Mama might have said there would be days like this, but, truth be told, parenting has never been harder.
Today’s parenthood is one filled with perceived danger. I can’t let my kids play outside alone, go online unsupervised, or eat processed foods.
Basically, we are expected to be with our kids constantly, forcing healthy food down their throats, and then posting our parenting victories online for all to see.
The other day I was telling my mom how I was planning on meeting my daughter on the sidewalk in front of her school when she is in the third grade next year. We have hatched this plan in order to give her a little more independence, as well as allow me to walk our dog to meet her after school.
“You are going to let her walk all the way through the schoolyard by herself?” my mom asked me incredulously.
“Mom, when I was in the second grade I was walking by myself to school.”
Parents back in the day had more freedom from their kids. You could send your kids to the park to play or ride their bike with their friends.
When my kids ride their bikes, I have to sit awkwardly on my front porch and pretend to watch them so I don’t get my kids taken away.
Back in the day, moms had more time to enjoy their kids, but also enjoy their lives. Most stay-at-home parents nowadays are either home temporarily while on maternity leave or stay-at-home moms who have a side hustle. They are running daycares, forcing multi-level marketing products on people, or ahem, writing blogs.
They are isolated.
When my mom stayed home with us as kids, she had a whole neighborhood to hang out with. She could drink coffee with the neighbors while we ran around “supervised.”
Weekends were spent with kids filed neatly into an unfinished basement and my parents got a chance to play cards and catch up with their friends. Today’s parents are forced to hire babysitters, instead of dragging their offspring out after hours. Bedtimes have to be stuck to and marriages are left to struggle along with nights spent on the couch half-watching Netflix and scrolling through social media.
Meals are taken to a whole new level of ridiculousness. Lunches are scrutinized by teachers for health and reusable containers each day despite being made by half-asleep parents each morning. Gone are the days where bologna on white passed for your midday meal; today’s parents would rather spend hours cutting up all the major food groups than be considered “less than.”
In contrast, dinner is almost an afterthought between a tiring commute and the ransom played by children’s extracurricular activities.
We rush from event to event, never able to truly enjoy them because we are so busy thinking about getting to the next one.
While kids may get the experience of learning the piano, they are doing it alongside exhausted parents and a fractured family unit. They are with us constantly, but we are exhausted by them. They are eating healthier than ever before, but not sharing time around the family dinner table.
We are busier, but not better. We spend more time, but less quality time.
So parents, drop that Bento box and pick up the processed cheese slices (chemical goodness your kid will actually eat). Stop being busy and start enjoying the ride.