Mama Madison: To be or not to be...

Is an identity as the cool mom worth it?

I'm not really sure what it takes to be considered a "cool" mom. Not so much by other moms in a middle school clique or sorority kind of way, but cool in my kids' eyes -- especially my middle son's. I certainly wasn't winning any prizes when he was in pre-school. I never bought the fancy, themed cupcakes in for snack time, even on birthdays. I didn't even bring the fun flavored goldfish crackers. I once bought string cheese, though. Not for health reasons as you might expect, but because it was the only thing I could find in the refrigerator. And I'd inevitably forgotten until seven minutes before we had to leave the house that my son was "Child of the Week."

In some ways, peel-apart-low-moisture mozzarella is very festive -- like a dairy form of streamers. And fortunately none of the kids in the Wolf Room were particularly judgmental.

I didn't get a whole lot cooler during his elementary school years. I didn't bake like his friends' moms. Stale rice cakes with graying baby carrots were more my speed. And, while other parents may have been introducing their kids to alternative bands and the Top 40, I had little on my iPod recorded after 1988 . One could argue it was cool that I was able to teach my now 12-year-old son all the lyrics to the dance floor classic "I Will Survive.? But I am not sure he'd be the one arguing it.

Through his childhood I've driven either a non-descript grey minivan or black mom-style SUV----I couldn't even muster up the courage to go red in my maternal need to seat at least seven. And I can't even pull off hip footwear. According to my children, the hot pink Chuck Taylors I purchased a few years back in order to up my cool quotient are not my style. I'm not sure what, beyond clogs and snow boots, might be.

But last week my son made it perfectly clear what I could do to immediately be seen as the most cutting-edge mom in the entire world.

And it involved taking him to the midnight premier of The Hunger Games.

Hmm, I'd been down this road before. Back on January 3, 2007, I actually slept out in front of the West Towne Best Buy with my then nine-year-old eldest son. We were dead set on snagging a first-generation Nintendo Wii. I wanted, just for that moment, to be the type of mom who would sacrifice the warmth of my own bed, and potentially a few toes to frostbite, in order to make my son feel like a prince.

We landed the console -- third in line, baby. But my cool mom glory was short-lived. Within the days, any halo or aura of "with it" I may have sported was absorbed back into the universe. In the blink of an eye I returned to preparing loser snacks and listening to musical classics from the late '70s -- sometimes, embarrassingly, in front of his friends. Cool, I learned, is never eternal. It is fleeting, capricious, and never worth sacrificing a good night's sleep for.

So while I toyed for a moment with the idea of schlepping a carful of sixth-grade boys to opening night, I thought better of it.

Because although I like a good kids-killing-kids movie as much as the next mom, District 12 and Panem would still be there the next day, in daylight. And besides, I'm sure my son would have told me I looked ridiculous in the Katniss braid I was planning to wear.

So in the immortal words of Ms. Gloria Gaynor, "I will survive" once again not being the cool mom.

And he will survive not having one.

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