Sometimes walking in the art lined halls of a children’s school brings back the nostalgia of our own youth. Memories of friendships, young love, learning and new adventures remind us our childhood feels so long ago, and yet just yesterday in the same breath. Then one stroll through the chitter chatter of the cafeteria, and it is obvious that although things are very different from 30 years ago. This is one thing that remains constant.
The division of “cool people” can be seen at first glance, by anyone, with even average eyesight. There are the mean girls, the sporty girls, the smart ones, the art lovers and the inbetweeners. There are those wishing and hoping to achieve higher status and ones who always sit alone, not by choice. Then, just on the outskirts of the room, there is that one small group, wise beyond their years. Having already grasped the importance of true friendships and self-love, these girls are laughing, sharing their lunches, talking about silly adventures and most importantly do not give a flying heap about their status in the cafeteria. They are the true cool ones, and they have no idea.
Funny enough, the same divisions are noticeable amongst adult women. It seems as if the pettiness of high school can never really escape us. There’s the crunchy moms, the sporty moms, career moms, stay-at-home moms, single, married, rich and poor. The snarky comments and judging have different connotations than when we were fourteen, but the premise can still be the same. Sometimes it feels like we, as moms, are all in an artificial rat race striving to win the acceptance of the women who are admired, have “prestige” and always look perfect.
I believe (and hope) we are all trying to teach our children those superficial things do not matter. Authenticity and self-awareness build the foundations of happy and healthy adults. And yet here we are, still chasing the elusiveness of popularity as grown women, despite what we may relay to our kids.
Being in the “Cool Moms Club”, just like the “Cool Girls Club” of our middle school and high school days, really is not all it is cracked up to be. You know why? It is exhausting! We all have a LOT on our plates. Raising children is no easy task. Managing marriages, households, bills and schedules can be a tremendous burden. So why must we also pile on the added pressure of being accepted by those who appear (or want everyone to believe) they are perfect? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Let’s all strive to be that one niche of girls, sitting on the outskirts of the cafeteria, consumed only with the happiness each person brings to their life. Admiring the amount of money in someone’s checking account, the designer clothes, the cool car, the status in the community, it’s all an exaggerated version of lusting after the Doc Martens and Calvin Klein jeans you begged your mom for so that you too can be a part of the “in” crowd.
Instead, let’s appreciate another mom for the way she loves her children. Compliment her on how hard she works to make her family feel special. Be less impressed with her perfect body, and more so on how she makes you laugh until your cheeks hurt. Hold close the woman who shows up for you, on the good days and the bad. Whether she brings over a bottle of wine to toast in solidarity or a hot meal because you are overwhelmed with life, if she knocks on the door wanting nothing more than to help, she is the ultimate cool girl.
The friendships getting you through helping an ailing parent, an impending divorce or a difficult child — they are the ones that matter. The women who build you up are the important ones. They may not be decked out in head-to-toe Lululemon or have perfectly curled hair no matter the time of day, but they will high five you when they brush off the crusted Cheerios you didn’t know were hanging out in your two-day-old ponytail. They will throw you some goldfish when your toddler is having a hangry meltdown. They will gladly scoop the trash out of the front seat of your minivan so you can drive together and laugh on your way to a mom’s night out. They will praise you and call you out if you need it; listen and offer advice. These are the women you should make time for.
Last, but certainly not least, the true cool moms who love you for your authentic true self are the ones who you should always choose to sit next to in the cafeteria of parenthood.