In 1958, pregnancy and motherhood looked drastically different than modern maternal culture. Fifty years ago, moms withstood lots of social pressure to be all the things and do all the things for everyone in the family. They were expected to remain at home with the children, volunteering as a mom as their children grew into their Pre-K years. Single motherhood wasn't spoken of in polite company, even though it definitely happened. To their benefit, 1950's moms paid significantly less for childcare as friendly neighborhood babysitting was commonplace. Without paying their friends, a mom could drop off their children while they ran an errand. Conversely, beauty and physical image standards were much higher and uniform. Even more upsetting, household chores took up much of a woman's time.
What It's Like To Be A Modern Mother
Fifty years later, motherhood has evolved to meet the needs of the changing times. Still, most moms will admit they've felt the same pressure to be everything to everyone. Nearly every woman today will enter the formal workforce at some point in her life. Many mothers find the hard work of building a career while raising young children immensely rewarding! Others find school systems more rigid in terms of rules and rituals. Of course, moms have a lot of pressure not to be “that mom” who accidentally sends her kid to school with peanut butter or without jammies on their theme day, to take their turn being a class chaperone. While also juggling work. How do we do it? I don't know how, but it's magical.
Modern Parenting Happens Without A Support Network
Lots of women (and men!) are raising their children as single parents, with less of a support network. Families have become more geographically dispersed, so the informal childcare network doesn’t really exist. Childcare is prohibitively expensive - so much so that many modern moms stay home with their children because they can't afford childcare. Even if I could afford childcare, it's nearly impossible to find a daycare provider you can trust.
Modern Social Pressure Hurts New Moms
Yes, it's true; beauty and appearance standards have loosened. In some ways, mothers have more freedom to choose how they want to represent themselves. However, modern moms are now shamed for not "bouncing back" after having a baby. Why is that? I think it's because we theoretically should have more free hours per day than moms did in 1958. With the help of high-efficiency washing machines and dishwashers, household chores take up less time. Even modern preserved foods make errands less frequent and tasks less time-consuming - but that “free” time quickly gets other demands (work, school). Making a mistake in terms of safety or healthcare becomes a public conspiracy instead of a simple life lesson. When social media is involved, others witness every step - and misstep - as you figure out parenthood.
All Moms Struggle With Pressure And Stress
All in all, it only proves one thing for certain: motherhood has never been a walk in the park. Moms in 1958 lived with persistent pressure to meet the standards of the day. While parents judging other parents might be less severe in 2018, modern moms still live with intense social pressure. Across the generations, moms have more in common with our grandmothers or great-grandmothers than we have differences. Each generation is going to meet unique challenges, timely struggles to satisfy conflicting demands. Our job as sister-moms is to commiserate before we judge. And that goes for every mom, no matter how big her babies are today.
The 7 Ways Modern Motherhood Compares To 1950's Moms
- Beauty Standards
- Career Building
- Social Media Surveillance
- Modern Cleaning Machines
- Lack Of Support System
- Personal Agency As A Woman