Can "Cool" and "Mom" Go Together?

Years and years ago, I remember having a conversation with my Uncle K about being a parent, specifically about marrying someone who is good with kids. He said something at the time about how even the most polished person is changed by children and that it's hard to be stuffy when a baby barfs down your pant leg. I thought of that a while back when the dry cleaner couldn't resurrect a spewed-on suit coat. David was upset, and still has issues with the loving snail-trails that the baby leaves below his knees, but he always reflects on the fact that he was the one in his family that initiated every new car with a car-sickness episode. He knows how his dad felt now, and we all move on.

I've always been a little socially self-conscious, and I never really aspired to ultimate coolness anyway. But still I'm not adjusting as well As David is to the occasional humiliations of parenthood. I try to pull it off, but sometimes, as you know, I can't even walk without difficulty. I mean, I can pack an inconspicuous pack of gear for an outing, I have the stroller of my dreams, I will brave a museum and sometimes a restaurant with children in tow, I can make nice treats, I give lots of hugs, I'm becoming somewhat expert at picking the right battles, I have been known to think up some great solutions on the fly, and I've more or less lived down my reputation at Target. (It's been two years!!!) All of this makes me feel like I can really do this thing. With finesse, even. And then there are other moments...

I got new glasses a while back. I like them, they're groovy and cute, and they help me see better. I really just have an astygmatism, but you'd be surprised at how much a light prescription improves my view of the world.

But the rain and mist and coolish mornings sometimes fog up the lenses, not to mention the other fun blurriness I've forgotten that comes from an infant who doesn't understand that the things on my face are not a toy. Sometimes when I've got a baby in arms, an escapee three-year-old, and an impatient five-year-old trying to make it to the car in the morning, the lens wiping has to wait and I proceed hurriedly in a blur. Which is what I did the other morning.

I drove all the way to preschool with the boys (about 10 minutes) and the fog cleared off the lenses, but the smudgy hand-printishness did not, so I decided that as soon as I dropped the boys off at the door, I would stop and wipe my glasses really good before I drove back home.

"Hi, boys' preschool teachers! How was your weekend? Great. We sure enjoyed the five minutes that it wasn't raining on Saturday. We're doing well, keeping busy, anxious for summer...blah, blah, blah..." all with my happy morning mommy smile and my cool new glasses on.

I pulled away from the carpool lane and stopped over like I had planned to and went to wipe the smudges off my glasses. Oh dear. That's not just a smudge. That's a diced green onion. From when I took my glasses off while making dinner last night. OK, embarrassing. Oh, no. Oh, dear. That's not a dried green onion.

Remember the infant who doesn't know mommy's glasses are not a toy? He also has a little cold, with a crusty/runny nose. That he likes to wipe with his hands before I can get to him with a tissue. And he touches my glasses while I try to get to him with a tissue. Hmmm. It seems that there are smudges, and then there are smudges. And I need to at least confirm their size and color before I leave the house in a blur.


David and I had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting last Sunday. The topic was teaching small children gospel principles so they are prepared for baptism. David was holding the sleeping baby while I was speaking and the boys were coloring quietly in the pews. Until Calvin took the color that Henry wanted. Or some other such crime.

Henry has no ability to whisper, particularly not when he is trying to assert his rights to the green crayon. He full-on pitched a fit right in front of me while I was at the pulpit sharing my pearls of wisdom on parenting (I only have two such pearls, but still...). Henry's fit reached pitch volume just as I was trying to say that kids don't do things on purpose to make your life difficult - they do things because they are kids. Huh.

Anyway, David had nowhere to put the baby, Henry was yellingyellingYELLING and writhing under the pew where no one else could reach him, and I was about to stop midsentence and go down there and carry him out myself when Auntie S finally got a hold of him and exited. I made some kind of recovery comment like, "Last year, I thought the problem was because church was during naptime, but this year, I'm beginning to see that something else is at play." (We have 8 a.m. church now.) Everyone laughed and I concluded and sat down, sweating like a pig, not remembering anything that I said, and thinking that I would come back to church when my children are grown.

So...about the "cool/mom" question? Five years into it, I'm beginning to have my doubts that they belong in the same sentence. Ever.


NOBODY said...

Okay, I don't embarrass very easily, but the glasses thing---hilariously mortifying. I wish I could have been that teacher.

And Henry's fit in the middle of you talk---you can't pay for that kind of timing! You handled it so classy---like you always are. Even with green "smudges" on your glasses. :)

Real said...

Our family was asked to give a short presentation on the joys of family life or something similar at a fireside. My baby started wiggling and then grabbing the microphone and then yelling. At first I tried juggling her around to my other arm and bouncing her. I don't even know what else I tried. Eventually we just had to stop while I got her settled. I was sweating, too (and I actually really like being in front of people). And I "recovered" by saying something like, "Isn't family the greatest blessing of all?"


I love the juicy bugger on your glasses!

MotherT said...

Amazingly enough, I found out that I was a "cool mom" when my girls were teenagers. Trust me though, it wasn't my daughters that thought that--it was their friends!! I was told repeatedly by their friends how cool it was that I would let them hang out at our house (so I KNEW what was going on), and that I would let them eat with us, and go to church with us.

After my girls were married and on their own, then THEY decided that I was a cool mom, too.

Aimee said...

Maybe the teacher never noticed the big green one? Hold that thought...

Our most embarrassing church moment with kids came during the passing of the sacrament. When the water cups were in front of us, Andrea (age 3) sprayed a wet, juicy sneeze over the whole lot. It was disgusting to me, and I'm her mom! I tried to clue in the cute 12 year old boy that these weren't suitable for distribution, but to no avail. I shrunk with mortification when the poor family behind us, who in their act of faith, not only renewed their covenants with the Lord, but placed their faith that our daughter was not highly contagious.

Shannon said...

Okay, I love Aimee's story as much as yours Traci. Awesome. When Savannah used to display antisocial behavior, I also used to tell people that she was "just tired". . . . until I realized that she apparently is "just tired" just about all the time. Now I tell people that she's just starting her moody teenage years early.