Welcome to parenthood, you are no longer 'cool'

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Typically, when people contemplate having children, they focus on the wrong things.

They fret about whether they'll have enough money, how much time they should take off work and childcare.

I don't know anyone who worried about the real problem: That they will no longer be cool.

In fact, the very definition of parent is "Person who is not cool."

Sadly, you become so uncool that you don't even realise that "cool" is not a word anymore, unless you're talking about air-conditioning.

Here's what happens: before the birth, you keep doing maternity yoga and wearing your increasingly tight regular clothes. If you're the dad, your job is to grow a beard and tell your partner every day that she doesn't look fat. Then, someone gives you a hipster baby shower, and everyone floats away on martinis and mimosas, after giving you 138 adorable infant outfits with leather jackets that will only fit the baby for nine days. No one gives you a car seat or a Diaper Genie, because those are not hipster gifts, but luckily, your mom gives you a gift card to Babies R Us.

You drink your Virgin Mary and imagine the post-partum you as the same hip, swinging, fly, sick person with swagger, only now accompanied by a new accessory, similar to those dogs in little purses that people like Paris Hilton are always toting about.

Yes, you have to quit smoking, which isn't cool, because no one will let you touch the baby with nicotine on your hands.

But, at first, you generally can continue your life as a hipster, bringing along little Tahiti or Gunther in a Ralph Lauren baby tote, complete with matching cover up for breast feeding in public.


In fact, there's even a baby carrier called the Hipster Plus, that, for only $169.99, enables you to haul your kid in various positions on your body and pretend like he's the latest fashion accessory. 

Yes, you're exhausted every minute and, yes, you have to take frequent breaks when the baby cries or spits up, but you can still maintain the fiction that your life hasn't really changed.

But, it has. Your brief interlude of taking the infant everywhere is cruelly interrupted by toddler-hood, when the baby suddenly won't stay in the Ralph Lauren baby pack, but insists on running around during the restaurant's happy hour, and spilling people's martinis onto their laps.

Your living room with its soothing ocean-themed decor is now overtaken by a mountain of plastic stuff in bright primary colours.

Your white linen sofa will never look the same, now that the baby spit up on it after eating strained peas and beets.

You suddenly find yourself making dinner, instead of reservations, because you're too tired to go out, and it's too much hassle. And dinner consists, more often than you'd like to admit, of something out of a box, because you're too weary to hold a knife.

Long, hot showers become a long-ago dream. And you start worshipping your television, which provides you with a small break each day as your precious one consumes more TV time than is recommended, but you don't care.

I still remember driving through my current neighbuorhood on a long-ago house hunt, before I had kids. I thought to myself, "I'm just getting kids. I'm not having a lobotomy," as I looked at the ugly 1950s tract houses and tried to imagine who would ever want to live in one. Fast forward 10 years, and suddenly the good schools and nearby grocery stores seem like they were sent from heaven to help working mums survive.

Perhaps the largest and most visible change in your status is giving up your cool car and acquiring that device that screams, "I've just given up hope." I refer, of course, to the minivan.

Before I had kids, I drove a Nissan 300ZX sports car with a T-top roof. It was old, but beautiful. And fun to drive. I'd take the top off and drive up to the mountains, just for the joy of driving.

So, of course, it had to go. People who refuse to get minivans, like me, often fool themselves by getting big SUVs, thinking that no one will know they've lost their cool. But, of course, they do. Especially when the cargo holds are full of Girl Scout cookies, not kayaks and rock-climbing gear.

One of my best friends just bit the bullet, sold her cool-but-now-impractical pickup truck, and bought a light green minivan. She refused to get a luggage rack, though, insisting on a spoiler, instead, on the mistaken theory that this would make it look more cool.

Perhaps the longest-lasting effect of losing your cool is that parents can no longer stay up late at night, because they become too accustomed to rising early to get little Tatiana off to class.

Even after your kid is grown and gone, you're still stuck waking up early, and no longer feel like dancing in the clubs until the wee hours.

"Where are you?" my teenagers indignantly texted me one night. "It's late and you're not home."

It was midnight. I dared to stay out with my friends until the witching hour, and my teens were simply scandalised because it had never happened before.

Nowadays, I won't allow myself to put on my pyjamas until after 9 pm, just so I don't have to admit to myself that I've become my mother.

Now that my kids are young adults, I keep waiting to get hip and cool again, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I guess, once you've achieved parenthood, it no longer happens. And, somehow, that's OK.

Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @FrumpyMom.