Susie Lau on whether she should be a ‘cool mom’
I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.’ When Amy Poehler delivered that line with a wink and a hip-shake in 2004’s Mean Girls, as the Plastics head girl Regina George’s Juicy Couture hun of a mum, she unwittingly birthed a blueprint for prospective mothers the world over. Duh! Of course we didn’t want to be ‘regular’ mums with their Tupperware boxes of healthy-but-
delicious snacks, firm-but-fair mannerisms and basically any semblance of our mothers before us. ‘Cool mom’ is basically an expression of any inert desire to hold on to our pre-motherhood life. It’s combining a Baby Bjorn carrier with a Comme des Garçons holster. It’s insisting you can still take a screaming toddler to the Tate at the weekend, because they will absorb the curves of a Rodin and be somewhat inspired in their sketchbook scribbles. It’s sitting your five-year-old on a bar seat at Barrafina and expecting her to start enjoying olives, while picking up all the felt-tip pens that have rolled off the bar. It’s a pervasive rod you make for your well-outfitted back.
Recently, I gave myself a cool mom high five after my daughter’s fifth birthday, which was billed as a ‘princesses and pirates’ themed party with bunting but actually was a post-pandemic kidult rager. Parents got to enjoy Prosecco before noon, leaving their sprogs for an hour or two with an entertainer and a bubble machine, enjoying the luxury of staring blankly into space in a Starbucks and then returning to mop up the butter-cream laden cake that their kids couldn’t finish. I’m not going to pretend that any of it was my doing seeing as I cheated and held it in a family members’ club in Angel that is essentially Soho House mixed with soft play. A worthy investment for that cool mom hair whip.
But like Regina George rolling her eyes at her pink velour-clad mum and her tray of mocktails, I can already sense the directed disdain from the five-year-old, who is feeling the weight of her age by declaring she felt ‘old and boring’. Yes, it is fated. She is in fact turning into Saffy from Ab Fab as quite a few of my friends have pointed out, half as a joke, half as a gentle warning. After all, she’s already well versed with what ‘Bolli’ is, as fashion brands have spent the past two years sending round a constant stream of bubbly for our Zoom quiz parties (also, how GREAT is it that they’ve already become a buried-in-memory relic).
At school drop-off, where I will forever be five minutes late, accidental hodgepodge of shiny puffer jackets, weather-inappropriate dresses worn with mucky jeans and accessorised with last night’s eye make-up smudges, she is already giving me the once-over. ‘Where’s my snack?’ is code for ‘Why can’t you be normal?’ Obviously the snack was forgotten somewhere in-between looking for matching socks and contemplating using eye make-up remover.
And as time goes on, the inevitable shades of my own mother begin to rear their superstitious head. ‘Don’t just eat the leaves of the choy sum, have the stalks as well — do you want good eyes?’ ‘Why have you got socks in bed — you’ll get bad dreams.’ At the heart of it, I also can’t truly be chill like the hardcore cool mums out there. Because as comedian Ali Wong matter-of-factly states in her latest Netflix special Don Wong, ‘Chill don’t pay the bills.’ As I sat in the frow of a drama half-term camp, with my daughter dressed up as an owl and clapping comedically, she grimaced at my enthusiasm and I could feel myself morphing into ‘regular mum’. She was buried in me after all underneath the misguided layers.