The other day I came across this article which showed photos of how motherhood has stayed the same over the years. It’s pretty special to think that the overflowing love, the joy, the struggles, the tiredness and so on, is a constant for mothers – past, present and future. But there are a few things in parenting that have definitely changed:
We’re more likely to over-think it
My mum often says that my siblings and I have a tendency to over-think things – whether it be what we wear, how we date and analyse relationships, or how we work. I think this definitely applies to how we parent. Generations past seem to have been more ‘matter of fact’: they just got on with it. These days, with such a huge availability of information at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that we get confused as to whether we’re parenting correctly! Not only is there every medical diagnosis in the world to be found online when you type in a couple of symptoms, but there are also so many opinions about the best ways to do things. I suppose that while this might add some stress to an already-tough job, it also means that we do our research and perhaps employ better methods of doing things.
The need to present an image
With millions of social media accounts to view, motherhood has become more of a show-and-tell. I think the culture makes us more competitive – about our baby’s good traits and our baby’s development. I also think it makes us more image-conscious: the more designer clothing the better for our baby; and the more stress-free and trendy we look as mums, also the better. On top of a demanding job, this is a hard act to keep up. Don’t get me wrong – I take pride in my appearance and think that it’s important to keep my nine-month old in clean and quality clothes. But then there are the days where I’m in the same clothes as the day before with no makeup and hair in a messy bun, and the baby smells like vomit – and I try not to take it too hard on myself anyway! We’re only human after all, and I hear that babies are renowned for being a little untidy.
Pressure to prefer work outside the home to work inside the home
Feminism, when in its original form of equality between the sexes, is a wonderful thing. For mothers, it means that they have the choice to be at home or pursue a career outside of the home. Unfortunately, some people think that feminism means that all women should want to work outside – and that staying at home is the inferior choice. How sad is that! I think this is why women will refer to themselves as “just a stay-at-home mum,” or assign so little importance to the work of raising kids and creating a beautiful home where family feels happy and friends feel welcome. If a woman chooses to stay at home with her kids, she should be just as proud of that decision and her contribution as if she contributed financially (also a wonderful thing!). A positive of social media is that there are a lot of stay-at-home mums who are presenting to the world the beauty of their role.
These are just a few things – can you think of any other ways in which motherhood has changed over the generations?