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10 Conversations Your Mother Never Had

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How many conversations have I had about education? I have no idea. Hundreds maybe? I've got three kids and school talk is a favorite among parent friends: the merits of strict circle-time schedules versus developmental preschools, the public/private/charter debate, which high school magnet program everyone has an eye on, etc.

Parents of yore, such as my own mom and dad, however? Never once—never once!—did they gather the relevant education facts before sending my sister and me off to school. They just put us in jackets and pointed us in the direction of the neighborhood school.

I'm not arguing that the olden days of parenting were better by any means. These same parents got behind the wheel while tanked on Manhattans and chained-smoked in a sealed-up car. It's just, back then, conversations—if memory and impression serve—rarely centered on kid stuff.

Not talking about school is just the beginning. They also didn't talk about these other modern mom favorites:

Creative Ways to Announce, "We're Pregnant."

First, letting the non-pregnant partner consider himself/herself a part of the process is a legal conversation starter of only the last decade or so. Had my father even said, "We're expecting," the response would have been, "Expecting what?"

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Cloth vs. Disposable

Our kids' grandparents may have had a preference for cloth over "paper" (as I've noticed so many older women refer to disposable diapers), but they certainly didn't debate it, feel anguish over their choice or find themselves defending it. They picked what they liked and/or could afford.

Breast Is Best

More like Enfamil is best (in comparison to Similac—or maybe vice versa). Breast-feeding was the exception when I was born, and a kind of suspicious activity for those who chose it.

Too Young for TV

I grew up in the late 1970s and '80s, so my parents also didn't negotiate in whispers the amount of screen time I was allowed on weeknights (they barely whispered about homework) or at what age I would be allowed to watch it. Sure, programming was barely interesting enough to hold my attention in those early days. But I powered through. And watched a ton of TV as a young kid and teen without once being nagged by my parents to go read.

Spanx were called girdles, and you didn't go around talking about them.

Cry It Out

What's to discuss? Of course you let babies cry it out. Of course.

Does My Butt Look Big in These Yoga Pants?

First, no yoga pants. (And maybe no yoga? Certainly not in 1980s Topeka, Kansas, where Jazzercise reigned supreme.) Second, women and women's magazines were always going on about hips, not butts back then. So, at best, the question was, "Does this unitard make my hips look big?"

Prepping for the Preschool Entrance Test

Prepping? Preschool? Back then it was day care, and the only prepping necessary was a deposit check and a change of clothes.


Back then Spanx were called girdles, and you didn't go around talking about them. Also? No special patented technology was needed to keep them invisible—that was the job of a half-slip.

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Whether Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Has the Right to Tell Us to "Lean In"

It would have been a refreshing discussion back then, I'm sure, but no high-ranking female corporate leader was willing or able to do so. That said, this may be the one conversation I do know my full-time working mom, whose head suffered repeated bruising from her corporation's glass ceiling, had over and over and over again with her fellow (fella?) working women friends. Apparently, there are some mom conversations that transcend the decades. Too bad that's still one of them.

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