My mom friends have started showing up to play dates and volunteer days with spankin’ new tattoos on their previously un-inked bodies. A few months ago, I held a friend’s hand as the mother of three had her nose pierced for the first time. Another friend whose kids are tweens walked into a Harley dealership and drove out with a chopper. As for me, I won’t give up hip hop or live rock shows. Ever.
Not so long ago, I thought our penchant for these acts of rebellion would disappear as the clock ticked from our twenties into our thirties and forties. But maybe the cutoff between when we were kids and when we had kids just isn’t as clear as it used to be.
I’m not saying I don’t love a cardigan, I just wear it with pleather leggings and Frye boots. I crank up Social Distortion on the way to Costco. There’s 2Pac and Guns n’ Roses on my housecleaning mix, and the kids seem to appreciate the DeadMau5 tracks blasting through the speakers from time to time. I’m not inked, but several of my friends with kids have been talking for years about their plans for new tattoos; maybe after the last baby, maybe when their child graduates high school.
Are we really still trying to be cool, and if so, does this desire to stay “cool” override our status as parents? Can’t we be rebellious and youthful and make sure the kids are dressed, oatmeal’d, and sent off to school with homework tucked neatly into their backpacks? I think it’s easier than ever to try to keep up with fashion and culture, but should we still want to?
Some might argue that we have more important things to do, like cleaning the bathrooms and prepping dinner, before thinking about buzzing the sides of our head. And what do our small rebellions say to our kids? Is it possible to be cool while effectively communicating to our kids that being cool really isn’t everything?
I’m glad I’m a grown up. I love being a parent. I don’t want to be a teenager again, that’s for sure. The difference now is that instead of seeking external acceptance from others, my sense of what’s cool is driven from an internal place, from how I feel about myself. My friend who got a tattoo a few months ago didn’t do it to fit in, no one but her husband and a few close friends knew. If only our kids could grow up to be satisfied with that, too.
I’m not sure what will happen when our teenagers start rebelling while we’re also rebelling. Maybe they’ll have to turn to button-down shirts and Tommy Dorsey to snag our attention. Whatever happens, and no matter how carefully we tuck in our tanks to cover up a fresh tramp stamp, we’re the moms, and this is our stereo; we’re still the coolest people in this car.