21st Century Motherhood.

10:48 AM


It ain't like mama raised us.

   Sometimes it almost takes my breath away how radically different the world is that I am raising my children in, as opposed to the world in which I was raised.

   It's not as though the differences are that obvious.  I mean, we all still use dishwashers and vacuum cleaners instead of the intricate, smart-house, robot systems that everyone assumed would be in place by now, and no one on my block owns a hover car.  So in some ways, things have remained somewhat the same.

   In other ways, however, they are completely different.  Take social media, for example.  Or networking and communication in general.  Growing up, my mom wasn't much of a picture taker, and video was something special and unique.  It was brought out at birthday parties and Christmas and the occasional "Quick, grab the video camera, the girls are putting on a play again" instances.  Today, we video our babies blowing spit bubbles and dogs napping and the rain streaking down the window, just because we can.  And photos have taken on a life of their own.  It's not longer just about "capturing a memory" but "curating a feed".  We are each our own personal photographer, editor, publisher and producer.  And it's practically a full-time job.

   If people needed to reach you, they called your home phone, and hoped you were home.  That's about it.  There was no texting, tweeting, liking, sharing, snap chatting, email (ok so there was probably email but my mom still hardly ever even used it) or any of the MYRIAD of ways we use to reach someone today.  There were no collaborations or blogs or podcasts or periscope or a hundred other things I probably don't even know about yet.

   And while those differences may not seem like a big deal, it's amazing just how many other things they affect.  Success, for example, and our perception of it.

   For instance, while I was growing up, I wasn't really aware of what any of my friend's moms did.  Some of them may have had part-time jobs, maybe full-time, but probably not.  And if they did, I didn't notice.  There were no "status updates" or media blasts to let me know at every single given moment what someone was doing or accomplishing.  We were just all living our own lives the best we knew how.

   I remember my own mom staying QUITE busy, but it was a busy-ness that looked different from today's.  It was mostly work at home, bookwork for Dad's business, countless hours of volunteer work at our school, and church events.  Not a lot of glitz and glamor, but she helped more people and accomplished more things than almost anybody I knew.  And maybe that's because she actually DID accomplish more than anyone I knew or, (AND THIS IS KEY) maybe it was because as a child, my sphere of exposure was limited to those I actually knew and saw in real life, as opposed to today, where it has expanded to include everyone and anyone.

   And so it is that I find myself, raising two daughters and a son in a different era.  A time where on one hand, it may seem like every possible opportunity is available to them and they can do anything they could possibly ever want to and be anything they want to be, and it's all very exciting.  On the other hand, they can also see everyone doing all of those different things and being all of those different things, and feel like they are doing nothing worthwhile at all.

   Their exposure to the success/achievements/accomplishments of others is perhaps 1,000x the amount of exposure that mine was.  I want them to believe in the themselves and at the same time, I want to protect them from the feeling that they will never measure up or amount to anything.  I don't remember feeling the latter as a child.  I remember thinking about catching frogs and footraces on bridge railings and finding out just how fast exactly I could race my bike down the hill from Grandma's on a gravel road without wiping out.  Today, however, I am bombarded perhaps 10x every single day with the temptation to feel like a failure.  To feel like I will never succeed.  To feel like I will never amount to anything.

   Well, that is just the difference between the simplicity of childhood and the complexity of adulthood, you say.

   Perhaps you are right.  But I think I am also right, in believing that the environment in which I was allowed to grow up, blissfully unaware of the constant comparison of myself to everyone else around me, no longer exists.  And somehow today, I have to be conscientious of that potential pitfall as a parent, and find a way to strike a delicate balance of encouraging them to dream big and reach for the stars and all of that, all the while keeping them from getting sucked into the vortex of constant comparison and resulting inferiority.

If you have any tips, let me know!

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