Wednesday, May 7, 2014

WTF Wednesday: The "Cool" Mom

Tonight was The Girl's last orchestra concert for the year. She's in the Cadet Orchestra, which consists of all 6th graders, and there's a glee club and then the Concert Orchestra, which consists of 7th and 8th graders. We stay and watch all of the performances, even though the Cadet Orchestra plays first.

As I was sitting there, watching the cafeteria fill with parents, I noticed one of the 7th grade glee club members had changed her look from the last concert... in the form of having dyed her hair lavender.

My first reaction was, "What mother lets her 13 year old dye their hair purple?" (Please spare me the comments of how judgmental I was being- that thought would cross anyone's mind if they say a kid under high school age with permanently dyed crazy colored hair.) I watched the purple-haired minor walk across the room, curious to see if her mom was there.
Emma Stone looked
hella cool with lavender hair.

She was. And it caused an inward spiraling in me that I never saw coming...

The mom was around my age, covered in tattoos (complete with some small stars on her face), long bright green finger nails, tattoos on her fingers, and wearing a Star Wars hoodie.

Most people in society would glance at her, covered in her tattoos, see her daughter with the bright lavender hair, and crinkle their nose and huff in disgust, muttering, "That's what's wrong with the world today."

Me? I suddenly began to question my Cool Mom status.

I'm known as Tatted Mom. I pride myself on individuality, on my bright red hair, on my colorfully tattooed
skin, on standing out in the crowd. I'm a tattoo artist, painter, jewelry maker, tree-hugging witchy hippie type- all of these things, in my head, make me part of the Cool Mom group. I preach to my kids to walk to the beat of their own drums, encourage them to read, paint, sketch and draw, express themselves as individuals...

... but I continuously tell The Girl no when she asks to dye part of her hair blue.

Why? I began seriously questioning myself. How can I pride myself on being an outside-the-box mom, preach to everyone via my blog about being yourself, and encourage people to find their inner chaos and embrace it, when I'm stifling my child's individuality and self expression?

I was so far deep into my head that The Ginger had to snap his fingers in front of my face to get me back to the concert and that cafeteria. I didn't stay there long before I was swept back inside my own head.

I began to rationalize that my reasoning behind telling her no to her blue hair wasn't because I didn't approve of her form of self expression, but because she's only 12 years old. I wasn't allowed to dye my hair until I was 15, and even then it was that really cool color deposit shampoo that Aussie made, that left a little red on my hair with every shampoo (please tell me y'all remember that stuff??). I don't think I actually dyed my hair until I was 16 or 17, and even then it was just highlights.

Kids nowadays grow up entirely too fast as it is, so of course I'm opposed to anything that makes my 12 year old look like a 17 year old, like blue hair. This, at least, is what I told myself in my defense. I also had to remind myself that I had bought The Girl some blue hair chalk, so she could temporarily color sections of her hair before school, supporting her form of self expression, but not in a permanent manner, as it washed out every night when she showered. That was a great compromise... wasn't it?

But right then, sitting there in that cafeteria, watching the mom with the finger tattoos and artistically done makeup talking to her daughter with lavender hair, I confused myself as to where I stood on the subject anymore.

Could I still consider myself the Cool Mom if I didn't let my daughter express her individuality through a crazy hair color? Could I continue to preach to my readers and blog finders to embrace what makes them different and rock it, if I couldn't allow my daughter to do the same? And, could I hold on to my protective-mother-hen actions of denying my daughter dyed blue hair for at least 3 more years because of her young age, while still encouraging her to walk to the beat of her own drum?

Hours later, I'm at home, still debating the subject in my head. I'll talk to Hubby about it when he gets home, but he'll stick to the 'She's too young' thing. And that's honestly where my heart lies on the subject; keeping her a 12 year old and having her earn her colored hair stripes with time, just like I had to. I had to wait until 15 to dye my hair, 18 to get my first tattoo; rites of passage, those are, in my eyes.

And as far as having all of this cause me to question my Cool Mom status- definitely my biggest WTF moment of this past week. No mom should ever question themselves on how they parent based on what they see around them, if their kids are happy, healthy and safe. I'm disappointed in myself for thinking that one decision to not let my daughter dye her hair blue erases everything I try to instill in my kids every single day about individuality, self confidence, self expression and walking to the beats of their own drums. Blue hair doesn't change that. Shame on me for doubting myself as a mother.

I rock this parenting thing, dammit, tattoos, red hair and all.

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  1. I just want to hug you, way over here in California. I would totally drive to your house right now and sit on your sofa so we could rehash this whole subject. I'm a country girl, guns and camo and pink nail polish and my daughter is too. But yet I balk at her fashion choices and her individuality for what reason I yet do not know. She knows who she wants to be but I don't know how to help her get there. Oy. You have my support!!

  2. You said some very true things. I agree with you. Children should be allowed to express their personality. Keep up the good work!