Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I had what you could call a typical childhood. I had everything I really needed, with few extravagances. My parents weren’t concerned with buying my siblings and me the latest toys, electronics, or trendy clothing. They made sure we had enough to eat, a roof over our heads, and warm clothes. Anything on top of that was a bonus, and boy did that make us appreciate those little extras. I still remember getting all pumped up to go to Blockbuster and order pizza, a Friday night tradition.
Perhaps this upbringing has influenced me as a mom, because like my parents, I’m not overly fussed with buying my daughter the latest anything and I’m not easily pressured to do what all the other parents are doing. While I certainly don’t think my parents were perfect, I strangely seem to be following them in the way that they parented.
Today, I am a mom to a four-year-old daughter. In many ways I am a pretty normal, typical parent, but there are some things that I seem to do differently and get raised eyebrows from some of my peers:
1. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I like it.
Only now that my daughter has started kindergarten am I considering going back to work. I barely know anyone else my age who is a stay-at-home mom. My mom stayed home with me until I was in kindergarten, and even then she only worked part-time so that she could be home with me in the afternoons. I realize that I am fortunate to have the choice to be a stay-at-home mom. But I think I am definitely in the minority in that I actually want to be one. I’ve gotten a lot of surprised looks and funny comments from people when I tell them this. I’ll never forget that one guy who looked at me with a pitying face, head cocked to one side, and said, “How are your days?”
2. I still haven’t taken my daughter on an airplane.
All of my parent friends have taken their kids for trips on an airplane, most of them starting when they were babies. And not just to visit Grandma and Grandpa, but on some pretty extravagant vacations too. So far the only “vacation” we’ve had as a family is a week at the cottage which is a two-hour drive away. And I am totally fine with this. As a kid, most of our vacations included long drives, us three kids in the back and our parents yelling at us to stop hitting each other.
3. We only just had our first professional family photoshoot.
It seems like the trend nowadays is to have a maternity shoot, then a newborn shoot, followed by a family shoot every year or so. And then post every picture on Instagram and Facebook, of course. In my day, the only professional photoshoots we did were our yearly school photos, and maybe one or two embarrassingly corny ones at Sears.
4. I only put my kid in one extracurricular activity at a time.
I know a mom who has her four-year-old in soccer, swimming, and dance, and who has just started Suzuki method piano lessons. I’m sorry, that just sounds exhausting. For the kid and the parent. My daughter did gymnastics for a while, but we have moved on to swimming. I don’t want her after-school time and weekends to be eaten up by traveling back and forth to activities. I participated in a few extracurriculars as a child, but my parents were always checking in with me to make sure I enjoyed what I was doing and that I wasn’t overwhelmed.
5. My daughter still doesn’t have an iPad.
I realize that it is very common now for parents to throw one to their kids on plane rides, long car trips, and even in restaurants so the adults can have an uninterrupted conversation. When I was young, the only ways I could occupy myself on long car rides was to either stare out the window or fight with my little brother. I think there is something valuable in learning how to cope when you’re bored. It helped to develop my imagination, that’s for sure.
By no means am I a perfect parent, and I know I never will be. Why do I take an old-fashioned approach to parenting? Perhaps it comes from nostalgia, perhaps deep down I know that maybe my parents were on to something with the uncomplicated way they parented me. But maybe we could all benefit a bit from not trying to keep up with the Jones’s, and do things the way we want to. Hey, we’d save a lot on plane tickets, right?
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