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It’s Hard to Be the Cool Mom From 400 Miles Away

January 4, 2014

I’d never set a goal to be The Cool Mom – shoot, never set a goal to be a Mom, but stuff happens – so I kind of surprised myself when I realized that I missed my kid, but also missed her friends when they all took off for college. They’re quite a collection of characters, and I’ll always be happy to know that their friends have felt comfortable enough in our home to raid the fridge without asking, that they could name and loved all of our pets, and that counted on our family as an extension of their own.

It goes back to their elementary school days. Sure, I always had a full-time job, but found time to volunteer in the kids’ classrooms. And, sure, the girls were mortified when I showed up for their Hallowe’en parties, tricked out in crinolines and a Marge Simpson wig – what else would the Tooth Fairy wear – with little toothbrushes for earrings and a necklace made of floss, handing out sample-sized tubes of Crest instead of candy. And sure, it was fun the time we made Rice Krispie treats in the shape of giant Hershey Kisses, wrapped them in foil and turned the little paper tab into the girls’ Valentine messages.

Fun until I heard another parent as I crossed the playground snark, “What’s Martha-freaking-Stewart come up with THIS time?” as she carried in a box of chocolate-chip cookies, made holiday special with red sprinkles.

Wait a minute! You’re threatened by ME? As a Mom? Can’t be, I’m no role model. I was a cocktail waitress, for Chrissakes. I swear like a longshoreman when I stub a toe and don’t care who hears it! I have a full time job – I’m no kind of Mom.

My kids sometimes thought it was weird as we were working on those classroom projects, but they always were “we” efforts. If one of the kids came up with an idea for a treat or a party or some craft item just for the hell of it, we’d give it a shot together. Witches’ hands made of popcorn for your Hallowe’en party? You betcha! Let’s go buy a box of clear plastic gloves and see how they turn out. But you’re going to help.

Soft sculpture fairy wands for party favors for your birthday? Why not? Home Depot has a sale on 1/4” dowel rods, and I’ve got a bucket of glitter and nowhere else to use it!

Set up a craft table out back just for days your friends want to come over after school? I’m in! I’d never set out to be a Mom’s-mom but, by cracky, once I had the job I was going to take my best shot at it. Other parents may have been snarky about it, but the ones who mattered – my daughters and their friends – loved it.

And that carried on through their High School and beyond. Their friends know us and seem to like spending time with our family.

Strange to think it, but my daughter and I have grown closer in the months since she left for the dorm life; the responsibilities of looming adulthood now on her shoulders, and the  day-to-day cares now hers, not mine. We’re somehow freer to talk (OK, text) about things that matter and – better still – things that don’t. She’s never been one much for small talk, which is one way in which we differ. Both kids have always found it embarrassing that Mom can chat up anyone, anywhere, and <shudder> enjoys doing it. Especially when the chattees were their friends. “Mom, do you think you could dial it back this time when Jessica comes over?”  Sorry, Kitten, but it’s my house, and my rules. People will feel welcome. Always.

And so, it’s come to this. Our first Christmas break from university, and my daughter is home for the month. We’ve seen the parade of her lifelong pals, all back in town from their far-flung academic adventures. All laughing in the living room or crowded around the fire pit in the back yard, swapping stories that are so different from one another’s but with a common thread of shared lifetimes. It makes me very, very happy.  As a bonus, though, there are new friends!  My daughter’s college roommate is here for the weekend. Even though she grew up in Orange County, less than an hour away, she’d never been to L.A.  I’m not judging, but… REALLY?

Anyway, Savannah’s showing her “her L.A.,” and hoping not to scare the girl. She seems pretty sweet, and they went out with some of my daughter’s high school pals this evening – Venice, I think –  hoping she didn’t scare the girl.  Time to forge new familiarities, and I’m glad to be a part of it again.

As a bonus, though, since this was a “new friend” rather than one of the usual old ones, my daughter went on a cleaning binge before her roomie got here. Top to bottom, cleaning products used, surfaces dusted, floors swept and vacuumed. Wow. I took care of the kitchen – I’m fussy about my kitchen – but when the kids were done with their room and the rest of the house, it was like a little Christmas miracle.

I wonder if I can invite more of her college pals into the fold…



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One Comment
  1. Wow! Great job. You’re putting your heart into the fold. Some people put their talent on the stage, you put your talent into your life, and some elsewhere for sure. Keep doing this. You’ll like what you see.

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