Dear Moms of the New Millennium,
Having given birth to my last child in 1991, and being blessed by eight grandchildren, I feel certain that I fall into the Old Mom category and there are a few things I would like to say to you.
First of all, I think you are amazing. The number of things you must juggle on a daily basis has increased tremendously since my day. Not only do you have more to do, you also have more people trying to tell you how to do it–PERFECTLY! Where I had to put all the kids in the car, go to the grocery store and spend my some of my grocery money to buy a Women’s Day magazine that would make me feel inadequate and sub-par, all you have to do is turn on your computer. The sheer number of blogs out there for young moms is staggering– and then there’s Pinterest. I would have crashed and burned for sure.
Example 1: Apparently, there is no such thing as baking your child a birthday cake from a mix and serving it with ice-cream and candles after a normal family dinner. From age one, you must have a theme with matching invitations, games, and favors, and you must either rent a bouncy castle or hire a band. I had five children. Not only would I not have been able to afford parties like this, I would have lost my mind in the process of preparing for them. I don’t even want to imagine what it must be like to also have to prepare your children to attend all of these functions. One of my children, who shall remain nameless, but whose first initial is “K,” always took about an hour to select a gift for a friend’s party. I groaned and planned an extra hour into the shopping schedule every time she received an invitation. (Which, by the way was most often oral and delivered by phone, not engraved and delivered by a clown.)
Example 2: You must cook gourmet food using only organic ingredients, or deal with the guilt of NOT doing so AND you must use cloth diapers and purchase clothes made of only natural fibers. In addition, you must recycle everything and clean your house with “green” products, or preferably, only water and a microfiber cloth. Of course microfiber is not natural so there’s a conflict…maybe it’s okay if the microfiber is made from recycled something-or-other. Eeeeekkkkkkkkkk! I am so sorry. I absolutely think we should be good stewards of the environment (I recycle) and I love my microfiber cloths (though I cannot convince my husband it is possible to clean with only water) but really, try to breathe.
Secondly, I apologize for all of the women from my generation who come up to you in the store–complete strangers!–and tell you, while your children are screaming, beating on one another and hiding under the clothing racks, to “enjoy every minute.” That is an indication of the guilt and regret we feel about our parenting experience. Either we didn’t have the number of children we wish we had, or we were too busy to notice that they were growing up and wish we had spent more time with them. Also–and this is a biggy–we only really remember the good stuff. This is important because it should be an encouragement to you. It’s not that we don’t remember the bad days at all, it’s just that we know now that they pass, and it’s the good days, or more often the golden moments, that we remember fondly.
So here is what I would say to you: Each day is a gift. Accept them as they come and only open one at time. I know, I know, that sounds very similar to the sentiment that annoys you, but hear me out. There are lovely, beautiful, amazing gifts and then there are practical gifts. All of them are gifts and we use each of them differently. Two Christmas presents that my husband gave me when our children were small stand out in my mind. One is my anniversary band with its five small diamonds that stand for our five children. It is simple and beautiful and I love it. The other is an aluminum pot that he bought me at Sam’s. It is just the right size, shape and weight and I have used it almost every day since he gave it to me. One gift is beautiful and one is practical–they are both part of the person I have become. When I am gone, one of my children will get my ring and another will take the pot. I wonder which one will mean more. I’m guessing that both of them will be considered special. Days are like that, too. Some are hard, and ugly and practical, and others are perfect and idyllic and beautiful–but they all go into making us the family that we are. In fact, we are a family partially because of the days we spend together. Some days you will enjoy; some days you will suffer through, but all of them are gifts from God. I’m praying for you amazing ladies. Keep on pressing on. Cut yourselves some slack. Perfection is over-rated. Being a mom is the best job of all.