Thursday, September 4, 2014

Modern Mama

My aunt sent me this post the other day. You might have seen it on Facebook recently. I know I did, though I didn't click over to read it because it was one of those times I was hastily scrolling through my feed (read: sitting at a red light).

Perhaps my musings as a crunchy-granola mama prompted her share, or maybe the photo from the early 80s that I posted on Facebook earlier that week, but probably just her own observations of how times have changed.

For kicks, though, here's the photo I posted on Facebook. It's me (squinting) and my next door neighbor, Jessica, on the first day of Kindergarten in 1981. (We have one from our senior year in 1993--frosted lipstick and all.)


I got over 80 likes on this photo which is some kind of Facebook record for me (not that I pay attention to things like that), and all thanks to tagging Jessica who clearly is more responsive to friend requests and suggestions than I am on Facebook. Among the comments, my mother said something about just picking up a lunchbox on sale for me. I didn't choose it; it was the cheapest one she could find.

And, it made me think through and compare (congratulatorily and cringily) my daughter's school preparation to that of the 70s and 80s.

For instance:

I carefully researched lunchbox and backpack options before ordering both online several years ago. Neither contains nasty materials or chemicals, and the lunchbox is nicely insulated to keep her food reasonably coolish by lunchtime, and yes, the backpack has her initials on it (I bought it on clearance, you see; I felt I could splurge on a monogram).

She's allowed to choose from among several organic lunch items I try to keep in stock, including cheese, yogurt, lunch meats, fruits, and veggies, though I portion out a healthy ratio of protein to fruits/veggies. I fill her metal (BPA-free!) thermos with filtered water and plenty of ice as I sip my coffee, freshly ground from organic, fair trade Colombian beans (dark roast, please) that I order especially from farmers who have turned from the cocaine trade to the coffee one.

I peek at my phone in the down moments between breakfast preparation, lunch packing, clothes dressing and hair brushing. I check news headlines and information on my friends' lives through Facebook and Bloglovin feeds. Blog posts pile up mighty quick, and what's Garrison Keillor's poem for the day?

Both my children wear highly supportive New Balance sneakers with special orthotics for their pronated ankles. Other than that, their clothes are hand-me-downs, thrift or consignment store finds. I believe in recycling, you see--none of that fast fashion waste (or, um, in actuality, we're poor after spending so much on organic food and fair trade coffee).

I wrote my daughter a back to school letter about strengths and weaknesses and about the importance being brave and asking for help as well as helping others (that she refused to let me read).

And on the first day of school, my daughter lined up at the bus stop with all the other neighborhood kids with her supersafe backpack filled with all those school supplies and requested germ-killing donations. I took dozens of photos and stood, swallowing my tears, with all the other overprivileged, like-minded parents waving and blowing kisses as the bus drove off.

Oh, and did I mention that once a week my daughter sees a therapist for her anxiety? Don't worry, I'm not a hypochondriac; it was doctor recommended!

Roll you eyes, if you will. Or, perhaps, you're thinking, "That sounds remarkably like our house." I admit I have an avid, if not consistent, interest in ecological matters, I'm often stricken with anxiety and fears, and I am clearly swayed by the trends of our time (though I don't do anything I don't believe in).

At the end of every summer, I feel like a modern mama. I'm proud of some of my decisions, and some I wonder about. Which is probably how all those 70s mamas felt, too.

 Hosts Kristi, Stephanie, and Kerri.

30 comments :

  1. All I can do while reading this is compare the picture of you and your daughter and say holy mackerel, you two look alike!

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    1. I see that now! But you know, she really, REALLY looks like Brian. But I see it in this photo!

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  2. Awww! So love this and I have to wonder if that's how some of the 70's mamas felt too. Although, growing up in the 70's, I'm pretty sure we were left in playpens outdoors alone, that plastic was a godsend but also that we were without ipads and television on all of the days of the week. And we were fine. Different world though and OMG I love love the photo of little girl you and agree with Dyanne that you look so much alike!!

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    1. I love that we look alike in those photos because she actually is the image of her daddy. What I meant was that mamas through time probably second-guessed themselves. It may have been on different issues, but has there ever been a 100% confident mama?

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  3. Yeah, I get it. The organic food does make one kind of broke, now doesn't it? But in our ADD/ADHD world where at least two people (read: not me, them) are affected severely by food dyes and other crap in processed food, the whole and organic foods route is simply the only choice. I never thought I'd care about things like water bottles but yup, ours are stainless steel - no leeching plastic and BPA here! I could go on. See this is why we get on so...so much in common.
    Love the Kindergarten you and Miss Maggie Big Girl looks amazing on her way to school!
    I thought I'd be all cool about first grade, considering this isn't the first time Kidzilla's off to school...but with that big girl uniform on, Miss First Grader looks way too grown up for this Mamma. And MY Mamma was here this evening and asked if her conversation and personality had suddenly jumped to way more mature in the last week or so. Yup. Sure did. I could just scream. But instead, I slip into her room at night and watch her sleep because then...she still looks like my baby and not such a big kid. Sigh.
    Happy school year to all of you. XOO

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    1. Oh, I do that too. I always sneak in for a few more kisses. Can't help myself.
      I never really thought about the food dyes, and I can't say I've ever paid much attention to whether that has an effect. I'm starting to wonder about gluten, though. You?

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  4. I sometimes feel wildly subversive for letting my kids do stuff that would have been completely normal when I was a kid. They're always so stunned when I do too--"You're going to let us eat THAT?!?" "You're going to let us ride our bikes to the store and buy GROCERIES?"
    Some things I know I overthink compared to my parents. Other things I am actually lazier about. We eat fast food two or three times a month. In my childhood, we only stopped at one specific Dairy Queen when we drove to the beach. Otherwise, we ate home cooked food three times a day. I let my kids buy lunch.
    We all just do the best we can, given what information we have and what resources are available to us, right?

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    1. Oh, yes, I have my subversive moments, and we do have fast food every once in awhile. I like to think we do do the best we have with what we've got. This post also gives me overprivilege guilt when I think of all the parents who shop at the thrift stores and still can't afford good food.

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  5. First of all your daughter is you - and so cute!
    I used to buy organic - unfortunately I can't anymore it is very costly here in NY - we have some specialty supermarkets that specializes in organic foods but I don't shop there anymore- now I wonder with everything that we know why is it costly - I do buy fair trade coffee and in the supermarkets that I do shop in I often buy locally grown - and if it is offered I will buy on occasion organic - like I get Maple Syrup instead of regular syrup - and I get Organic Ketchup too - lastly I think the 70's mom vs the modern mom is that everything they knew, and everything we that we learned became a progression; between the gaps we learned a thing or two and hopefully our daughters will know more without the hard lessons. :)

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    1. It is a lot more expensive here the DC area than when we lived in NC. That's a great take-away! My kids will know more than I, and of course I'll change and develop as I learn more.

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  6. As the daughter of one of the 70's mommas, can tell you I don't think they much thought about their back to school decisions. It is funny how drastically it's changed- isn't it? I cannot believe how much money it now costs to send our kids off to public school each year:)! BTW, I love that throwback picture. Adorable.

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    1. It's absurd in some ways, but then I always go with the healthiest option we can afford. And second-guess myself all the way.

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  7. Cutest pictures! This is a lot of what my post was about, but different musings. I too agonized over my son's lunch contents, and we spent HOURS on homework, though I was never as responsible as you with the contents of his backpack or thermos. And the yes, we bought ALL hand-me-down, thrift shop clothes for both of us. You always wonder as a parent if you worried about the right things. That's the struggle, WHICH things should we agonize over? It's different for everyone, and it's all GOOD.

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    1. I LIKE you, Joy Christi. We choose the ones that are right for us, I guess, and that's what makes them good.

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  8. It's amazing we all lived to see adulthood, eating our pesticide-sprayed apples stored in our BPA Tupperware! Sometimes I feel like we have too much information, and it can be paralyzing. The other day my daughter asked if it was okay to eat a hot dog at the ballpark, because it wasn't nitrate free. Would you have ever asked that as a kid? Never. And I agree with Dyanne and Kristi - you and your daughter look like twins in those adorable photos!

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    1. Yeah, that's the thing. More knowledge, more fear. But we try to recognize that moderation is a good thing.

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  9. I was just talking with my mom the other day how recommendations just change over time. Back in the days you shouldn't "spoil" babies, feedings should happen every 4 hours, etc. Nowadays, we practice baby wearing, extended nursing, etc. I do wonder how things will have developed in another 30 years :-)

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    1. Not to mention things like drop-side cribs. Those were recalled after my daughter was born, but we kept using it and then with my son. Couldn't find anyplace to give it away to after he was done with it, though.

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  10. Go you!! You are a great modern mama, and you should be proud. (PS- my daughter sees a therapist for her anxiety, too, as you may know. So far the school year is going well, but our kids' anxiety definitely ramps up OURS at back-to-school time, doesn't it?) And I LOVE the 80s photo- classic. And adorable. :)

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    1. The horror of the anxiety is that you know you MADE it. Maybe not entirely, but you modeled it or bequethed it genetically. That's what gets me to take her to the shrink's office.

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  11. I'm with you 100% about teaching kids to eat healthy. It's so important for their growth and development. I blog on this topic all the time!
    (Plus, the pictures really are cute, too!)

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    1. I do try to do that, but I do love sweets!

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  12. Oh that pic is just PRECIOUS!!! It's amazing how different things are today, isn't it? Yeah- I call the parenting of yesterday "old school classic tradition" and ours of today? Modern overly attentive investing. Both work just fine it seems. :)

    You started kindergarten when I started high school. ACK. *Feeling old here*

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    1. Thanks, Christine. But you're beautiful, remember!

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  13. Oh yes I loved the whole post. It is different. However , I think you are right we have a lot of the same fears and anxieties. I also researched lunch boxes and our school does not allow backpacks...She goes to a montessori charter school(read free) Also my daughter loves going to Goodwill or Salvation Army for a good clothes shopping spree. I feel I can get her more clothes and not spend so much for cloth that is going to get stained and ripped and ruined most likely in her tree climbing and mud slinging fun.

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    1. Yes, what's I think, too. But you can also find some really nice stuff!
      I'm glad you got what I was trying to say. We may not have worried about the same stuff, but I can't imagine there's been a mama out there who hasn't worried she's doing the right thing.

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  14. Oh I see myself in you. It'll be interesting to see if your daughter carries on the tradition. In my case, my daughter (now 20 - how did THAT happen?) ensures that we have the appropriate water bottles etc. She volunteered for the David Suzuki Foundation a few years back and is very up to date on nasty chemicals in beauty products and household cleaning products.

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    1. I don't know how up to date I am on cosmetics (oh, don't even get me thinking about that!!!), but I do pay attention to the cleaning products. I have a few more to use up before I start making our own.
      I hope my daughter does carry some of this on. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in my plastic lunchbox above, I probably have a natural PB sandwich with homemade fig preserves on homemade bread. I'm carrying on traditions, as well.

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  15. I'm pretty sure I'm less modern mom and more old school. I grab backpacks and lunchboxes off the shelves at the big box store. I would prefer my kids buy lunch, but two of them insist on packing. Clothes are a non-issue, since they all wear uniforms. The only thing I have to buy each year are a few pairs of pants. (Boys CANNOT go two weeks without putting holes in their knees!)
    Perhaps it's because I go really, really old school and grow so much of our own food (organically) and hang our clothes on the line and recycle and compost and eat home-cooked meals that I don't worry so much about the other things like BPAs.
    That photo of little you...adorable!

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    1. Old school/new school, we both still grow our own food (well, I do just a little bit), recycle, and compost. I do use a dryer. And I use disposable toilet wands, which I totally admit is wasteful, but I just can't quit them.

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