Modern motherhood is a far cry from yesteryear. Just preparing breakfast, for instance, today requires careful planning and dutiful attention to what is best for children. These days, the familiar bowl of breakfast cereal is often paired with organic, soy or even almond milk. Should you prepare “free range” or “natural eggs?” Forget the Colonel or Chicken McNuggets for lunch. Now moms shop for hormone-free, organic, or “cruelty-free” raised chicken breasts.
Preparing a nutritious meal for children is only a tiny part of the responsibilities of the modern mother. Mom’s have lots of choices these days both in and out of the household. Some of these are individual options, others are foisted upon them by the mass media. Fifty years ago there were no real choices or options open to mothers. They stayed at home, took care of the children and that was usually the end of the discussion. The modern mom faces a daily challenge to accomplish things that her mother—or grandmother—never had to consider. Many years ago, most moms didn’t fret over whether or not they were doing their babies long-term harm from using the common pacifier. In reality, they had so much work to do in maintaining a tidy household they were probably just happy that the baby would be quiet. As modern appliances came along, and mothers had more free time, things changed.
Choosing to be a mother
Because the Internet and cable have shown the modern mother all the things she may lack in parenthood, today’s mom has to juggle a myriad of home and outside interests. It may be harder to be a mom these days, and only in recent decades has becoming a parent truly been a choice. For most of history, it was a given for girls: You were a child, you grew up, you got married, you had kids, you became a grandmother, you grew old, you died. Now, having kids is totally optional, even if an unfair social stigma is sometimes attached to those women who may delay or forgo motherhood, or are unable to conceive a child.
Contrast parenting with working. Having a job is not an option—it is a necessity for most women. You may find work boring, frustrating or exhausting, but it is unavoidable. For the modern mom—even for those who feel a moral obligation and strong desire to have a child—parenthood is very much an option. Becoming a mother marks a major—but not inevitable—shift in life, and so the burden of parenthood can sometimes feel awfully heavy. A new mom does not share her experience with everyone in her generation, in the way that teenagers may share the turbulence of adolescence or how octogenarians share the struggles of old age. Deciding to become a mother is now a voluntary move replete with all the ups and downs, good days and bad days, either gleefully anticipated or completely unexpected.
Often judged by social media
The modern mom—by virtue of social media—is surrounded by a proliferation of parenting philosophies, health guidelines, education options and more. Being a mom today doesn’t just mean having a baby and rearing him/her to become a reasonably healthy, literate adult. From the positive pregnancy test onward, modern motherhood means navigating a dizzying array of contradictory advice on just about everything: What to eat and avoid during pregnancy? What painkillers (if any ) to accept during childbirth? Should you breastfeed or not? If so, can you do it in public? What’s best, cloth or disposable diapers? The new, modern mom must endure an excess of opinions about how to potty train their child? What age should the child begin kindergarten? What age do you pass on your religious faith to the child? Should you vaccinate your child? How old until the child can begin a second language? How old should the child be when left alone? How to arrange a playdate? How much TV time...exercise time...reading time...?