Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | April 27, 2010

being a mom in today’s day and age

I’ve been storing up some topics that have caught my fancy in the past few weeks. I don’t often have the mental energy to write in the evenings or the time during the day, but I still like the idea of having a blog and sharing some of the thoughts that go through my mind. So this morning, I’ve decided to sit in Panera for a little while with a nice dry bagel and cup of tea and get out some of the posts that have been sitting here. I’ll probably spread them out over a few days of actual posting, but I would like to get back to the notion of actually having a living blog.

So one of the articles that I came across, from a baby center email, has to do with the best and worst things of being a mom these days. I actually think about pieces they brought up a lot – the biggest being the idea that many women today believe that our moms and grandmothers had it easier. Sure we have technology and microwaves etc, but that doesn’t always make things easier. Actually, on a lot of levels, it makes things harder.

But there’s more to our affection for the past than simple nostalgia. Many moms said they long for a simpler era, one that came with clearer rules and expectations and shared values. As one mom put it, “Moms today have it harder than our moms or grandmothers because we have too many choices and worry too much about what others think about our style of parenting.”

This isn’t to say that our mom’s didn’t have a hard time too, but with every era there are always challenges. For me, I think that it is the loss of the close-knit communities and the general notion that you live near family. They weren’t joking when they said that it takes a village to raise a child, but in today’s day and age, everyone is so wide spread that the village often isn’t as close as you’d like it to be and all of our modern technologies bring a voice closer, but it isn’t the same. When I made the decision to move to NY years ago, the whole family thing wasn’t even on my horizon and my career was the only thing on my mind. Tons of people move away from their families and make it work, but part of that is making a conscious decision to settle down somewhere, something that we still haven’t done. I love where we are living now, but it isn’t somewhere that either of us plan to stay long-term. The simple fact is that in the long run, I need a slightly larger city to be happy. Honestly, I think both of us do. Bigger cities also afford you the ability to meet a wider variety of people which increases your chances of finding people with similar core values. Being in a community with a larger Jewish community is important, since for me, that was a core part of my social world when growing up. In so many ways, we have forgotten how to be a community and instead build our virtual communities. It isn’t even nearly the same.

But as I said, there are lots of parts of the puzzle, not just location. As this article mentions, moms today have a lot more choices and there is technology everywhere, but our choices aren’t necessarily easier or better ones. One great example of this is food. I think that actually our grandparents had a better time with this than even our parents, but the simple fact of the matter is that most people these days don’t cook and the food options out there to “make our lives easier” actually are killing us. America is facing an epidemic of obesity and struggling with diseases brought on by the way we eat. Yes, technically we are living longer than past generations did, but actually, the children of today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents and a big part of that has to do with how we feed them. If you take a look at Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, watch the movie Food, Inc. or read any of Michael Pollan’s books you get a sense of how big agriculture is actually harming us. In general, we eat too much, but the bigger problem is that we are eating the wrong things. We don’t need to be eating meat based protein every day. Giving our kids foods with ingredient lists of chemicals isn’t the way to go. But as a mom, I find it hard to figure out what to cook on a regular basis because we have become a society of foodies as well. My husband grew up in a family that ate the same dishes every week – Monday was one thing, Tuesday another etc. That was a smart thing for a mom of three to do for budget and planning reasons. We ate a wider variety of food, but it was still pretty basic – there was a lot of simply baked chicken with garlic and seasoning salt on it. I have a hard time figuring out what to cook on a regular basis because I personally want to be challenged and to be trying new things. So simply put, I make it harder on myself. But also, as a nation of foodies, we want a wider variety and have cooking shows and cooking magazines and glossy cookbooks….information overload. I try very hard to find a happy medium of food that is interesting, healthy, and that everyone will eat.

Finally, technology in general is a great thing, but our kids don’t need it and many adults today, myself included, don’t know how to turn it off and walk away. Our children are addicted to technology at an even earlier age then we were. I know that I beat myself up over it, but I also don’t know how to do it much differently. Part of the whole change in generations is a change in how some women look at their lives and while I love being a mommy, I’m not a natural teacher/arts and crafts fanatic. My brain is very literal, I like logic puzzles and books. I’ve never been an overly creative person and don’t have a natural inclination for finding ways for my child to develop imaginative play. After lots of play time together, when I need down time from being an active parent, the munchkin often gets to watch an episode of TV because she doesn’t love to play by herself. In long car rides or airplane trips, we let her watch things on my iphone. She used to be better at just reading in the car and I think that getting the iphone, and letting her touch it, might actually have been a mistake, but one that I can’t easily take back. But on the flip side, she does have some educational games on there that do challenge her. It’s a toss-up for us as I think it is for a lot of women.

Being a mom is a tough job. Dads today tend to do more than father’s from earlier generations, but there are also so many outside distractions and choices that make this job even tougher. We do the best we can and hope for the best.

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Responses

  1. The grass is always greener….As a graduate of the school of motherhood, I continue to observe the social aspects of the hardest job in the world, and many things are better now. You don’t realize it, but we were much more isolated, ignorant, and lonely in our mothering. We didn’t have the books you now have reassuring us that everyone has negative feelings sometimes. We did not dare speak to one another about our problems and issues, except in a joking way (ie, Erma Bombeck). I nearly went insane as a young mother, and some of us did go over the edge. There are many other issues; some things are better, some worse, some the same–but this one is the biggest, in my opinion.


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