‘You can’t sit with us’. If I have to read that slogan on another T-shirt or bit of merch, I’m going to make a point of sitting unbearably close to the wearer – perhaps even on them muttering, “you didn’t say I couldn’t sit on you babes”. That whole too cool for school thing is just a little bit, well, uncool, no?
I’ll reference a classic quote from my number three best film ever, Mean Girls: “I’m not a regular Mom, I’m a cool Mom.”
But like most of the quotes (“Ex-boyfriends are off-limits to friends. That’s just, like, the rules of feminism.”) what do the mean girls mean?
Brands seem to suddenly be all over this concept of ‘cool mums’ and in the last few months I’ve fielded comments from PRs through to major parenting organisations like Mamas and Papas saying: “motherhood suddenly seems cool” and “where have all these cool mums come from?”
From Jenny Scott, founder of Mothers Meetings, who rocks an Adidas three stripe and Cos silhouette like no other, while wapping a boob out to breastfeed and boldly showing her 10.6K Instagram followers the ‘mum chub’. To Clemmie Hooper, casually penning a tome and blog (Gas + Air) about life in the midwife lane, while delivering babies, pregnant with twins and rocking a fringe that trumps Zooey Deschanel’s.
One look at Zoe de Pass’ (Dress Like a Mum) Instagram and you’ll be filled with rainbow-hued joy for fuchsia jumpsuits and enthused lunges that offer welcome respite from those awkward blogger poses. It’s My Little Pony-meets-Topshop with a hint of Vogue and a self-deprecating twist.
Then there’s Cat Sims (Not So Smug Now) and Clemmie Telford (Mother Of All Lists), who tackle motherhood head on with all-out humour (filtering overflowing laundry baskets) and a bold lip, while Anna and Lydia, founders of Tiba + Marl (achingly cool unisex nappy bags) are all silk bomber jackets, bubblegum pink lips and leopard print head scarves a go-go.
Oh and the incredibly savvy Siobhan from The Double Mama is managing two kids while penning a dissertation on the psychological impact of adoption on fathers. That’s not to mention photographer Charlotte Gray (Emily Gray Photography) who perfectly captures this mashed up maternal scene.
But the one thing that unites these mothers, or more specifically women, is that they’re not cool at all. The definition of cool is as outdated as Now 23 (when Tetris was a club anthem). It simply jars:
The quality of being fashionably attractive or impressive or showing no friendliness towards a person or enthusiasm for an idea or project.
They’re brilliant, yes, intelligent, witty and trying to create a life for their families in the best way they know how – from mama-friendly gifts from Steph Douglas at Don’t Buy Her Flowers to talking openly about fannies on Clemmie’s Gas + Air blog.
They’re definitely the sort of people who would share a pack of Monster Munch if you were hanging; they wouldn’t be looking over your shoulder to see if there’s someone better to talk to and they’re not too cool for school – educating children is pretty cool and with that comes a school.
Motherhood isn’t divided into ‘cool kids’, ‘geeks’ and sporty ones (other than Adrienne from That’s My Mum – who is outta this world). Sure there’s the occasional cheeky fag behind a dumpster, but it’s an all-inclusive, everyone’s invited party. A shindig that welcomes cupcake makers, disco pant wearers, potty-mouthed swearers and people with a penchant for monochrome Scandinavian T’s (Fiona, can’t get enough of Nor-Folk).
That’s not to say there’s an absence of bitchiness; I’ve never trusted anyone who can’t say an occasional bad word – even if it is just picking low hanging fruit like Jason Donovan’s plans for a comeback. Another gratuitious Mean Girls quote, just because:
“Somebody wrote in that book that I’m lying about being a virgin because I use super jumbo tampons, but I can’t help it if I’ve got a heavy flow and a wide set vagina.”
But this ‘new’ band of mothers isn’t a revelation; they’ve always been there, it’s just motherhood has perhaps become cooler, allowing everyone to parent as they wish with no judgement along the saggy-boobed, sleep-deprived way. Annabel Karmel’s pureed carrots? Kids mainlining Ella’s Kitchen? Breast feed? Bottle feed? Instagram feed?
Perhaps the one common denominator across motherhood is gin – Katie at Hurrah For Gin has nailed that arena. And sleep deprivation. We’re just a troupe of knackered boobs-like-a-spaniels-ears alcoholics trying to keep small humans alive.
So brands and media folk, there’s no cool mum, there’s no uncool mum, we’re all surviving some days, laughing together through the madness on others.
And yes, you can sit with us.
Written by: Anna Whitehouse.