Being a 21st Century Mom and a traditional Mommy is attainable.
I was born in 1964. My mother was forty years old and had already raised or was still raising ten other children. Yes, I said TEN. Granted, I had six older sisters, most of whom were like spare mothers; be that a good thing or not it was cool to have so many sisters. We grew up in the inner city in Baltimore, MD. What is now dubbed “Federal Hill,” we simply called South Baltimore back in the day, with it’s neighborhoods inside of neighborhoods and I like to remember it as a modern day Mayberry. Everybody knew everybody and anyone’s mother had permission to set you straight if you were caught up to some mischief blocks from home.
My Mother was the traditional stay at home Mom for most of my childhood and mother she did. From sun up until sundown she mothered. Not only did she mother us, she mothered any child who walked through our front door. She fed you, advised you, sheltered you and reminded you of what a real mother is supposed to be, even when she was whooping your butt.
I call myself a 21st century Mom because I’ve worked full time; sometimes two jobs when necessary to provide for my children. When my kids were little, my Mom, combined with day care and private sitters provided care for my children so that I could draw a pay check and assist in keeping a roof over our heads. It isn’t that I resented not being able to be “My Mom” but I do feel like I missed out on a lot with my kids and wish I’d have been able while they were preschool age to be at home with them those first couple of years. When you consider having a child Miss 21st century woman, if you work, you better take into consideration that someone else is going to be doing almost as much of that child raising as you. Be prepared for that reality and choose wisely.
Do I feel guilty for not being as good a mother as my own? Sometimes. Sometimes I look at our children and think, “Hey, they turned out pretty good.” I believe having very good sitters and my mother to help played a very big part in that. I believe for the most part they are really good adults. Did I make mistakes? More than I can count but hey, I’m sure my mother thought she made plenty too and I’m not complaining but I still wish I could have been their only “mother” sometimes.
We as 21st century mothers have a lot on our shoulders and if you’re a single mom, I salute you. At least I had a husband to carry some of the weight. I believe the traditional roles as women as the chief cooks and bottle washers is far behind us. What I don’t see are the traditional values of mothering and the importance of being a mother as being a cherished occupation anymore. There is balance but that balance includes giving your children more attention and consideration than you’d give your boss or your best friend. Balance and being present with them is the most important thing you can do. I’ve made that mistake and they have called me out on it more than once. Keep in mind, no matter what you do, someday, they are going to blame you for something. Do your best anyway. Do it for you as much as you do it for them.
I asked myself tonight why I had children. Immortality? Love? Tradition? Trying to rewind my brain twenty five years was not not easy let me tell you. What I can tell you is I wanted to give to someone else; some little, helpless person, the same things that my Mother gave me. I wanted to love and nurture. I wanted to snuggle, rock, feed, obsess over and adore a little human being and do the best I could to live up to the ideal that I could handle it and be a success at creating a decent human being. After all, I had an amazing example to follow.
The truth is, I didn’t take into account that I was number eleven. I didn’t take into consideration that my mother had a dress rehearsal almost a dozen times over. I didn’t take into account that my mother grew up during the depression and she appreciated every little thing as if tomorrow it would be gone, including her children. Do I still consider myself a 21st century Mom? I definitely do but at the core, I still hold true to those traditional Mommy roles and values. I can never be my Mother. She like so many other Moms of her era were selfless and sacrificed anything and everything to keep her children healthy and happy. However, regardless of work, in that respect, I have tried my best but at times, I still feel I’ve been a little selfish. I know quite a few women whose needs have always outweighed their children’s and still do. I pity them not because they didn’t value the bond between a mother and child but because they don’t know what they’ve missed.
I’m proud to be a Mom and I’m proud of the woman I am today. All women should set the example for their children to be successful, independent beings who aren’t just Moms but also human beings on their own journey. However, I don’t believe our children should have to make sacrifices just to have us for mothers. I believe the traditional values of Motherhood stand true: the kids come first. Not getting the latest toys, the best clothes and every electronic gadget that comes out but face time, REAL face time. That’s all they want.
They want your hands to put the bandage on their knee and comb their hair, tie their shoes and put toothpaste on their toothbrush. They want you to be the one helping them with their homework, cheering for them in little league or dance recitals and tucking them in at night. That’s all they need and they should have it without having to ask for it. I think that’s the deal when you bring them into the world, isn’t it?
To all the 21st century Moms, Happy Mother’s Day and remember…times change. Mothering shouldn’t.