January 10 2017
City Living with Kids/Family/Happiness

The Upside of Losing Your Cool

parenthood losing your coolMy oldest son turned 9 this past week, and I am aghast over how all the little changes that have been quietly adding up over the past decade suddenly seem to have happened all at once, overnight.  Who is this tall boy creating his own video games and animations on Scratch (a topic for another day) and what did he do with my baby?

But here’s the thing… he isn’t the only one who has changed.  We all have.

Once you have children, your identity goes through a major transformation.  Unfortunately, part of that change is that you kind of no longer get to be cool. I’m sorry to say it.  Some may disagree.  But living in a place that has become a retreat for aging hipsters, I can tell you that once you have become a mother, it is all but impossible to maintain any uncut level of coolness.  You can be “cool, for a mom,” for sure.  But not, like, Janice Joplin cool.

As a youngster, I spent a fair amount of time being concerned with coolness.

I made calculations about the level of coolness of the music I listened to.  The friends I associated out with.  The places I ate and drank.  I even spent time thinking about the word “cool.”  I always found it cool that no word has ever been able to replace it.  The English language is a veritable graveyard of words that were meant to be generational expressions of coolness, only to be victims of their own finite era. Yet “cool” endures.  I had a hilarious conversation with my teen nieces and nephews recently where they schooled me on the new words for “cool.”  Some I knew.  Most were impossible for anyone my age to utter.  But “cool” was still cool.

But sorry moms and dads of the world – you’re not cool anymore.

You can hold on to your coolness for a little while when you have a baby. But once you really start to have conversations with these small people, the jig is up.  You can’t be walking down the street, asking a little person if they can hold in their pee, and be cool.  Basically, if you say anything that you could never picture Janice Joplin saying – you have irrevocably crossed the coolness divide.

But this is not an elegy for coolness!

On the contrary, it is a celebration of the beauty that comes once your kids strip you of those last vestiges of coolness.  Because they give you something much cooler in return.

Innocence makes an encore appearance in your life.

Parenthood radically resets your brain.  As you begin to relive the magic of childhood, you develop a powerful appreciation for the blinding beauty of innocence.  Suddenly you have a need to protect the pure, wholesome goodness that exists in your child’s soul and in the soft little bubble of universe surrounding them.  Our precious snowflakes, to borrow one of the more charming derogatory terms I’ve ever heard.  When  you have small kids, you get a mind-blowing window onto how a child sees the world and suddenly you want nothing more than for the world to truly be as they imagine it.

It’s a beautiful, moving spectacle.  Sarcasm and cynicism, the whole currency of cool in your previous life, no longer resonate.  They have zero value. Little kids are moved by wonder, laughter, honesty, silliness, love… kindness.  Once you relocate to their world, you realize what an absolute relief it is, what a refreshing reprieve from irony and vanity.  It is a world of sweetness that you get to revisit for a magical decade or so.

But then, the real world…

Protecting your child’s innocence is more than a challenge. You can’t do it forever.  Eventually they come to know the world as it is, not as they imagine it to be.  Now, more than ever, the I wish I could hide the reality of the world from my children.  But that is not possible.  So instead, my dream is that fostering and protecting this sense of rightness as long as I possibly can will spark my children to one day make the world a better place, for real.  I want to plant inspiration deep in their childhood consciousness so that, one day, they will have that special sauce that people who actually make a difference always have. Like little sleeper cells… only in a not evil kind of way. But most important…

I will never tell them they are naive.

I will never mock their idealism.

Those sweet memories and feelings from childhood – they are powerful threads.

I remember a moment at Christmas dinner a few years ago when all my nieces and nephews were anxious to be done with dinner and make their escape from the table.  My brother-in-law said in passing “Take a moment to remember what this feels like, kids… you’ll be trying to get this feeling back your whole life.”  It’s rare you hear someone drop that much wisdom so casually.  It has stayed with me ever since.

We do call back to those memories, those ideals.  They are dormant for a while, seeds waiting for sunlight.  But eventually we seek to wrap ourselves in those warm, cozy values again, if for nothing else than to usher in the dawn of our own children’s Peter Pan years.

One thing I know… I believe this generation will be better than mine.  I just need to get my kids safely from 12 to like 24.  Then it will be full steam ahead… world changing coolness, I have absolutely no doubt.

You Might Also Like

  • My three remind me daily that I’m no longer cool. In fact they claim I my never have been at all. 🙂 We drop hits to take so of these family moments in, because one day they will be gone. We are doing our best to get our three launched too. I have a feeling they will be better prepared that I ever was.

    • Thank you Catherine – I do agree. There is nothing more beautiful than looking at the world through the eyes of a child. How much better it would be if everyone spent more time doing that…

  • I wasn’t sure if “cool” was still cool, Linda, so it’s good to know. When I ask, I just get the eye roll.

    This was a beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder of the magic of childhood. I admit, it makes me sad in a happy sort of way. As I watch my kids grow into responsible, caring young adults, I’m grateful, but I cannot deny I miss the younger years sometimes. And I can’t fathom what it will be like when they go out and make their own way in the world.

    • Ha! I know – the lingo my nieces were filling me in on is hilarious. I suppose that is what we sounded like in high school? Watching my children, nieces and nephews all grow up gives me such a twinge of melancholy. But I do feel happy when I think about how they are all going to make the world so much better. I know they will.

  • As someone who never really achieved cool as a kid, I can thankfully say that “cool, for a Dad” is a pretty awesome place to be.

    Love your insights into the journey of parenthood. It just dawned on me yesterday that our youngest (the twins) will be 5 in a few short months. Mind blown. Where did the time go?

    And somehow the innocence seems to be challenged at an even younger age for our kids than for us. Family situations with friends, bullying, and unsettling news seem to creep in so young – kindergarten now.

    • They all grow up much faster. On the bright side, I have noticed my 14 year old nieces are so much better than I was at 14 – so poised and confident, so mature, self assured and natural in their own skin. But they have maintained an incredible amount of innocence somehow, which I think is what has made their maturity so beautiful instead of concerning (especially since they are ten feet tall and look much older than they are). This is not an easy feat, in the raising of a child today.

  • Oh, the innocence of youth. Thank you for reminding me of that sweet elixir. I remember in grade school how I wanted to be a professional dodge ball player when I grew up. I also thought I would eventually be a contestant on The Newlywed Game because all married couples went on that show. Awesome post, Linda. It’s wicked cool.

  • I enjoyed every minute of this article. I love your writing style and could easily read your book one day! It’s wonderful how you went through the transition from cool to that appreciation for innocence again. Your children are very lucky to have a mother so understanding of what it truly means to be a parent, to guide and to protect, but not to control. You might’ve lost your Janis Joplin coolness factor, but you’re a rock star in my book!

    1. Aleks F. 03:41pm 11 January - 2017 - Reply

      I enjoyed every minute of this article. I love your writing style and could easily read your book one day! It’s wonderful how you went through the transition from cool to that appreciation for innocence again. Your children are very lucky to have a mother so understanding of what it truly means to be a parent, to guide and to protect, but not to control. You might’ve lost your Janis Joplin coolness factor, but you’re a rock star in my book!

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:22pm 11 January - 2017 - Reply

        Oh Aleks, thank you! That means a lot. I have no doubt you will do the same when your time comes! -Linda xo

    2. Mr. Groovy 08:47am 11 January - 2017 - Reply

      Oh, the innocence of youth. Thank you for reminding me of that sweet elixir. I remember in grade school how I wanted to be a professional dodge ball player when I grew up. I also thought I would eventually be a contestant on The Newlywed Game because all married couples went on that show. Awesome post, Linda. It’s wicked cool.

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:24pm 11 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you Mr. Groovy. This is an insane Newlywed Game clip!

    3. Chris @ Keep Thrifty 12:53am 11 January - 2017 - Reply

      As someone who never really achieved cool as a kid, I can thankfully say that “cool, for a Dad” is a pretty awesome place to be.

      Love your insights into the journey of parenthood. It just dawned on me yesterday that our youngest (the twins) will be 5 in a few short months. Mind blown. Where did the time go?

      And somehow the innocence seems to be challenged at an even younger age for our kids than for us. Family situations with friends, bullying, and unsettling news seem to creep in so young – kindergarten now.

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:25am 11 January - 2017 - Reply

        They all grow up much faster. On the bright side, I have noticed my 14 year old nieces are so much better than I was at 14 – so poised and confident, so mature, self assured and natural in their own skin. But they have maintained an incredible amount of innocence somehow, which I think is what has made their maturity so beautiful instead of concerning (especially since they are ten feet tall and look much older than they are). This is not an easy feat, in the raising of a child today.

    4. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 10:43pm 10 January - 2017 - Reply

      I wasn’t sure if “cool” was still cool, Linda, so it’s good to know. When I ask, I just get the eye roll.

      This was a beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder of the magic of childhood. I admit, it makes me sad in a happy sort of way. As I watch my kids grow into responsible, caring young adults, I’m grateful, but I cannot deny I miss the younger years sometimes. And I can’t fathom what it will be like when they go out and make their own way in the world.

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:28am 11 January - 2017 - Reply

        Ha! I know – the lingo my nieces were filling me in on is hilarious. I suppose that is what we sounded like in high school? Watching my children, nieces and nephews all grow up gives me such a twinge of melancholy. But I do feel happy when I think about how they are all going to make the world so much better. I know they will.

    5. Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama 02:21pm 10 January - 2017 - Reply

      Absolutely lovely. I, too, am so grateful for the return to wonder. What an incredible gift they give us!

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:29am 11 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you Catherine – I do agree. There is nothing more beautiful than looking at the world through the eyes of a child. How much better it would be if everyone spent more time doing that…

    6. jeremy@thirstydaddy 10:21am 10 January - 2017 - Reply

      love this. I have a 5 year old and a 17 year old, and if I could tell them anything, it would be to slow down, enjoy being a kid for as long as you can

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:48am 10 January - 2017 - Reply

        Jeremy – thank you! I was just checking out your blog… I love it! Instant fan! Any man who wears Storm Trooper socks is alright by me. -Linda

    7. Brian @ Debt Discipline 09:12am 10 January - 2017 - Reply

      My three remind me daily that I’m no longer cool. In fact they claim I my never have been at all. 🙂 We drop hits to take so of these family moments in, because one day they will be gone. We are doing our best to get our three launched too. I have a feeling they will be better prepared that I ever was.

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:56am 10 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thanks Brian – it is amazing how all these kids are so much more mature and advanced than when I was that age! It is really a marvel. A mixed blessing though, in some ways… -Linda

    Leave a Comment

    CommentLuv badge