The new generation mothers

By Carol / May 13, 2012 /

Dee and Hannah & Eliza

When I think ‘mom,’ my first thought is of my own mother. But today, I’m shining the light toward the newest generation of moms in our family – my nieces and my daughter-in-law. There have been a lifetime of changes in expectations and attitudes about mothering over three generations.

I many ways, my mom fit the June Cleaver model. She cooked the meals, kept the house, raised the kids. She deferred to Dad, playing the helpmeet in all ways. But unlike June Cleaver, Mom worked outside the home. She worked on our family farm, milking cows alongside Dad, working in the fields, and gardening. So we definitely had a model of hard-working wife and mother.

Cena, Andrew & Ashley

My sisters and I grew up in the 60s, seeing ‘Leave it to Beaver’ on TV but hearing, seeing, and thinking women’s lib. Stepping across that divide was a long stride. I was definitely pulled into the world and expectations of the Enjoli super woman, ‘who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let him forget he’s a man.’ The challenge, the requirement, the expectation to ‘do it all’ was monumental.

It’s been gratifying to see the next generation of women make career and family choices. My niece – Cena – followed her mother into nursing. Cena and her husband have two children. They arranged work schedules so one of them was always there for the kids. It was a long time before the kids encountered a babysitter.

Cena’s sister Clo is the CFO for the Colorado county she lives in with her husband and two daughters. She and her husband both work 8-5 jobs, so the kids learned daycare from the get go.

My daughter-in-law Dee was a tech wizard working for a university IT department until she and my son started their family. With the first child, they chose to have her stay home and raise the girls.

Clo with Abigail and Samantha

As I lay all this out, I realize many things about mothering are the same across all generations. The big difference is in society’s expectation of mothers, and society’s acceptance of those who mother. That’s evolving. No single approach is right for everyone. Each of these families made choices about how they’d raise their children that were right for them. The children benefit from having mothers who are happy in their choices.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms and all those who mother!

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  1. Chantel Rhondeau on May 13, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Nice to see the pictures, Carol. I definitely think society has changed, but mom’s everywhere are still just trying to do what is right for their families! Have a wonderful day!!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      I agree, Chantel. We each try to do the best we can given all the info we have at the moment. Given what we know – and expect – today, that we survived our childhoods back in the 50s and 60s. What, no seatbelts!!!

  2. Rachelle Ayala (@AyalaRachelle) on May 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Happy Mother’s Day. I think all mothers make choices daily for their families and children, whether it’s to take a day off work to chaperone a field trip, or quit a job, or work the night shift. Have a great day. Isn’t it wonderful to chronicle the challenges and triumphs women face in your stories?

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      The longer I lived with this post, the more I thought of ways motherhood is similar over the generations and came to realize it’s society-imposed expectations that create most of the differences. Another post!

  3. Joan P Lane on May 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day Carol. So sad I didn’t have the time to write a post for mine.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, Joan! Thanks for stopping by. I’ve had fun with this Mother’s Day series and expect to be doing it again next year. Maybe even this year for Father’s Day.

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