AUTHOR AND MOMMY BLOGGER REBECCA ECKLER TELLS US HOW SHE AND OTHER MOMS KEEP THEIR COOL
I just did something I never imagined myself doing. I posted on my fridge a free, tacky calendar, courtesy of a local real estate agent. After forgetting my five-year-old daughter’s skate day, and forgetting to RSVP to a birthday party, I realize I need to start writing down my daughter’s activities where I can see them.
As far as remaining ‘cool’, I think I’ve done pretty well. I have refused to cut my long hair into a short ‘mother cut’ that’s easier and less time consuming. I visit the gym almost daily, not just to have a hot body – though that’s, hopefully, an added bonus. I go to feel energized and healthy. I still meet friends at bars, albeit earlier than pre-motherhood and not as often. My wardrobe remains the same as it did pre-motherhood. There are no mommy pants in my closet. My hours of work have changed, but I have not lost interest in my career. I travel often.
For many mothers, the thought of losing their cool – their identity, friends, looks, and ambition – is a concern. Meet three moms who’ve got it going on.
HANGING ON TO NUMBER ONE
“When I first became a mom, I tried desperately not to let myself go,” says Nadine Silverthorne, editor of the trendy website Sweetmama.ca, who admits she sometimes pushes the stroller in ‘ridiculously high-heels’. “I was terrified of the Soccer Mom archetype. I refused to buy a minivan, move to the suburbs and wear jeans that had waistbands above my navel. My greatest fear is waking up after they’ve left the nest and discovering I have no interests outside of my children, that I know who I am aside from being a mother.”
So, being the mother of two toddlers, how does she remain cool?
Silverthorne takes ‘mini breaks’ to New York or Paris once a year to recharge her batteries and makes sure her non-mother colleagues don’t out-style her (even if the reality is that she has diapers in her Marc Jacobs purse or snot on her DVF dress.)
“Sometimes putting your needs first isn’t going to affect little Billy’s chances of getting into university. Nor will it make him feel any less loved. Sure, my kids miss me when I’m gone, but they will grow up with a mom who squeezed the essence out of life,” says Silverthorne.
Being a cool mom doesn’t always seem like the most practical of parenting techniques. But I have always abided by, ‘if Mom is happy, everyone is happy’. My daughter, for example, was trained at an early age to sleep at her grandparents’ house. This not only offered me a night off (and out) but has also become a weekly routine, whereby my daughter loves sleeping over.
Silverthorne, too, had her kids trained to sleep over at Grandma’s at six months, so she could get out to see a band she adores.
Another key is having a relaxed attitude about parenting. Not only will you not lose your cool, you’re not losing your cool with your children. Meaning, pick your battles. The other night my daughter wanted to sleep in her bathing suit. My response was, “Whatever”. Was it really something to argue about? Being a cool mother requires a bit of empathy, seeing through your child’s eyes, while remaining true to yourself.
“It’s important not to get so caught up in being a parent that you lose your sense of self,” says Jennifer Patterson, a busy writer and editor. “I try to have a life outside being ‘Sofia’s mom’. It makes me a better parent. There are certain things I refuse to change just because I’m the mother of an eight-year-old. I live in a central Vancouver neighbourhood, within walking distance of shops and a short bike ride from downtown. I refuse to live in a cul-de-sac in the suburbs and shop at Costco.”
I don’t think it’s so much where you live, but how you spend your free time. It’s a lot easier to remain cool if, instead of revolving your life around your children, you also introduce your children to your interests. I love yoga. I signed my daughter up for kid’s yoga and now we practise together. I get manicures and my daughter loves coming with me to get a rainbow-coloured manicure. I love to travel, and my daughter has become well-versed on airplane routines. (I woke up recently on a plane to see her tray table down. She was drinking a diet coke and eating pretzels. My daughter said, “The lady came by and I told her what I wanted.”)
“I still pursue things I would have pursued if I didn’t have a child, “ says Patterson. “I still surf, scuba dive, snowboard and travel to South America. I don’t believe that having children and living a full life are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, I think parents can make their children’s lives much more interesting and enriching by sharing adventures with them and instilling a sense of discovery and curiosity about the world.”
Patterson takes Brazilian dance classes. Her daughter takes Flamenco lessons.
FOUR KIDS PLUS A LIFE
It doesn’t seem to matter the number of kids you have either. Kathy Buckworth, the hilarious author of the Blackberry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood, says she has never allowed the fact that she has four children to stop her from pursuing projects and events important to her from a personal or professional perspective. In fact, “having four kids compels me to leave the house with more vigor,” she jokes.
She works out three to four times a week. “My youngest knew what the inside of the gym play centre looked like at three months. My oldest daughter just started working out with me, which I love because I feel I have been able to pass on the importance of physical fitness and taking time for one’s self, to her.” Buckworth recently signed up for an improv course at Second City, something she’s always wanted to do, even though it meant finding babysitters, rushing homework and missing hockey games.
“Proving to your children that you’re a person first and a mom second has always got to be a good thing,” says Buckworth. “Particularly when you need to borrow that awesome top your 17-year-old just brought home from the mall.
“Likewise, I’m watching eagerly as my daughter’s feet grow. Hopefully they’ll stop at an adult size six-and-a-half. (Fingers crossed!) I don’t ever plan on being un-cool.”
As for me, I’m looking for a nicer calendar for my fridge. Not that I’m thinking about it too much. The minute you start wondering if you’re still cool is probably the moment you’ve stopped being cool.
fully support the point she is making about moms needing to wrench some
time for themselves. She was probably already entrenched in the fast
lane before having a kid. But it’s wrong to slam the soccer moms for not
subscribing to her superficial interests.” JANE STRAKER GRAY, BURNABY, B.C.
key to the joy of parenting is enjoying the journey. I support women
who choose not to ‘lose themselves’ but, that said, I would hate to look
back with regret if I didn’t spend the time enjoying them while they’re
still young. It’s about balance, as most things in life are.” KRISTA FRASER
priorities are not clothes and travel. When I shop now, I look for cute
outfits for my baby! Rebecca sounds selfish and self-involved and
should not judge suburban living. That’s the real world most moms live
in.” VICKI, PARADISE, NFLD.
agree with Rebecca Eckler. I have three daughters, now 19, 22 and 27.
They were encouraged, from a young age, to make their own decisions. In
high school, they all appreciated that I let them learn from there on
out. We never looked at their report cards unless they wanted to show
them to us. Today, they are all productive, self-supporting young
women.” CINDY PROCTER, LUMBY, B.C.
say Rebecca Eckler has her priorities out of whack. It’s important for
mothers to look after themselves but that’s only a small part of the
day. Does Rebecca view children as just another accessory?” ORIETTA MARINELLI, RICHMOND HILL, ON.
takes care of Rebecca Eckler’s child while she travels? Works? Shops?
What will happen when her child wants to get into organized sports? Will
she drive her to the games? VOILÀ! A soccer mom is born!” ANGELA FESER, VANCOUVER, B.C.
mom wants to be cool. I get up at 5:30 to go to the gym. I also love
fashion. But my three daughters keep me busy with dance, soccer, piano,
band, drama and swimming. I spend tons of time with my daughters but a
week away with my husband is icing on the cake.” MELISSA MIX HART, KELOWNA, B.C.
clothes? Not for this mom. I’m a better mom when I take time for
myself, but I’m content with Walmart brands – and look forward to my
kids playing sports so I can happily call myself a soccer or hockey
mom.” AMANDA, SHERWOOD PARK, AB
do you still go to the gym when your child is sick? Was it stressful
when your baby spit up on your expensive clothes? The reality for most
moms is having to choose between a supply of diapers for the month or a
gym membership.” SABINE, CHILLIWACK, B.C.
I miss the get-up-and-go-out-the-door lifestyle. Then I hear my baby
laugh and I wouldn’t trade this craziness for the world. It’s such a
rollercoaster ride.” DAWN GILLIS
agree with Rebecca on many levels. I’m a single parent with a
four-year-old, running a small business, going to school and training
five days a week for cycling events. My daughter is learning that
success is in the trying and a ‘never-give-up’ attitude.” STANIA JURIGA