“I remember when my husband and I had our first discussions about having babies and raising children, the images I conjured up in my head consisted of things like, a baby silently curled up next to us on our bed, sleeping peacefully as he and I competed against each other in Words With Friends (it was 2008, okay?) or siblings independently playing outside in our backyard, while he and I sipped Arnold Palmers on the deck and casually thumbed through the newspaper that we would obviously be mature enough to have delivered by then.
What those images did not include was me at 5:14 a.m., looking very un-camera ready, shushing my children from my bedroom and shouting things like, ‘IN THIS FAMILY, CHILDREN DO NOT GET UP BEFORE 6!’ and shoving a small corner of my pillowcase in my ear.
But I think we can all agree that raising children isn’t exactly how we pictured it.
What I think we can also all agree on is that raising children today is infinitely harder than it was back when our grandparents had kids. Of course, there were challenges for the moms and dads of the 1950’s-60’s. I mean hello, Cuba. But through my rose colored glasses, it seems to me that parenting back then involved a simpler order of operations – a game of Checkers, if you will. Parents fed, loved and got their little ones across the board and in return, the children grew up to be nice, well-mannered human beings.
But now, raising children has transmogrified (for you Calvin and Hobbes buffs out there) into a chess match against the world-at-large, who suddenly seem to have a whole lot to say about the way we all rear our offspring. For example:
The Excuse Note
I would venture to guess that while planning a plucky little family beach vacation in 1963, my child’s school’s attendance secretary would be the last person on my mind. No, I like to think my thoughts would be on packing the perfect picnic basket (probably full of roast beef sandwiches and Coca Cola) and steering clear of old-timey lifeguards, armed with too much Brylcreem and not enough sunscreen.
These days, if my family and I want to scoot out of town to spend some quality time in the surf and sand, I have to pen a meticulously crafted excuse note and essentially beg the staff at the elementary school not to call DCS.
Dear School Staff,
Please excuse my son for the next two days. He will be spending some quality time with his family at the beach. I know, I KNOW, school rules and family drools, but just this one time couldn’t he stay home from school without a fever? I promise we will practice our multiplication tables in the sand.
A mom who already booked the condo
Thankfully I had lots of practice writing convincing excuse notes when I was penning my own in high school (sorry Mom), so we haven’t breached the truancy threshold just yet, but God forbid we decide to play hooky to visit Santa before our holiday break officially begins…
I will be the first to admit that I am not a person who thrives at something that ends in the word ‘group’, so please forgive me if you are a mother who enjoys large gatherings of women and children convening together in the same place each week. But back when I was a new mom, I thought joining a playgroup would be the answer to all my mommy-ing woes. Instant friends for my baby! Instant friends for me! Instant reason to take off my nighttime nursing bra and swap it out for a daytime nursing bra!
Unfortunately, the whole playgroup thing turned out to be a big, fat dud. The mamas of the toddlers wanted nothing to do with the mamas of the babies and the mamas of the babies didn’t show up regularly. Feeling like lackluster relationships were something I could probably handle on my own, without an appointed group meeting, I felt it hard to really dig in and invest time (and sometimes money?) into this bunch o’ gals.
My Grandma Mim told me that when her kids were little, if a girlfriend didn’t show up at your doorstep by 10 a.m., you piled all your kids in the car and headed to her house. There was no fundraising or planned events – you just showed up and be-ed friends. You have kids? I have kids. I’m coming over.
Sign me up for that.
The Organic Section
Back when our grandparents were raising kids, I’ve heard there was a ton of pressure on moms to have a Life Magazine cover-worthy dinner on the table every night. However, I’m almost 100% sure I watched the kids on Mad Men eat ham that originated in a can, so I’m thinking food source-related guilt maybe wasn’t a thing a few decades ago?
I buy organic groceries purely out of guilt. Guilt about my children’s health. Guilt over ruining the environment. Guilt over the cashier at Kroger giving me the side-eye for having small children and a bill that isn’t over $200 due to purchasing 10,000 Annie’s snack options.
Don’t get me wrong. I think pesticides are bad. But I also think that most of these organic things were grown about 4″from the non-organic things and are we really so sure that they are pesticide-free and therefore worth the extra $100 per week? Seems a little suspect…
And as much as I’d like to sustain my family from the 4×6 raised garden bed we have in our suburban backyard, I don’t think anyone in this household can survive on a diet of cherry tomatoes and wilted greens. So I buy the organic things (most of the time) and hold my head high – until two days later, when I go to pull the arugula out of the fridge and it’s totally brown and slimy.
You win again GMO’s.
By the laws of all good high school essays, which require a thesis statement and three supporting paragraphs, I believe this brings me to my conclusion. Raising children is never easy – whether you did it in 1860, 1960 or 2019. Every generation faces its own unique challenges in the crazy world of parenting.
But today, I haven’t been appropriately caffeinated just yet and as I mentioned before, my kids were up at 5:15, so just for now – 2019 takes the cake.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Bandas. Follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Kelly here:
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