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Make mothers cool again

Mothers are seen as the ultimate enforcers of rules and that frustrates me as a former Party Girl

Too often the identity of motherhood erases all other identities that existed before and continue to exist alongside motherhood
Too often the identity of motherhood erases all other identities that existed before and continue to exist alongside motherhood

Motherhood is perceived as so deeply uncool.

Not fatherhood of course. Never men. Fathers are interesting, fathers are fun, fathers aren’t forced to be seen as only fathers. When my toddlers barge in to shout in the background of my husband’s work Zoom calls, everyone smiles indulgently. Remember that man being interviewed on the BBC with the two cute children and panicky wife? He became an overnight celebrity while the world debated whether the frazzled woman was his wife or the nanny.

But this isn’t about the men, the fathers. Women get the short end of the stick, we all know that, there’s nothing new left to say about that. This is about why motherhood is depicted as so uncool. Mothers are seen as the ultimate enforcers of rules, the ruiners of the party and, as a former Party Girl, that frustrates me even though I have to admit I am strict about bedtimes. But, I want to shout from the rooftops, I can be strict about bedtimes while still appreciating a good party myself. I especially want to shout it in the face of the man who offered my husband a gin and tonic and me a Tang at a party pre-pandemic. No, sir, please keep your orange sugar water to yourself and make my gin a double.

Too often the identity of motherhood erases all other identities that existed before and continue to exist alongside motherhood.

Are we mothers part of the problem? Maybe. I know that when I meet other new mothers, the conversation too often revolves around the domestic, the sleep routines and meals and all the other boring stuff. I don’t even know the names of most of the other mothers I see at school drop-off, identifying them only by their children. We are erasing each other while complaining about the erasure.

I am grateful to the growing group of Hot Moms and that M.I.L.F. $ song by Fergie, featuring some of the hottest mothers out there, but those are exceptions to the rule and I resent the fact that the default idea of motherhood is still dowdy, uninteresting and dull.

If anything, being mothers while also being everything else makes us a thousand times more interesting than the rest but saying that sounds so whiny.

Since I am whining, let me also whine about the clothes. Before I had children, I could wear whatever I wanted and not worry about whether or not it made me look too much like a mother. Now I am really aware of my Mom Clothes because whatever I wear, by the very fact that I am a mother, becomes a symbol of maternity. Am I allowed to admit that I still want to be hot? Because I do—but to even want that is not allowed once you are a mother. And on some days, much like before I had children, I just want to wear an oversized ill-fitting dress but now, in that beloved dress, when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I gasp and think I may as well settle in to start rolling out my rotis and retire my laptop.

But then I realize it’s not just about mothers; non-mothers aren’t faring much better. “It’s not motherhood," my wise sister-in-law says. “It’s getting older that’s just so uncool."

She’s right. My friends, with child or without, are all out there shaving a part of their hair and dying a bright streak through it in a blind panic.

We want it all.

I want to have my children and make sure they get to bed on time but I also want to write books and have opinions and go to the gym and wear sexy clothes. So I am trying to do it my way.

In my own bid to fight this motherhood narrative, three months after I had my first child, I got my first tattoo. But, like everything, since I was a mother,it renders the tattoo itself uncool. The coolest of things can’t compete against the uncoolness of motherhood. So my tattoos may not save me from the fate of the Boring Mother but I know it will make tattoos too uncool for my children to ever want one themselves, so at least there’s that.

Diksha Basu is the author of The Windfall (Bloomsbury). Her new book, Destination Wedding (Bloomsbury), will be out in June.

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