, and their lives.
I honestly didn’t expect the open affection to continue into middle school, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was during the first week of school this year when I was almost tackled with a big hug from one of my girls! She chased me down in the parking lot to hug me. What a blessing that was!
And the best part is, Marley feels it, too. I’m not just the cool mom to her friends, I’m the cool mom to my own daughter.
I’m not saying all of this because I want to rub it in that I’m “cool”. I don’t consider myself cool at all. To be honest, if you really know me, I’m quite a dork. (A loveable dork, but a dork nonetheless.) And I’m certainly not parent of the year by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve screwed up a lot in my parenting. But this? This I’ve done right…
– By being present, I’ve gained trust that has continued into their pre-teen years.
– I’m comfortable with my daughter’s friends. I know who she hangs out with, and I trust them.
– Her friends know me, and know that I’m involved in my daughter’s life.
– By respecting their conversations at six years old, I’m much more likely to be trusted with their conversations at 16….when it’s the really tough stuff.
– Hopefully, I’ve set an example of how an adult should treat (and be treated by) adolescents, and they’ll remember that as they continue to grow up.
– My daughter sees that I genuinely care about her actions, her choice in friends, her education, and her life.
Now it’s your turn…
Are you present? Are you a cool mom?