I’ve Turned Uncool

The best thing about being an adult besides being able to drink beer and eat ice cream for lunch is the the self confidence that comes with age. All those teenage years fretting about who was dating whom (hah! like anyone asked me on a date), whether you had the “in” jeans (in my time, skin-tight Guess jeans with ankle zippers), whether the college you got into was good enough for your mother to brag about while in line with the other mothers at the grocery store (mine wasn’t).

In my 20s, the scrutiny switched to whether or not I was going to the cool bars and clubs. Was my Friday and Saturday night wild enough to share with my twenty-something office mates on Monday? Heading to a lounge with a $20 cover charge and no name on its door to advertise its whereabouts? Shouting to be heard inside? Paying too much for drinks? Social smoking? All cool.

I’ve reached 35(!), and while I’m not so self assured that  I don’t give a damn about what other people think of me, I am far less concerned with the cool factor. Last week I was in New York at a conference and started talking to a pair of 20-somethings about living in Manhattan vs. living in Brooklyn.

“Parts of Brooklyn are more suburban…if you like that sort of thing,” one girl told me.

“Suburban?” I asked.

“You know, baby strollers everywhere. Station wagons.”

Sounds great, I thought to myself. Very livable.

“I moved into the West Village,” she continued. “It’s a lot more fun.” She added that her kitchen was a hotplate and a microwave. Um, sounds great.

Because I look a lot younger than I am, this woman had no idea that I was a station wagon-driving, stroller-totin’ mama. I realized at that moment that I could be my own arbiter of cool.

What’s cool for me?

  • Hatchback cars
  • Pixar films (fun for kids, innuendo and jokes for grown-ups)
  • Being in bed at 9:30
  • Mid-rise jeans that do not cost $200
  • Target (groceries, toys, clothes, prescriptions, and alcohol in one spot? Genius!)
  • O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack (kid music that’s not kid music)
  • Flat, slip-on shoes (I [heart] Danskos and Privos)

But I did break down and buy myself a pair of skinny jeans — no ankle zips, though!

PHOTO:

Sometimes “Good Enough” Is Good Enough

Before I had my little girl, I compiled a mental list of parenting practices that I would never partake in. They included:

* Never using the TV or movies as a babysitter.
* Eating mostly organic foods.
* Making sure my daughter did not exist on a diet of chicken nuggets, mac n’ cheese, and hot dogs.
* Not resorting to bribery to get her to do something.
* Using positive parenting practices.

Then, I had my daughter. One by one, my vision of being a paragon of parenting virtue shattered:

* When I’m desperate for adult conversation during dinner, I’ve been know to pop in a Clifford The Big Red Dog DVD for her to watch while I chat with my husband and friends.
* Organic-only was breaking my budget, so I do some organic and some “regular” food.
* We always have an industrial-sized box of chicken nuggets in the freezer, hot dogs in the fridge, and mac n’ cheese in the cupboard.
* She’s getting a fabulous present if and when she gives up her paci.
* Calmly saying, “oranges are not for throwing” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as shrieking, “Stop it right now! Don’t throw! What are you thinking!?”

I used to beat myself up over this stuff, especially when I heard about parents who only allow 30 minutes of TV a week, or families who assiduously research preschools and their curriculum (I signed up for the preschool with the open spot — sight unseen). But then I spoke with my therapist about it, and she uttered five words that have become my mantra: Sometimes “good enough” is okay.

The tension in my shoulders melted. Really? Good enough? Not perfect? Not 100% all the time? The  more I considered this approach, the more it made sense. I could be tensed and stressed about making dinner, proper discipline, and having a clean condo, or, I could let go of my expectations, relax, and probably be a happier mama and a more enjoyable companion for my husband.

We’re all pulled in so many directions each day with demands from spouses/partners, children, work,  family, and friends, is it really necessary to judge ourselves so harshly?  I don’t think so.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post. EvonneY also blogs about navigating the fine balance between self, mother, and wife at Arlington Mama. PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbowen/ / CC BY 2.0