Dear Daughters and Stepdaughters,
Looking at life through the lens of daughter, mother, stepmother and grandmother, I have come to appreciate how much harder it is to be a mother today than it was for my mother in the 60’s or for me in the 90’s. Please don’t be fooled by all of the conveniences of modern motherhood – more mothering blogs, advice books, toys, electronic devices, quick foods, and gadgetry have not made your lives easier.
In fact, you are living in such a complex and fast paced world that it’s hard to keep up with the latest recall (Is your peanut butter OK? Has your baby car seat been condemned?). Add to that the fact that it is really challenging for you to live a life as comfortable as the one in which you were raised. And the fact that you worked very hard for your pre-children careers, which you are financially unable to abandon easily without great hardship( and which you continue to pay for.) This despite the fact that you are inundated with the idea and philosophies that you must breastfeed( else you are a bad mother) and spend the formative years exclusively with your children. Hard to understand how you can do all that and work. You definitely have a recipe for stress far greater than your grandmothers or I experienced.
I feel sad that many of your grandmothers’ generation, and many of my fellow baby boomers, are sometimes so harsh in their criticism of your generation of mothers. Your grandmother can honestly declare, “In my day, children weren’t spoiled by so many toys,” or “Children didn’t watch so much television,” or “We didn’t need DVDs, smart phones, or iPads to occupy our kids,” or “Children didn’t misbehave in restaurants.” Largely this is due to the fact that many of these things did not exist in her day(with the exception of restaurants and tv). My peers and I would have to admit that we picked up tons of toys every night and let you watch television so we could cook dinner. We definitely would have used the DVD’s and smart phones if we’d had them and I suspect so would they.
So, my daughters, I apologize for the disapproval you and your peers feel from women who raised their children in calmer and simpler times. Here’s what I want you to know:
You are all already vastly more prepared and educated than we were as mothers. I’ve watched each of you educate yourselves on prenatal care, postnatal care,breastfeeding, study child rearing techniques, agonize over food choices and childcare, weigh pros and cons of staying at home or keeping your careers. I’m pretty sure a lot of the people in my generation, and my mom’s parented on a wing and a prayer. I know I did.
You will make mistakes. It’s human nature and moms are not exempt from that. I’ve made many many. So have your grandmothers and every other mom out there. Moms are not perfect Learn from them and learn from their mistakes and move on.
Know that I see and appreciate what you are doing. You are all great moms already. I could not be prouder of each of you! Why? Because you love your children, and I see all of you cherishing those babies and keeping them safe and healthy. I see the countless hours you spend planning, playing, working to ensure that your children will be happy healthy members of this world, despite being tired, overworked, and stressed yourselves.
Jessica I watched you struggle with your illness and med schedule to make sure that your babies were healthy and safe. I’ve watched the countless hours you spend with our grandsons teaching, and playing despite having little sleep. You rock, and your patience as a Mom is amazing!
Ginger I saw your little feet swollen up like pumpkins because you worked right up until the end in order to provide for your son economically. I’ve seen how his face lights up for you when he hears your voice and what a happy little fella he is…letting the world know that he is safe and secure . You are a wonderful Mom!
Savanna I’ve watched you struggle with pain and illness in order to bring our granddaughter into the world safely ..any day now. The sheer amount of planning and thought put into how you want to raise your daughter has been awe inspiring. Truly I’m in awe of the Mom you’re becoming!
If you occasionally feel criticized for your parenting and hear the familiar, “In my day…” – please understand that people who say this have mostly rewritten the past to suit themselves. They’ve forgotten what it was really like. I know I have and they have to. Also know that their times were far less challenging than yours.
And please forgive me for teaching you that, you have to do it all by yourself and for yourself. I somehow took that on and most likely passed some of that to all of you in one way or another. Find a village to help you to raise your children wherever you can, and be part of someone else’s village too. Because it takes a village. You guys are my village and I’m proud to be a part of your village ever yday. My world is a better place because you are in it!
Love you all!