Years ago, long before Zoe Kravitz became an actress and indie rock empress, I read a profile on her dad that described one of his favorite parenting practices. He’d take pre-teen Zoe to an island, they’d live in a hut or trailer for a while, and she’d be barefoot, muddy, and unplugged from all technology.
How delightfully hippyish and enviable! I thought. That’s just the kind of thing I want for my own kids. An unplugged, organic-farming, muddy-play-on-tiny-islands kind of life! (And, of course, I was gonna be the literary equivalent of a rock star so I could afford such a life. Heh.)
Now that I’m actually a mom, I understand those wistful intentions for what they were: fantasies and daydreams. Not only am I in no position to whisk my toddler off to exclusive isles, I’m also busy enough that growing hydroponic veggies seems senseless when a Lunchable will suffice.
Sometimes, parenting is about bubble-bursting and scaling down your loftier plans for unconventional childrearing to accommodate hectic, workaday realities. Such has been the case with me, anyway — at least for now. I still believe the day will come when we’ll summer on houseboats where iPads will not be allowed.
My Lenny Kravitz-level parenting ideals were just one promise I made to myself about the kind of mom I wanted to be — and it was one of the first ones I broke. Here are a few other “cool mom” promises that were made to be broken:
1. I won’t bore my childless friends with a barrage of cutesy anecdotes about my kid.
You always think you’re gonna be above becoming That Mom, a wallet-size photo at the ready and a banal anecdote about how cutely your kid yawns ready to fire at every turn. But before long, you’re snapping photos of your firstborn every nanosecond and whenever someone so much as fixes her mouth to utter the word “baby,” you’ve got your cell out, ready to scroll through a slideshow of pics. Though I’ve broken this rule a few times as a first-time mom, I do try to wait until folks inquire after my kid before I hit them with a pic or funny story. Whether that bores them remains to be seen.
2. I’ll still be able to hang on Girls’ Night Out.
I’ve had exactly two nights out in the two years I’ve been a mom. And I was back home by midnight, like a teenager tryin’ to beat curfew.
3. I won’t lose my cool.
In both senses of the word, my cool is usually gone by noon. If I think I’m dressed so fly you can’t tell me nothin’, I’ll happen to glance down and there’s an inexplicable baby stain somewhere. My cool is slowly blown as I try to blot that out with a baby wipe and wind up making it worse. Similarly, if I think I’m gonna be on my mellow, Zen Mama steeze all day, my child decides to throw multiple tantrums before nap time and I’m on my last nerve by 12 p.m.
4. All. Organic. Everything.
I used to fantasize about juicing and food-processing organic fruits and veggies for my little darling. Preservatives are the devil, right? But between in-home and out-of-home work, trying to find sleep, and trying to soothe and entertain, I started taking the easy way out pretty quickly. Gerber Graduates, anyone?
5. I’ll always let my little free spirit speak her mind and express herself as she sees fit, where she sees fit.
By now, you’re probably sensing a trend, right? I definitely still encourage my daughter’s independent spirit, but the expressing herself as she sees fit part is gon’ wind up causing us some problems. Kids aren’t exactly known for their impulse control, and sometimes their free-spirited self-expression results in one too many loud outbursts in formal, quiet places. Shushing does wonders. So does hustling your chatty little whirlwind right out of a space where her free-wheeling behavior is inappropriate.
What are some of your “When I’m a mom …” rules? If you’re already a mom, what “cool parent” rules did you make? Have you broken them yet?