When my friend Connie was about eight-and-a-half months pregnant for the first time, a group of us decided to give her a luncheon and baby shower. In addition to a gift, each of us was to bring a note in a sealed envelope stating what, in our opinion, it means to be a “cool mom.” These would be presented to the guest of honor, who would read them aloud.
Since my own mom was not exactly a role model of coolness, I began searching around among my friends for someone who would qualify. All were interesting people who accomplished cool things—artists, athletes, writers, teachers. Most of them had children. But none, by my own indefinite definition, was particularly cool in the mom department. Two days before the party it appeared I’d be the only guest without a “cool mom” letter to share.
Then it hit me, and this is what I wrote.
“Kelly is the coolest mom I’ve ever known. Having grown up in a noisy household, she decided, when she married, that she would make her own home a place of peace and calm. To this end, she taught her toddlers sign language, a skill she had acquired to broaden her effectiveness as a physical therapist. Throughout their childhood she used signing for games and stories as well as for disciplinary measures. At dinner with company, for example, her son and daughter would sign for permission to be excused rather than interrupt the adult conversation.
How cool is that?
Whenever it was necessary to reprimand her children, she did so in a normal tone of voice. If a second word of warning was necessary, instead of increasing her volume as most parents do, she lowered it a notch. When she began speaking in a whisper, her kids knew they were in serious trouble.
Now that’s cool.
Today her adult children are self-controlled, happy people who relate to her with adoration and respect. They know they can share any problem with her, confident that she will listen with an open mind and heart. And if they ask for her opinion, she will, instead, pose a thoughtful question that leads them to their own conclusion. I’ve heard her do it time after time, and it makes me wish I had been cool like that.
When Kelly’s first grandchild arrives next month, I expect he’ll be raised in a similar atmosphere since his father grew up in a place of serenity and peace. It’s a “cool” lesson to pass down through the generations.
I’m very proud of my daughter, Kelly, who is the coolest mom I’ve ever known.
Not to mention a helluva good photographer.