I dress up for my daughter. On days that I don’t see her, just showering and putting clothes on seems sufficient. Combing my hair – optional. Make-up – what? But on the days I see her, I shave, tweeze, apply makeup, coordinate clothes so that they not only match but look CUTE and make sure my nails are done. And, I curl my hair. And this just to pick her and her friend up from school and drop them off at dance.

When I was fifteen, the last person I wanted to be seen with was my mom. When I was eight, she was the most beautiful person in the entire world to me. I would sneak into her bedroom and look at all the wonderful things on her vanity and pretend to be her. I helped myself to the mysterious bottles inside the cabinet that smelled like her and brushed my hair out, looking at each angle and beyond in the infinity mirrors. By the time my image got so small that you couldn’t see it, my eyes would shift and I would work my way back to the stool I was sitting on. Yep, still not my mom.

Somewhere between then and age fifteen, my mom became one of my least favorite people. And she was SO dumb. She knew nothing about me and my life. She only wanted to hold me back and make me wear stupid clothes and go to stupid church activities with a whole room full of other people just like her that had no idea about real life. I didn’t want to go places with her. I only spoke to her when it was absolutely necessary. Basically, she had nothing to offer me. And, she wore polyester pants and floral print shirts. I mean, c’mon.

It took me until my late 20s to grow up and figure out how great my mom is. I look back on all those wasted years and feel a little gypped. She has so much wisdom to share and she’s quick witted and funny. We could have been hanging out all this time. Think of all the stuff I missed while being so dense. I mean, c’mon!

The fact that my daughter, who is fifteen, chooses to invite me into her world and routinely asks me to hang out with her, is amazing to me. I feel like I have been given this gift and I cherish it. And so, I dress for her. I want her to feel good about how I look when she takes me places. I would never want her to feel embarrassed and have that be the reason she doesn’t want me along.

I’m sure there are other reasons she might not want to include me, like when I start to sing to Bananarama while shopping in the RiteAid or try clothes on over my clothes so I don’t have to go to the dressing room on the other side of the store or when her friends want to invite boys over so they can make out on the couch and I just happen to speak to that girl’s mom totally, completely by chance that afternoon and mention that the boyfriend is coming over and she’s welcome to stop by at about 11pm and bring me that cd she borrowed. It’s a cruel summer, man. THAT kind of stuff – totally acceptable reasons for her not to want to invite me to hang.

Sometimes what I think looks good and what she thinks looks good are slightly different. I’ll come down the stairs and ask her what she thinks. Ever the diplomat, she’ll cock her head to the side, put on a little smile and say, ‘Pretty good! Ummm, do you have a shirt that is a little less old-woman looking and a little more, oh I don’t know, cute?’ And in that moment, I want to apologize to my mother for making fun of her floral-print shirts. But, I smile at my daughter and invite her to come and help me pick something else. After rejecting the midriff showing and too-tight selections, we inevitably come across something we can both agree on. It does not involve flowers.

But, no matter what clothes I wear or how cute I curl my hair and how much I beg it to stop doing that odd and distracting swoosh thing near my right ear, I am acutely aware that I am one very lucky mom to be invited into the inner sanctum of teenage girls. I get to hear about how they really feel about sex and drinking and drugs and cliques and school and life and politics. I am continually surprised at how much some of them seem to feel about things that I hadn’t even heard of at their age, much less have an opinion on.

I am by no means The Cool Mom. I will call your parents if you use my daughter for an excuse to have sex with your boyfriend at the park. And, I will tell you that even though you like to call me Mom, and give me a hug when you see me, you are totally missing out if you don’t hang out with your own mom, who loves you like nobody’s business and cares more about you than anyone else could in the entire world. And possibly, wears polyester pants, but, dude. C’mon!

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  1. I love this post… I love the relationship you have with your daughter… and I admire what you do for her.

  2. My kids are little, and I have no designs on being the cool mom, but I would love it so much if they would talk to me when they are teenagers. If you have any advice about how not to squash their desire to have me involved, feel free to share. What a beautiful post… especially the part about the mirror and the make-up.

  3. I love what you wrote. The other day I was saying, offhandedly, to another mom that I wish my son would stop talking (he’s 4 – I know you know what I mean!). She replied that someday I will wish that he keep talking and I knew what she meant. It sounds as though you have a pretty good relationship with your daughter and what’s more, truly appreciate it.

  4. 1. Cruel, Cruel Summer is SOOOOO Karate Kid
    2. At 15, I didn’t want to be in the same state as my mother. You’re very lucky.
    3. I’m glad you’re willing to blow the whistle if you see another kids “in trouble”.
    4. I feel really bad for all the times I criticized my mom’s preppy clothes.
    5. Your post was lovely.

  5. You ARE SO a cool Mom! You love your kids to bits, would do anything for them, and will do just about anything to make them feel great about themselves. That’s cool, with a kapital K. (Just like the really kool people spell it.) 🙂

    This post made me teary. You’re amazing. Thank you for this…it made me smile. That’s always a welcome thing.

  6. You know, when I read your blog the thing that stands out the most to me is your relationship with your daughter.

    I had a similar relationship to my mom where I could tell her anything, we would discuss things and had a very open dialogue. At the same time, she was very much my “Mom” and not my “Friend” and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I knew my boundaries, I knew that I could get yelled at or punished for doing something stupid, yet I felt comfortable enough to call her if I was at a party and there was way too much drinking/drug use/sex/animal sacrifice and I needed a ride home.

    And I just love that you appreciate it. Not only are you lucky, but your daughter is lucky too. Your approval means a lot to her just as her approval means a lot to you, and you guys seem to have a great give and take.

    So I guess all I’m trying to say is… uh… thumbs up on being a good mom!

  7. I am in love with the idea of having a baby, but do not under any circumstances want to parent a teenager. I remember all too well what it was like to BE a teenager and God help my parents. I don’t know how they did it.

    I know, when our little spawn turn 13 we’ll send ’em to you guys! Then you can just return them when they are ready to move out and get a job. Deal?

  8. Okay, seriously? Are you reading my mind? Eavesdropping on my conversations?

    I had this conversation with my own mom not too long ago, admitting to her how stupid I was during the teen years, and how much I cherish her. Isn’t it odd how we go through that phase in our lives, that phase where we think everyone around us falls into only two categories: “cool” and “Oh My Gawd, Get Away From Me”?

    I love that your daughter includes you, that she draws you in, that she wants to spend time with you. And I commend you for not being the cool mom who just lets her daughter party, without any accountability. You are blessing her, whether or not she realizes it!

  9. How cool! Love this post.

    I too, remember being totally pissed at my mom from age 12-20. Wasted time, now that I look back and she is now 76 with failing health.

    I sure hope that I can be like that for my sons and daughter when they are older. My oldest seems to really like my company so far…he wants to surf with me and hang out in the lineup, so maybe we are on to something. It would break my heart if I was ever an embarrassement, but I know in my heart it will probably happen with one of the 4. Daggers…..through….the….heart!

  10. I have to say, that I really hope that my relationship is as good as yours is with my daughter. Even though she is only 2, I think about it all the time. I want a better relationship with her than I have with my mom.

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