By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
Every morning when I get dressed, I pull on my athletic leggings that haven’t been worn for athletics in months, throw my hair into a messy bun I hope will look like intentionally-rumpled beach waves to my colleagues on Zoom, and finish the look with a super heavy overcoat I like to call guilt.
Yep, since starting this mom journey 11-years-ago, I’ve worn guilt more often than my bra, which is saying something because the girls could handle some work on their posture.
I feel guilty for working (or for not working), for making the kids healthy food when they could make it themselves, for making them make their own food when I need to be working, for signing them up for organized sports instead of spending more time at home, and for spending too much time at home instead of going on playdates.
I feel guilty for not doing enough as a homeschooling mom, and also for forgetting to brush my daughter’s long, curly hair before dinner rolls around. I feel guilty for all the bad genetics and mental health histories in their families, for losing my ever-loving mind when the robot vacuum plowed through dog poop and spread it all over the kitchen, and for generally not being a calmer, more peaceful mom.
I feel guilty for picking up the cell phone and guilty for reading my own book when the kids are awake. There’s this aggressive “seize-the-day” and “the-days-are-long-but-the-years-are-short” voice chanting in my mind all day, every day – and all night, too. Based on my social media feed, I’d say I’m not alone in that…and it sucks.
I also think it hasn’t always been this way.
Seriously, what happened to 80’s mom? Those of you in my age group remember her well: she would have never tolerated shaming for the three-hours she spent talking to her friends on the phone, the twenty-foot cord stretched across the living room, creating a choking hazard right at neck height for young children. And if those children had suggested that she put that phone down and pay attention to them…well, they never did. Because you know what’s fun? Playtime when mom is on the phone and not closely supervising.
80’s mom did not feel one bit bad about getting a teenage babysitter so she and your dad could get dolled up and go out to a real dinner. She certainly wouldn’t have promised to make it up to you – after all, she left y’all with a grocery store pizza and a VHS from Blockbuster. And what’s better than a night without parents, with a questionably mature teenage girl holding down the fort? Nothing.
When you went on vacation, you went to have fun – without the ever-present pressure to create “quality family time.” And guess what? You had quality family time. And fun.
Not only did she read books when you were awake, but there’s a good chance those books were trashy romance novels. And she was completely unapologetic about the absence of classic literature.
That’s not to say that 80’s mom neglected her kids. She was present. She was fun. She wiped boo-boos and read Goosebumps, and sometimes she even let you ride in the rear-facing seat in the back of the station wagon. You know, the one without seatbelts?
Here’s the thing – I’m all for the way we now understand safety and emotional health, but I feel like my peers and I are better because our mothers didn’t view parenting as rocket science where one wrong move means the kid will blow up. (Actually, they made movie about that, and dad managed to get them back to normal size at the end. All’s well that ends well.) Society didn’t begrudge moms simple pleasures like talking on the phone, hanging out with friends while the kids played independently, and generally doing the best they could and having some fun doing it.
This summer, I’ve decided to bring back 80’s mom. I have Jessica Simpson’s memoir ready to read, Kool-Aid in the fridge, and permission – from myself – the take off the mantle of guilt, slap on some SPF 700, and work on my summer tan. While the kids play independently, of course.
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