Oh how things have changed.

Because of the businesses that I own, I find myself surrounded by Moms that are almost half my age. They’ve got babies and toddlers and I’ve got a girl that’s about to get her driver’s license. They “practice” things that I’ve never even heard of until speaking with them. They go to support groups and play places, they tweet and facebook and virtually support each other. Their Mom journey’s are totally different from mine. Totally.

This was all reinforced a few weeks ago when a huge debate broke out on a friends Facebook page. It was fueled by the ever volatile subject of breastfeeding and it’s ability to rile up the emotions of Mama’s everywhere. I’m not even going to touch on that subject but on something else that I noticed in the conversation. There was lots of talk about trusting your doctor as opposed to someone specifically trained in a field. There was mention of seeking out help online or doing more personal research.  It quickly became apparent to me that many of the argumentative points were based on differences in where “we” come from. It was definitely an Old Mom vs New Mom situation, with neither person really being wrong, just coming from completely different places.

It started me thinking about how things have changed in the past 16 years, and I thought I would share some of these differences with you. As I write them all down, I really am amazed at how much has changed and can only imagine what our grandmothers are thinking when they watch us with our babies.

Everything you’re about to read is based on MY experiences, not my Mother’s. My youngest is just about to turn 12 … I have not been a Mom for all that long, but the differences are pretty surprising.

Google. Yep, we didn’t have it. We weren’t able to just jump on the internet, search out a topic and get some answers. We had to ask our parents and grandparents, friends and doctors.  Truth be told, we didn’t even have the internet at all. I distinctly remember moving into my new house with my 3 and a half year old daughter and being incredibly excited about getting dial-up internet installed. I used to love the little fuzzy beep and crackle sounds that it made as it connected. You wouldn’t stay online for very long because it took forever and a day for a page to even load, and if you wanted to also use the telephone, you couldn’t. It was more of a novelty for fun as opposed to the real help that it is today.

Specialists. You’d probably be surprised to know that lots of us didn’t even have OBGYN’s. When you got pregnant, you went to your normal doctor. When you went into labour, you went to the hospital. Depending on where you lived, you might have had to drive 3 hours to even see a doctor. Specialists definitely existed, but they were few and far between. We just couldn’t pick up the phone and call a clinic somewhere for help. Even if those clinics were actually out there, their phone numbers most certainly weren’t advertised.

Every Good Mom had these items in their diaper bags. These were our go-to products, and pretty much our only options.

 Yes, those are examples of the horrific diaper bags that we had to carry. We did not have Designer Options and if you managed to get a bag with a bottle pocket, you had scored something awesome.

Support Mommy Groups. Nope, didn’t have those either. They may have existed, but they most certainly weren’t talked about or recommended by anyone. I wouldn’t even have known where to begin looking for one. Now they’re everywhere and they’re awesome. Our play “places” were found in  McDonalds or Ikea. Moms weren’t encouraged to take their babies with them anywhere, and most certainly not to a coffeehouse.

Lactation Consultants. I got help in the hospital. It consisted of a nurse coming into my room, grabbing my boob and the back of my babies head and shoving them together. There latched, now go on home. There was LaLeche league but as far as I knew, they were all about 100 years old and they didn’t seem all that relevant to me. Yes, I was misinformed.

Co-Sleeping. Elimination Communication. Babywearing. Circumcision. Breastfeeding. All topics that were never really even talked about. If you had a boy, you got him circumsized. That was that. We all tried breastfeeding and if it was going well, you kept at it. If it wasn’t, you switched to formula. No big deal at all. Babywearing was a Snugli that you got at your baby shower but it was so obviously uncomfortable for your baby, that you didn’t wear it for more than 11 minutes. Co-Sleeping consisted of a bassinette within arms reach of your bed.  Elimination Communication. Say what??

You’ll notice that the baby swing has a hand-crank, perfect for startling your baby from a deep sleep. The chicken wire baby gate that was supposed to stop your babe from riding their walker down to the basement. Yet another fabulous invention.

The lovely bathtub ring that was actually triple the width of your slippery child, and not at all dangerous. Please notice that the Jolly Jumper required you to tie and snap your baby into it and then clamp them to a door frame for fun. Our car seats were basically plastic buckets with a strap to hold our babies in them.

Organic Food, Allergies & No-No’s. The only “organic” things we had, you bought at the farmers market or you had to search high and low to find. Peanut Butter sandwiches were all my kids had in their lunches until a few years ago. You fed your baby rice cereal within weeks of coming home from the hospital. Babies slept on their tummies and we all had bumper pads in our cribs. Gripe water & Tylenol were the first answer for most ailments, and slipping a little bit of brandy into a bottle wasn’t unheard of. It also was still okay to drink a glass of wine everyday while pregnant.

Surprisingly, we got through it all without really knowing much. We’ve raised amazing kids that somehow survived the now banned products that we strapped them into daily. They’re alive, well-developed and well-adjusted.  We trusted our gut feelings more than anything else. We were young moms doing the best that we knew how to do with very little outside information. Common Sense truly was our guide, and for that I’m grateful.

I challenge you all as Moms to really listen to the other Mom’s around you without judgement or disrespect. You may just hear something that will change your life. Or make you laugh. Or make you cry. Or make you feel not quite so alone.  Just listen and learn from each other. Us Oldies have a lot to teach and share. Be patient with us as we “catch-up” and remember that we have been exactly where you are, we just did things differently. We are Moms, not Opponents. Never forget that.

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13 thoughts on “Oh how things have changed.

  1. Kathleen George Smith March 25, 2012 at 7:35 am Reply

    Can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. As a mom with kids that span the ages of 4 to 23, I’ve experienced both sides of this.

    While pregnant with my eldest, I never saw an OBGYN – we were only referred to them if we had “risky pregnancies”. We had no lactation specialists, we never breastfed in public and we trusted the medical advice we received from our GP’s implicitly. We still hadn’t been told about the dangers of smoking while pregnant and my only “pregnancy book” was Dr. Spock’s “baby and child care” and contained advice like “if you’re having difficulty breastfeeding consider drinking a couple beer to relax.” We were taught by our mothers to let our babies “cry it out”, co-sleeping was entirely frowned upon and we spent our entire pregnancies in muumuu like frocks. We also had no “yummy mummy clubs” and our lives as attractive, sexual women were thought to be over once we gave birth. We didn’t have the option of midwives or home births, (at least not in the small town I lived in), we didn’t have the option of an epidural (finally had one with my last child and ohdeargod, if I could kiss the feet of the great person who came up with THAT piece of medical genius!), and we had to specifically request to NOT have our boys circumcised, which usually resulted in a lecture from our GP’s. On top of that, fathers in the delivery room was still a fairly “new” development and we were still required to specifically request that our partners be allowed to attend the birth of their child. Our spouses did not attend at our prenatal appointments, every.

    Parenting and how we manage pregnancy have changed drastically over the past twenty five decades – mostly for the better. Our access to education and information and a change in the rights of women have changed how we view motherhood, how we view parenting. The manner in which I’m now parenting my 4 year old daughter is vastly different from how I parented her 23 year old brother. Does that mean I was wrong or deficient in my parenting of him? No. It just means I know better so I do better.

    Finally, I must add this: following the Facebook debate you mentioned in your post, I had the opportunity to discuss the views that were presented during the debate with a much older relative who gave birth to three children in the mid to late 1960’s (the era I was born in). She cut me off mid way through my explaining of the issue and had this to say:

    “In my day, our doctors advised us NOT to breastfeed. Breastfeeding was something dirty, shoeless, drugged up hippies did in the yard of a commune. It was considered unsanitary. Third world women breastfed. Hippies breastfed. “Good women” didn’t. Thank the good lord that has changed.”

    Her experience says a lot about how parenting changes, how the medical field changes their opinion, how every generation adopts the manner in which they will parent from the information made available to them. In recognizing this we recognize each other and build a community of sisterhood. And what could be better than that?

    Thank you for sharing this balanced and at times quite humorous point of views. I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

    • this mom's got something to say ... March 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm Reply

      The first time I went to meet someone at Cafe O’ Play, my Husband asked what that was. When I told him that it’s a coffee shop with a playground, his first response was “did we have that”?

      That led us to discussing more and more differences. I know that I wasn’t ever encouraged to breastfeed, but I know that I didn’t feel guilty about not doing it. My daughter was actually fed formula for the first day of her life while I recovered, without anyone even asking my permission. We didn’t really have playgroups, and our kids weren’t all in swimming lessons from birth. There was no Gymboree, no toddler time and certainly no “Mom” get-togethers. We were also not “allowed” to get massages, see a Chiropractor, get our hair coloured and/or paint our nails while pregnant.

  2. magzd March 25, 2012 at 8:13 am Reply

    I have six shades of love for this! I add things to my new-mom repertoire as I learn, and am so grateful for baby (toddler/preschooler!) wearing and bed sharing…but most of my new-age tricks were only discovered well past babyhood. I watched my mom raise my sister, and that was my guidance. And you know what? I think I’m doing pretty darn good using that dash of old mixed into the new 🙂 It keeps me grounded.

  3. Jennifer Banks March 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Love this post April!

    Even in the 3.5 years between Little T and Tiny A, things have changed. I could only imagine what changes between now and 10 years down the road.

    My mom comes over, looks at all of the gear and gadgets I have for Tiny A and tells me about what she had in the 70’s. Makes me wonder how we all survived.

    Although times change, every mother has the same goal – raise our babies with love. Does it really matter if we parent differently? Nope!

    Thanks again for writing this. Brings perspective.

    • this mom's got something to say ... March 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm Reply

      My two are 3 years apart, and you’re right theres differences between them. Significant differences. The Interwebs came to life and brought us all more information and ideas and stuff than we ever even dreamed of. Is it all good? No, but at least we have access to some amazing things now. If we all just take the time to soak it all in and take what’s best for us personally, we’ll all have awesome kids.

  4. Wendy March 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm Reply

    I am one of the ‘Oldie’ moms too and I had all the above products, except the walker. 

    This situation reminds me of how OUR mothers’ generation was judged and it makes me laugh, but also a little sad that the cycle keeps repeating. They didn’t have the Internet to crucify each other, but it happened anyway, just more covertly. The moms of the 70s didn’t know better; they smoked, drank and drove around with us on their laps… With a smoke in their hand!  But somehow we survived. Parents just love their babies/kids more than anything and each generation does the best they can. I’m not going to waste my time judging and being mad at my mom for her decisions, let alone other moms of the world. I chose to be grateful for how my mom loved me and tried her best. I hope my kids do the same.

    Let’s celebrate the progress without looking down noses and judging. 

    The babies of today will grow up and one day have children. When they do, the raised eyebrow “you did what?” will likely rear it’s ugly head .. because times will have changed again and 2012 will be the new-archaic parenting that is under the microscope of criticism. 

    I’m with Kathleen on building a community of sisterhood. Damn that sounds much better than what we’re seeing online lately. How much more impactful would our generation be if we figured this out? Hopefully the next one does.

    I love your posts April. Thanks for speaking for so many others who are trying to parent the best we can, and understand that our time can be better spent offering compassion and understanding, instead of finger pointing and judgment.

    “We are Moms not opponents”, amen!

    • this mom's got something to say ... March 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm Reply

      I searched for pics of the actual things that I had. I had that same stupid swing and remember trying to crank it up without making any sound. It always ended with me startling my DD so badly that she jumped out of her skin. I was going to post a pic of my DH wearing her in the Snugli but he threatened my life. She still LOVES pickles which I’m sure is a direct result of the amount of gripe water I poured into her little body. Things are SO different. But I’m a good Mom, I know that.

    • this mom's got something to say ... March 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm Reply

      I can rememeber going on road trips with my Mom and my Aunts in my Dad’s big old pink Lincoln. The Mom’s all sat in the front seat singing along to the music, and all of us LITTLE ones were lined up in a row in the backseat. Not a seatbelt in sight, but 7 little bodies all cuddled up and happy. I’m fairly confident that it didn’t even cross their minds that we weren’t safe back there.

      Thanks for your kind words Friend. AMEN.

  5. Judy...your mom March 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm Reply

    You made me laugh. I remember when seatbelts first came out and I insisted that your dad put them in so I could buckle your babysat in and everyone laughed at me. Please.so. You loved gripe water. It was our friend.

  6. The J85 March 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm Reply

    You have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award!

    http://thej85.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/less-than-a-month-in-the-blogging-world/#more-143

  7. Hubby March 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm Reply

    Ah, I remember the days well. Who would have thought the items we used 10 – 15 years ago would be SO out-dated and not even museum worthy.

  8. Natural Urban Mama April 4, 2012 at 4:12 am Reply

    The more things change the more they stay the same. We are all mothers, doing what we can with the information we have. I have the great distinction of being an older mom, with young kids. I don’t know where that puts me exactly, but I remember all of the things you mentioned above and then some. I grew up in the country and my “booster” seat was a 12-pack of beer so I could see out the window of the pick-up and I have a strange liking for cherry whisky that probably goes back to the fact that it was what my soother was dipped in. I try my best not to judge what others do or did and although I am sometimes naive about what kind of questions I pose on my Facebook wall, I truly do learn from all the mothers that I surround myself with online and IRL!

    Thanks for this April, a wonderful post as usual!

    • this mom's got something to say ... April 4, 2012 at 5:56 am Reply

      Thanks Lady. I too am so thankful for the people that have walked into my life and love learning about ways that are different than mine. We really do have so much to teach each other.

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