I was born in 1976, the oldest child of two wonderful hippy parents. I went to Elementary School and Junior High in the eighties and High School in the early nineties. Each generation has its own brand of slang and own identity… and to be a child growing up in my era – the ultimate goal was to “Be Cool.” Being cool meant several things: It meant you were removed, detached, always sarcastic, not too emotional, always ready to go with the flow. To be cool was to be untouchable – above it all. If you saw the Breakfast Club – cool was Judd Nelson’s character John Bender.
I was, and probably still am, quite uncool. I was a cross between geeky Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy, to stick with the Breakfast Club analogy. Despite my best efforts, I was too emotional, too insecure, too concerned with what others thought of me, and too broke to wear the labels (but insecure enough to try to pull off the knockoffs). And, to add insult to injury, I had an actual head gear. I didn’t wear it in public, but yes – I was that girl.
I am now a 33 year old married mom of two – but somewhere inside of me the need to be cool still exists and rears its head at the strangest of times.
When my husband and I suddenly found out that I was pregnant after only 5 months of marriage – I was panicked (totally uncool). I worried about how I would PARENT an actual HUMAN CHILD. I felt unprepared and unqualified. During that first few weeks, we didn’t tell anyone, but we both carefully watched every person we were around to see how people we respected acted as parents.
I was around a mom a few days after I found out I was pregnant and someone complimented one of her children. She gave a sarcastic laughing answer about what a handful the child was. It was quick witted and brilliant. We all laughed and I immediately realized I was in the presence of a very cool mom. She was completely put together, and seemed unaffected by the enormity of the task she was accomplishing. She was PARENTING A HUMAN CHILD, but seemed to be doing it without terror or awe. Like I said – this mom was cool.
That same afternoon, I was around another mom. And truthfully, this mom has always been someone who intimidated me a bit. She is this beautiful athletic woman married to this beautiful athletic man – everyone I knew who knew these two wanted to be them. Someone complimented her child and I knew that I was about to see the ultimate cool mom moment. She picked up her son and beamed at him. She agreed with the person complimenting him and went on to absolutely gush about him for several minutes. There was baby talk and bragging and honestly – it wasn’t cool and detached at all. There was no sarcasm, no quick wit. It felt a little awkward because we were watching an intimate moment of a mother adoring her child – completely captivated by the wonder of it. Her child was beautiful, but I got the sense that her child could have looked like a squished 95 year-old man with awkward features and she would still have been captivated. She wasn’t cool at all. Wasn’t detached. She seemed very aware of the enormity of the situation and totally and completely in love with her child.
I went home and talked to Justin – I told him about the two women and told him that I had decided what kind of mom I wanted to be. I wanted to be, surprisingly, the uncool mom. That one encounter with the captivated mom had really affected me and changed my perception of parenting.
I decided that I didn’t want to be unaffected, sarcastic, cold, unemotional. I didn’t want to be above the wonder of being a mom. And truthfully – it is a struggle for me even today. The “cool” thing is so ingrained in me, and the fear of being “uncool” is so ever present, that I often catch myself downplaying a complement towards one of my children. Or I’ll catch myself being sarcastic about their behavior. I have to consciously stop myself and choose to be uncool in those moments. Confess the sin of coldness and ingratitude and try to do better the next time.
Because that is what I think, ultimately, that being “cool” is. Ingratitude. We have been granted a huge task. A massive blessing. A high calling. To take that for granted or minimize it is wrong. We should GUSH gratitude. This world tells us to be cool. To be above it. But the Bible in Matthew 5 tells us to be poor in spirit (humble) and to be meek. To be proud when we are persecuted because of righteousness. That when we do that, we receive the Kingdom of heaven. We will inherit the earth.
This world and the backwards mentality of it is so alluring and so subtle. We often buy into philosophies without even thinking of it. I know that, for me, sarcasm is one of those things I have just bought into. Yes, sarcasm can be funny and I enjoy being around sarcastic people. But sarcasm can also be weak and cutting and cruel. And the line between those two things is grey and small and blurry. And this detached “cool” thing is another one of those subtle things. It is so ingrained in me that gratitude and humility is “uncool” that, although I know that these are fruits of righteousness and that when I demonstrate these things, I am more like Christ, I still often choose to play to the lowest common denominator and try to act cool.
Especially in parenting, don’t you think that is terribly destructive? My children deserve to have at least one person who is absolutely captivated by them and not afraid to show it. One person who is completely goofy in love with them. Every child deserves that – how many problems in our world would be solved if people saw a demonstration of unconditional love from their parents? I think, every time I decide to be uncool for the sake of my kids, I put them and their value ahead of my own. In the world’s eyes – that is crazy. But if I am living with a Biblical worldview – I am never being more like Christ than when I am putting others and their good above my own.
So I am thankful today that this idea of parenting was presented to me by that mom before I even held either of my daughters. And I am determined to choose to be uncool when it comes to my children. And to count it all joy if that gets me mocked a little. Because my girls are incredible. Captivating. Beautiful. Talented. Gifts from God. And my life is brighter and better because the Lord saw fit to give them to me. And I love my Lord more because of my kids. Each day with them lets me know Him and love Him more – and that is an amazing thing. I am so very thankful for them and for the God who created me and created them – and I am thankful He saw fit to give them to me. He has been good to me and blessed me beyond measure. And I really pray that this “cool” thing would be broken in me. That the Lord would protect my girls from ever hearing me be sarcastic about them or cut them down. That my kids wouldn’t know me as the “cool” mom – but as the mom who loved them and demonstrated Christ to them. I am not there yet – but I want to be. So pray for me in that, if you would.