Stop Shaming Me Because I'm A 'Cool' Mom

by Kimberly Valzania

I see you looking at me. You don’t approve. You’re skeptical, and maybe even a little bit angry. And I watch as you raise your eyebrows and whisper something to your friends, just like in high school. I see you hating on me, and I don’t care. Not really, anyway.

You think being a “cool” mom is synonymous with being a “bad” mom, and you’re happily sharing your opinion with anyone who will listen. Whatever, babe.

I guess you’re unhappy with that fact that my kids (and yours) actually like to be around me. And even though every parenting manual will say you shouldn’t be your child’s best friend, I seem to be breaking that rule. I’m cool, and my kids aren’t hoodlums. In fact, they are doing just fine.

Maybe you don’t like my mothering style because my way isn’t your way. I see your squinting, little glare. Your judgment. Oh, I see it. And while I don’t care, if I’m being honest, I could live without those passive attempts at shaming me.

Why not get to know me first?

When I became a mom, I decided I wouldn’t completely give up my life or my individuality for my kids. I love them fiercely, in much the same way that you love yours, but I also revel and bask in my own life, without hovering over theirs. For me, being a “good” mom doesn’t mean my interests, like yoga and running, must automatically take a backseat. If they did, I know I would resent my kids, which is detrimental to their growth and maturity.

It’s true — my kids are a bit free-range. I let them make mistakes and be themselves. They run around the neighborhood. They’re not always clean, and they’re a bit wild sometimes. But I’m also not up their asses every second of every day, correcting them and keeping tabs on them, and trying to make sure they are always perfect. Just because I don’t get too involved, I’m not a bad mom.

I seem to have the same taste in clothing as my teenage daughter, and I know that drives you crazy, but it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to judge me. Sometimes I find a funky top that I truly love at Forever 21. Sue me.

I don’t care if you think I’m trying to look young, or that my clothes aren’t age-appropriate. I don’t care if you don’t like my ankle tattoo or the streak of pink in my hair. I like what I’m wearing, and how I look. I like myself, and my body, and my daughter doesn’t seem to mind one bit. In fact, she borrows my clothes sometimes because they’re cool, and I think she is learning that body love and personal expression are the corner pieces of the self esteem puzzle.

Do you wonder why all the sleepovers are at my house? It’s because I don’t care if they “settle down” and go to sleep. Sleepovers are supposed to be loud, and crazy, and silly, and fun. And messy. I make a bowl of popcorn, and then I leave them alone.

And by the way, I’m the mom who unwittingly provides your teenage girl with a story to tell. (“Remember when Becca’s mom went to bed and we tip-toed out of the house and played ding-dong ditch over at Dylan’s house and his dad came out and we squealed all the way back home?!”). Yup, I didn’t know about it because I was sleeping. I respectfully backed out of their teenage fun. If ding-dong ditch still brings them joy, and that that’s the naughtiest thing they could come up with, I’m happy to sleep while they have their fun.

So, don’t wake me up to have your daughter check her phone because you’re texting her at midnight and you haven’t heard back. Don’t you think it’s kind of a good thing that she’s having fun instead of staring at her phone all night, as worried as you are? She’s fine.

And I know you hate it when your daughter comes home and says, “Becca’s mom is so cool!” It makes you cringe and roll your eyes.

Because you have a million rules. And yes, obviously there have to be some rules. We have rules too, but not as many as you think. What makes me different (and cool!) is that your rules seem to be more about control, while mine are more about respect.

You think that being involved and a perfect role model for your child at all times is what makes you a “good” mom, but I think the exact opposite is true. Kids (teenagers especially) need space to make mistakes and figure things out. And they are more apt to share what’s going on in their lives with us when they get that space. They also need real people in their lives. Ones who can give advice because they aren’t afraid to tell the truth and own their past mistakes.

There’s nothing a teenager hates more than being told what to do by someone who is fake or hypocritical. That’s why, when I told your teenage daughter the story about how I got drunk at a party when I was 15 and completely regretted it because I got sick and made-out with a gross guy who tried to push me further than I wanted to go, it wasn’t such a bad story to tell because it was real. And I know you don’t want to hear this, but your daughter found my story helpful.

But I want you to know that even though you don’t like me, even though I might leave a bad taste in your mouth, I’ve still got your back. When your daughter made an unkind remark about you, I quickly shut that shit down. When she wanted to talk to me about birth control, I told her nicely that it was a private conversation she needed to have with you. Because you’re her mom, not me.

And because I’m cool like that.