I’m not sure when I became the uncool parent. There had to be a specific moment where I lost my touch; although, I’m at a loss to know exactly when that was. Once upon a time, my kids thought I was the hippest chick on the planet. Everything I did made them laugh. Everything I said was funny. They wanted to hang out with me 24/7 and couldn’t imagine ever growing up and leaving me. I swear, I’m not making this up. They told me that themselves.
Let’s flash forward a few years. My children no longer want to be seen with me in public. If I go to the mall with my two youngest daughters these days (twenty and thirteen-years-old respectively), they walk two paces behind me pretending not to know me…unless of course there’s something they want. Then suddenly they run toward me in slow motion, as if in a bad movie montage, hands outreached toward me as they reach for my wallet. Typically, that is the moment when they tell me they love me. But five minutes later, they’re back to trailing behind like they’ve never even met me.
Now, there are times where I say something incredibly witty and charming, something that most people would find humorous and potentially life-altering. Something an adult would slap me on the back for and say, “You’re so funny. I think I peed a little!” But instead of realizing my potential as a possible stand-up comic, able to humor the masses and cause people to piddle themselves, my children will turn to me and say, with a deadpanned expression, “You’re not funny. Don’t do that.”
It’s a no-win situation.
I’d like to think it’s because they’re not cool and out of touch with the rest of mankind. But I’m fairly certain it’s because I’m not Angelina Jolie or Sarah Jessica Parker, instead stuck with a boring woman who wears nothing but sweat pants every day, doing nothing but typing on a laptop all day. I’m not glamorous or exciting.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am
But I digress.
At some point, I lost the title of “cool mom”. Apparently, I walk too loud. I talk too much. And I say certain words wrong. (In my defense, I grew up thinking there was an R in the middle of the word “wash”.) But I don’t even have to say anything anymore. Even a sideways glance from me can be a potential deal breaker when we’re in public, with one of the girls mumbling under her breath, “Stop embarrassing us.”
I wonder if Madonna’s kids are embarrassed by her past antics? Do you think Jennifer Garner’s children roll their eyes every time they see her on one of those credit card commercials? I’d bet money that Tina Fey’s kids will eventually be mortified whenever they accidentally come across one of her old SNL skits. I’m thinking (and hoping) that I’m not alone in this personal hell. I have to assume that all parents go through this eventually.
I remember the good old days when all I had to do was talk like a duck and cross my eyes, and my daughters would nearly pee themselves from laughter. And those moments where I was able to spread peanut butter evenly without ripping the slice of bread or fixing a broken zipper? I never felt more accomplished than when my children looked up at me, mouth wide in awe, utterly impressed at my obvious superhuman abilities. But the stakes have now been raised to an impossible level. Nothing I do is impressive or funny. I could shoot lightning out of my fingers to start a fire or fart a rainbow, and my daughters would shrug and go back to staring at their phones, completely indifferent to my personal achievements.
It’s my own fault, really. I was lulled into a false sense of security over the years, my children constantly showing me affection, saying cute little things like, “You funny mama” or “You the best mama ever.” Turns out, children are fickle things, only seeing their parents as amusing playthings until they’re old enough to see through our lame façade. Truth is, in their eyes, I’ve turned into old gum that’s lost it flavor, spit out and stuck to someone’s shoe.
Okay…maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the picture.
And no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the cool-factor back. It doesn’t matter how many books I publish, who I know, or what I’ve done. I doubt there’s anything I could do to impress my offspring these days. My husband and I often joke that even if I manage to pull off the dream of all dreams and write something that ends up on the big screen and am invited to the red-carpet premiere, I’d still manage to barely find myself a blip on their radar of “cool”. Unless, of course, I somehow managed to get them photos with their Hollywood faves…someone like Andy Samburg, Charlie Hunnam, or Gal Gadot. Then, my status as greatest-mom-ever would rise to its highest ranking in years…at least until the next day when I say something amusing while strolling down the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They would ultimately roll their eyes and fall-in behind me, two paces back, and pretend as if they don’t know me. And even then, if I remind them I was the one responsible for them meeting Andy, Charlie, and Gal, they’d reply with, “Well, that was yesterday. This is now.”
Recently, I thought back to my own adolescence, remembering how embarrassing my mother was on a daily basis. Was I judging her too harshly? Was she actually cool, and was I just too hypercritical to see it? But then I look at old photos of us and remember how she tried to dress me like a fifty-year-old woman and forced me to tuck my shirts into my underwear. And let’s not forget the time she forced me to dress like a pumpkin when I was thirteen-years-old for a Halloween party. I’ll never forget the horror of cute boys talking to every girl there…except me. Or the multiple times she dressed me as Uncle Sam to sing patriotic tunes to the elderly at retirement centers…and I realize I was justified at my embarrassment.
But I’m much cooler, right? Right? Am I delusional?
The only satisfaction I gain from all of this is that one day, my children’s own children will repay the favor. One day, they’ll be flying high, thinking they’re the best parent in the world, their child worshipping the ground they walk on. The next, their teenager will stare at their handheld holo-phone and mutter, “You’re not funny. Don’t do that.”
A girl can dream.
*Disclaimer: This post was written tongue-in-cheek. My kids are great…the ungrateful brats.