A cousin of my mom's came for a visit today and to meet Danica. She brought her grandson who is Tyler's age and the three boys had a grand time playing outside. It was so nice.
Our conversation turned to child rearing. She was marveling at how moms today have it harder than she did when raising her four kids (primarily in the 1960s). It is an observation I've heard before from older moms. The big difference they see is that moms now don't have the neighborhood (or family) support that used to exist. Before it was, let all the kids go play in the street and the moms will visit, take care of babies, and work around the house. The neighborhood moms and kids collectively looked out for one another.
The other main difference parenting then and now is that now there is more focus on Parenting (capital P). It is a sport. A profession. Something many of us choose very consciously and often give up lucrative careers for. It is serious business. The stakes are high (our children!) and the bar is higher. Play dates. Crafts. Homemade baby food. Breastfeeding. Preschool. Organized sports. The list goes on. As my cousin noted, before the mom was always right no matter what she decided to do with and for her kids. Her choice to be a mom was basically an automatic assignment, not a career path. You just got by and used your common sense. She laughed when she told me about another group of young moms she had been with recently and how they had consulted a book about which blankie to provide their child. Sadly, I could relate to that. These days the instinct and common sense in parenting is almost 100% removed. We consult books. Scour magazines. Read parenting blogs. Scan Pinterest. It's a full time job being a parent to very small children that really only want love, food, play and an occasional bath. The irony is deep.
I have made these observations myself since becoming a mom 4 years ago but it was nice to have my theory validated by a mom of the 60s when children were kids. Not adults in training.
I wonder if we will get back to the simple days of neighborhood play, using our own ideas and common sense, life outside of being a Parent. It's so exhausting! And where does it get us and our children? The scrutiny and focus can't be good for anyone in the long term. Parenting isn't natural anymore. It's contrived.
I would love to send Tyler and Travis out to play with the neighbor kids while I watch from afar or maybe not at all. (gasp!) But if I did they'd be wandering our quiet and lonely neighborhood by themselves. The other kids are inside studying or practicing piano. Maybe watching an educational TV program like Super Why or participating in a craft project that engages both gross and fine motor skills.
Times have changed. And that is inevitable. But I do really question if the changes in Parenting have been for the better.
What do you see as a mom or parent? Do you have a lot of support? Do you feel the pressure and competition or is that an individual thing? How is your neighborhood?