I became a parent later than most– in my 40’s. Although I wasn’t by any objective standard, I spent several years after my daughter was born and came into our family, feeling like a young mother. I wasn’t a young mother, but I sure felt like one. Things felt new and different and hopeful and exciting. Walking around that first summer with my very new and small baby– it all made me feel like a young mother. I had a couple of wonderful nephews by that time (I still have them, though they too aren’t as young as they were then), but they were young enough still (8 and under) that in terms of my family– I was still used to being the younger generation for many purposes. Like for example my nephews weren’t clued in to pop music at that point. If they knew popular dance moves at that point, they weren’t doing them– at least not in my presence. Then they all started to grow up, and particularly my daughter.
I have had to get used to no longer being cool. She is cool. I am uncool. I still sometimes feel cool, but as she gets older she thinks I am not. She wears cooler things than what looks good on me at this point. She and my nephews know things that are passed on from young person to young person, things that I don’t know and have never heard of. Music. Turns of phrase. Actors and tv shows.
It’s a really startling thing to have moved from cool to uncool. I still don’t really think I am totally uncool, but it’s all very complicated and perhaps I really am totally uncool at this point. My daughter can definitely do certain dance moves that I can kind of replicate– but well– really not.
Recently, we discovered together, some new music that we like a lot and I loaded it onto my Ipod. I am not someone who walks around plugged into my Ipod all the time or even most of the time, but sometimes I do and lately, with this new music I do take the Ipod to the grocery store and out with me as I or we do things. But I notice that I practically have to dance when I listen to certain things. If my daughter is with me and I start to sway or bop even a little to the music, she tells me to “stop it, you’re embarrassing me”– I think those are her exact words. I don’t much like it. Being embarrassing rather than cool, that is. I do notice that other young people– people much older than she is but much, much younger than I am, listen to their Ipods all the time without so much as a twitch, let alone breaking out into hip-moving dance steps or belting out the refrain of a great song as they stand in line somewhere or walk past me on the sidewalk. So I’m thinking that partly I’m just not cool anymore– that a certain part of cool just simply has to do with being part of a youth culture that no matter what I know, listen to or care about, I’ve simply aged out of.
And I’m also thinking that part of being a parent is offering yourself up as the uncool foil as your child or children age into cool-ness. I do have a friend who is the mother of a very old friend of mind– she’s in her 80’s. She is, and of course has always been, older than I am– since I met her 37 years ago, when I got close to her daughter, my good friend. She (my friend’s mother who is also my friend) is, in my book, quite amazing and now, as she has moved into an age bracket that we often consider “old” I do consider her extremely cool. She always was, but I am noticing it more now than I used to when I felt cooler myself. I’m not in my 80’s but of course if I am lucky that is where I am heading. So maybe I too am circling back toward cool, but for now, I just have to wait it out and try to walk around without dancing or singing as I listen to very cool music on my Ipod. And I have to find and keep my own “cool” even as my daughter reprimands me for being just so not.