The new generation mothers
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.
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.
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!