By definition and necessity, my parents were not what most would consider "cool parents. However, 30 years later, I find myself making so many of the same parenting decisions they did. Turns out, being the "cool mom" is not even remotely worth it most of the time, which is a good reminder because, well, I'm not a "cool mom."
One week every summer, my parents would take our family to the beach or to my grandparents' house or to a chilly cottage on the Maine coast (which I would enjoy 100 percent more now than I ever did back then), and the tradition was that they'd buy one single variety pack of those tiny, brand cereal boxes. That was the one and only time, each year, my parents bought pre-packaged food. The rest of the year, it was store brand knock-offs in those plastic baggies with the fold-over part that meant everything got stale before lunch in the summer heat.
I never had a single shirt with a Disney character on it, and even my birthday parties were brand-free. Until I was at least 10, I wasn't allowed to watch anything other than public radio and a handful of movies. It was a different era, so I barely noticed all these quirks until I was quite a bit older. In fact, some of them I didn't realize until my daughter was born and I was confronted with some of the same parenting decisions my parents were. I've realized they figured out early on that being the "cool parents" wasn't worth it (literally) at all, and they marched to the tune of their own hippy, non-branded drum. I'm so glad they did and, hopefully, one day, my daughter will agree.
When Your Kid Wants The Trendiest Clothes
My child is never going to be dressed in the trendiest clothes. The older she gets, the more I've realized just how dirty small humans are. I'd rather have to chuck a pair of Carter's $3 leggings when I can't get the enormous blueberry stain out than a more expensive pair. From playground dirt to oh, you know, literally every meal, kids just make too much of a mess to wear fancy things. Maybe when you're 10, kid. Maybe.
When You're "Supposed" To Carry A Cute Baby Bag
I have to admit that a cute baby bag was one of the things I first wanted when I became a mom. Little did I know how quickly those things are covered in formula or baby food.
Mine was filled with animal cracker crumbs almost instantly, and was constantly overflowing with half-eaten snacks and leaking sippy cups. Cute baby bag? Not worth it at all. Now I know to opt for something washable or wipeable, and that not showing milk stains is the holy grail of diaper bags.
When There's A New, Must-Have App
The other day I got myself all worked up that my daughter needs to start using some educational and age-appropriate apps. She's really not allowed any screens, but for some reason I freaked out that maybe she's not learning enough without the latest app.
Yeah, I promptly threw out that theory when I couldn't remember my app store password. After 20 minutes of trying, I counted it as an omen that she was most definitely not supposed to be using any sort of educational apps. Maybe by the time she's 5 I'll have found that password.
When Organic Snacks Are Ridiculous Expensive
My siblings and I still laugh about how adamant my parents were about pre-packaged snacks when we were little. We used to be so jealous of kids who showed up to lunch with those little 6-packs of peanut butter crackers when we'd have the fold-over plastic baggie with Saltines and crunchy peanut butter that my dad had smeared together that morning.
However, you now what? It built character. So, sorry kid, you're probably going to have lame snacks for the rest of your formative years (and they won't likely be organic, either).
When There's A "Hip" Kids' Song
See above for the reason I probably can't download it to begin with, but I also know that if I get "Elmo's Got The Moves" stuck in my head for one more minute, we're all going to suffer.
When Branded Items Are Expensive
A friend referenced this Simplicity Parenting book at a mom's group a few months ago, and said it explained that branded merchandise is a trap designed to get parents to buy more and more, well, branded merchandise.
Just like that, I had justification as to why I wasn't going to allow that junk to take over my house. I haven't read the book and I barely felt the need to justify my hatred for branded cups and pajamas and sneakers and toys, but if you're looking for one, apparently that's a good one.
When "Fancy" Daycares Are All The Rage
My daughter is in daycare, but it's not the fanciest, trendiest, coolest daycare on the block. It doesn't teach her a second language by the time she's 2 and breakfast is sometimes French toast sticks. It doesn't practice the latest Montessori/Waldorf fusion education, but she will be just fine, nonetheless. It wasn't the easiest decision, and dropping her off at daycare is still the hardest thing I do every day, but it's what's best and most doable for our family.
When Other "Cool Moms" Go Out All The Time
Oh gosh, being that kind of "always going out and doing exciting things" cool mom isn't even remotely worth it. I was barely that kind of cool non-mom before I had my daughter, there's no way I could pretend to manage it now. Give me a glass of wine on the patio, or even sushi happy hour, so I can squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep before the small human wakes up at zero-dark-thirty.
When I'm "Supposed" To Be My Kid's Best Friend
My job isn't to be my child's best friend, it's to be her mother. While that probably won't make me the coolest mom, but hopefully one day she'll understand that my role wasn't to let her get away with murder so that she'd like me. It's to guide and shape her and teach her to be a wonderful human, and sometimes that means not being the coolest mom on the block. I'm OK with that.