I was emailing with my grandmother recently and she told me she remembers going through some of the same things I write about in my blogs. She said one summer she was so overwhelmed with having three boys under age six that she sent the older two boys (my dad included) to a summer day camp. I guess this was a big deal back in the 1950’s. Now we don’t even bat an eye at sending our kids to summer camp; and in most households, some sort of daycare is needed during the summer because moms work. She also mentioned that when my grandfather bought her a dishwasher, it made her the envy of the neighborhood. The envy of the neighborhood? Because of a dishwasher? Wow, things have changed! It got me thinking about all the modern conveniences we have at our fingertips that my grandparents, and even my parents didn’t have while raising their families.
We have so many things, options, items, and choices. We have bottle warmers and strollers that collapse in an instant. We have access to doctors and medicine at all hours. We have baby and children’s stores and coupons galore. We have cell phones and iPads and TV screens in headrests. We have daycare and extracurricular activities in abundance. We have third row seats and minivans. We have about a million different apparatuses to put our kids in like jumperoos and exersaucers. We have breast pumps! And, what about how safety has changed? We have helmets and car seats and buckles and cribs that raise and lower. When my grandmother was raising her kids, they just piled into the car and kids didn’t wear bike helmets. We have so much and yet is life easier? Safer? Are we less stressed? My grandmother’s comments really got me thinking about this.
I tried to imagine what life would be like if my family was taken by a Delorean turned time-machine out of 2014 and transported into the 1950’s. Did I just reveal my age with the Back to the Future reference? Would life be better or worse without modern conveniences? I think having things like a Baby Bjorn and disposable diapers have definitely made life a bit more effortless, but I don’t think they make it any easier in terms of being a mom. Sure, in the short-term these things provide us with more freedom and convenience, but they don’t make everyday problems better. They don’t solve real issues; they simply make daily routines a little bit smoother. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and I went shopping with my mom at Babies”R”Us. The store was overwhelming for us, especially my mom. She was constantly saying, “I wish I had that back then” or “I invented that 30 years ago.” It just goes to show there has always been a need (and there will always be a need) for convenience. Anything that can make life a bit less challenging is a good thing, but at the same time it seems like we rely on these things, in part, to make our lives better. It’s funny how the more conveniences we have the more complicated life gets. We get wrapped up in these things and we get so frustrated when they don’t work or we can’t use them. We have to remember that all the things we have at our disposal were not always around and guess what? At one time, moms survived without them. I try to remember that when my cell phone dies in the middle of the day.
While I think that my grandmother had much more work to do as a mother than me because she didn’t have modern conveniences, I don’t think my life as a mom is necessarily easier. At the end of the day, the stresses I have about being a mother are probably the same as my grandmother’s were. Ultimately, we worry that we are good moms. We worry whether or not we show our kids enough love, enough discipline, enough devotion. It’s not about whether we have to wash dishes by hand or let a dishwasher do them (although I’ll take the dishwasher any day). It’s about the impact we’ve made on our kids. We aren’t perfect. There will always be good days. There will always be bad days. Whether we’ve lived with modern conveniences or not, we felt the same emotions and I think that will remain constant, dishwasher or not.