The world has changed so much and before our very eyes. As a mom, I want someone to assure me that everything is going to turn out perfectly fine, better than fine, terrific even. But motherhood is like walking with blinders on. There are no guarantees that your children will have what they need to be happy and productive adults, and there's no way of knowing what the world will be like when they grow up. How can we prepare them for who knows what?
2. Mothering is demanding and isolating in a way I never imagined possible.
Everything I do is filtered through thoughts of my child and how my feelings and choices might impact him. Sometimes I feel like the world has two people: my son and me.
3. It feels like moms had more control over their children generations ago.
I have to parent him in the way that works for him and not necessarily for me.
That might be because we were afraid to question adults in those times, which isn’t good. However I recall never talking back, ever! I ate what was offered or nothing at all. I did what I was told, without asking questions. OK, that’s a lie, but I did have boundaries that I haven’t discovered in my parenting just yet. I cannot control this other little person. My son has his own mind, which is different from mine. I could never swaddle him because he hated being in tight spaces. He has always been a picky eater, and I've never been able to get him to eat certain foods. I have to parent him in the way that works for him and not necessarily for me, which has required a lot of adjustments on my part.
4. Now that we know so much about parenting and have more choices, doing what our parents did really isn’t an option.
We are taking what works and leaving most of it behind. I wasn’t taught how to be a good parent, so I'm learning on the job. For the most part, modern parenting means undoing what was done to me, while simultaneously teaching myself how to parent my son. Parenting self-help books and mom groups are my constant companions.
5. Everything that matters is almost prohibitively expensive.
Healthy food costs more than junk. Keeping your kids in activities that build discipline and teamwork is costly. If your child has special needs, like mine, effective therapists are costly. And a good education is for the 1 percent; the days of sending your child to the local public school down the street are virtually over.
6. Every mother I know is overwhelmed and full of self-judgment because she’s not able to be a good mother and do all the other things she desires to do.
It's rare to speak with a mom who isn’t tired, overworked and confused about the meaning of her life. I can count on two fingers the moms I know who seem to be actually happy most of the time, and these moms have lots of support in the home from grandparents and community living arrangements. Every other mom I know is working hard to keep herself and her family afloat, even those who have lots of resources. No one has enough time for their children and themselves.
7. A parent's involvement is so different from when I was growing up.
Parenting today seems to require that I be involved in everything my child has going on.
While today we have greater knowledge about children’s development and we can act on that, we’ve also developed a crazy parenting paranoia, afraid to let our kids out of our sight. When I was a kid I took public transit alone. I went into my neighbor’s home and my parents didn't necessarily know where I was. I had a certain level of autonomy that gave me confidence in myself. Parenting today seems to require that I be involved in everything my child has going on. It's like I live inside of his brain and need to know what he's doing and desiring at all times, like some type of god.
8. The community we need to raise kids is not part of our modern lifestyle.
Everybody is working, including grandma. There was a time in this country when people retired. Nannies have become the norm for those who can afford them and those who can't rely on daycare. It's heartbreaking that so many kids are being raised by strangers because, for all of the talk about “family values,” our society doesn’t really value the family.
9. Having children late in life means you’re both more mature and perimenopausal.
No one tells you that having a toddler in your 40s means concurrent hot flashes and potty training. Damn!
10. When I was growing up, I may not have had an attentive parent, but I belonged to all the mothers in the neighborhood and the community.
Everyone was watching out for me, teaching me and caring for me. Today’s parents, for the most the part, are on their own. Other parents don’t feel responsible for the children who don’t belong to them, and they don’t take the time to teach, or even reprimand, someone else’s kid. Many modern moms are a village of one.