I know, it’s a thing. The final nail in the coffin, the death blow to what was once a carefree, fashionable, hip time of your life. And now. Now you have a house in the suburbs and a low-maintenance hair cut and your bra looks kind of like those gurney things they use to hoist captive whales back into the sea.
Now you barely recognize yourself when you look in the mirror. For one, you’re pretty sure you used to brush your hair. And you’re almost positive you wore pants with a zipper and a button on a pretty regular basis at some point. You carry around a bag that may or may not prominently feature frolicking bunnies and holds pacifiers and rattling, shiny, spinning toys and cloths that are specifically designed to soak up bodily fluids and you aren’t even going to a rave.
But a minivan? That is just so uncool.
Pull up a chair, I have some sad news friend. You are not cool.
At some point we all have to accept it. Some take it easier than others; for some of us being cool was only a fleeting moment, a wisp of time we just barely managed to grasp with slipping fingertips. But for some it’s a hard fall down.
Oh sure, you can be a ‘cool mom.’ But cool mom is a separate category all its own in a hierarchy that goes something like:
- Robert Downey Jr.
- People who hate hipsters
- Youtube videos of cats
- That guy that’s always hanging out at the Apple Store
- cool mom
But here’s the thing about not being cool: it’s freeing. The not-cool get to like things, really like things. Enthusiastically and whole heartedly and without a trace of irony. And liking things feels pretty great, actually.
My kids are still mostly unaware of the pressure to be cool, maybe because they’re homeschooled, or maybe just because they are still young enough to be on the other side of that Holden Caulfield-esque cliff; yet to tumble over to feelings and thoughts and personas they aren’t quite ready for and may never feel entirely right.
They mostly like what they like, and what other people think about who they are or what they love or how they love is still of no consequence. I wish it could stay that way always, but I see hints of it creeping in. My nine year old asking if his outfit looks okay, if he should spike his hair up. Or the time my oldest wanted to get a pink scooter, but worried people would laugh at him.
They might, I told him. But you have to decide for yourself how much that matters. And it really shouldn’t matter much at all.
He got a green one. Sometimes it matters even when it shouldn’t.
But being cool? I’d rather they like the things they like without them being reduced to a guilty pleasure or love-to-hate or hate-to-love. Without cynicism or irony or chilly detachment because being yourself or loving unencumbered can feel too vulnerable. Because others will scoff at your pink scooter and you love your pink scooter, so really, aren’t they just scoffing at you?
So okay, maybe you just can’t take that final step. Maybe spending your mornings singing to a clown puppet at Gymboree and your afternoons marooned on the couch with a cranky toddler while trying to pretend you aren’t secretly hoping Dora will just get lost in the jungle forever is about all you can take. Fair enough.
Despite being able to admit that fanny packs are a bit of engineering genius - money and keys, wet wipes and snacks and probably a few rocks and a wilting dandelion because I always seem to have those in my purse - just strapped conveniently around my waist, safe and sound and secure, I refuse to even entertain the idea of wearing one.
We all have our lines. That happens to be mine. Maybe a minivan is yours.
(Or maybe you bike everywhere because that’s just how committed to you are to being an eco-warrior. You have surpassed the limits of cool or not-cool. If so: kudos. I could never quite manage the family bike ride. Too much whining, and most of it wasn’t even me.)
But one last pitch before you get back to vacuuming cracker crumbs out of your sporty crossover or sensible yet sleek sedan or hulking SUV:
Dual sliding doors will change your life.
Jill Vettel is a writer and stay at home mom of three in Durham, North Carolina. She spends her spare time daydreaming about automatic dual sliding doors or even just a second car. She has probably never been cool.