Things to Do - This is How They Suck the Cool Out of You

(We decided to skip the gondola and just take a picture with the gondolier).

A few weeks ago we checked out Olivia Goes to Venice from the library. As the kids and I read about Olivia's adventures with canals, gondolas, and pigeons P asked "mom, Olivia's being silly, right? Venice isn't real?" Before I could answer F replied "OF COURSE, it's fake, how could all those buildings be in that water? They'd float away." This is when I had my worst idea ever.

"Venice is real", I replied, "in fact, I've actually been there." F started laughing. P said "you're so funny mommy." "No really! I've been there! I have pictures!" So I dove through the unpacked boxes in the garage until I found the old photo album of my post-college ramble with friends through Europe. I flipped to Venice. I felt proud. I felt cool. I felt like talking about me. The old me. The fun me. The twenty-something-wrinkleless-size 4 me. You get the idea.

I opened the photo album. This is where it all went wrong. Almost immediately a chill went through the room. I kid you not.

F started with the questions, "Why are you dressed like that? I've never seen that dress. Why are you wearing it? You look weird." At this point I hadn't quite grasped that the boat was sinking. So I replied, "well, that was the style back then, I thought it was cute. It's not THAT different than my clothes today."

P responded "you're not wearing sweatpants in any of these pictures. WHERE are your sweatpants?"

Then F jumped in, "and who are these people? Why don't I KNOW THESE PEOPLE!!" So I explained, "well those were my roommates, you know Auntie Allison - we see her when we go to Denver. The other girl is my friend, Dana, I haven't seen her in years. She now has dreads and goes to burning man. She's fun."

"What? She burns men? and WHY DO YOU HAVE FRIENDS WE NEVER MET? and who are the other people in the pictures? I don't know them either."

I tried to explain, "well, when you backpack through Europe you meet a lot of random people - instant friends you travel with for a few days."

P again, "but Mom there are boys in these pictures. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? You didn't have a boyfriend did you?"

"Well, yes, I had a boyfriend, but he was back home. The people in the photos weren't boyfriends they were just random people."

F finally looks a little relieved, "oh, so daddy was back home. Why didn't he come with you?"

"Daddy wasn't my boyfriend back then. I was only 22. It would be years until I met daddy. I had another boyfriend, a long time ago." Treason.


"Um, well, it was a long long time ago. I didn't even know daddy existed. Then I met daddy and I fell in love with him. And we got married. But I had a life before daddy."

Finally, T breaks in. My youngest. My baby. Surely, he'll help me out. "Mama, where me in these pictures? Where me?"

And F practically screams, "YOU'RE NOT THERE!! MOMMY WENT TO EUROPE WITHOUT US!!" Then they all stared at me. Betrayed. Forcing me to admit what I've deep down always known - my children have no interest in my younger, cooler self. We may never flip through old photo albums as I tell stories of twenty-something me. My children do not want to hear how I skinnydipped in the ocean outside Barcelona, how I spent the night on the floor of a train station and verbally attacked the random guard who happened to wake me, how I slept on a beach in costa rica, how I . . . what's the point of going even going on.

Basically, they have no interest in learning about how much fun I used to be. Just like I have no desire - even at the age of 36 - to hear about my mom's life before me. Exceptions exist, of course, but for the most part kids - even adult kids - want to see their mom as just their mom - laundry folding, dinner making, craft project creating, list making, sweatpants wearing mom.

When my dad died I discovered my grandma's old scrapbook from the 1920s, from the time in her life when she worked as a teacher - so many photos of beautiful women dressed as flappers. Driving cars. Posing. My grandmother looked pretty and confident. She looked like someone who could take on the world.

Grandma died when I was in junior high, an old lady with grey puffy hair, full (as I now realize) of untold stories. Instead of stories I am left with unrecognizable names and aging photos. A glimmer of her life before my family unintentionally sucked out the cool.

So I've done the math. I turned 30 right after giving birth to F. Assuming that she too spends her young twenties "discovering" herself then maybe around 30 she'll have kids (a big maybe). And maybe around 22, after college, those kids will travel through Europe. And then at the age of 82 I can open my albums, I can tell them my stories. And finally - hearing aid, walking cane and all else excluded - I can be cool again. I just have to wait 53 years, not an easy task.



  1. Ha! LOVE this. The concept that we had lives before them is so hard for our kids to understand. Levi and I always joke that Owen thinks we were all born at the same time, just us as adults and him as a baby. (And Sasha magically came into the world on her own, I guess.) BTW, you look the same as you did at 22!

  2. I love this. I so so love this post, Darcy. There are so many stories that I didn't get to hear from my dad before he died last year. I so wish I had thought he was cool before me, before now. Love the photos. Hugs.


  3. OMG - I love this!!

    My friend from high school was just visiting and we were looking through photos and my daughter was so weirded out by my photos of all my punk/new wave hair. I realize that I'm "Just Mom" to her. I remember finding photos of my mom from her days of traveling to New Orleans and mod (straight out of Mad Men) parties in the 60's. I was so fascinated to see this glimpse of my mom.

  4. I literally laughed out loud while reading this post!

    I was always fascinated with pictures of my parents in their life before my brother and I were born. Maybe I'm not the norm, but I've always hoped that my boys will be just as fascinated with my life before them. I guess I find out in a few years when they're at an age where they could even ask about life before them.

  5. to try to stem this tide I have been forcefully showing my kids my pictures albums since birth... it works sort of... and sometimes Jonah even asks to see some of my adventures... great post!!!

  6. Thanks so much for all the compliments everyone!! Hopefully one day they'll change their minds and be interested in "cool" me. Hopefully.



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