Monday, November 28, 2011

The Evolution of the Modern Mom

I know I’m going to date myself by saying this, but I grew up watching old black and white sitcoms on Nick at Nite when I was a kid. Remember in the mid eighties when Nick at Nite used to show old shows like Donna Reed, Leave it to Beaver, Mr. Ed? The shows our parents used to watch? To this day I still can’t turn on Nick at night now as seeing that Friends now qualifies as an old show just depresses me.

What did each of those old shows in common? A very traditional stay at home Mom, slaving all day over a dinner, dusting her already immaculate house, with all the time in the world to care for her children. The traditional Mom.

I am about as different from these Moms as they come. My “slaving” over dinner means throwing some sort of meat in the crock pot and heading off for a day at work hoping the meal will be great when I return. Dusting? Yeah I’m pretty sure I have not done that this decade. Time? I’m not sure what that word is anymore!

This weekend I got to thinking about how Moms have changed over the years. The evolution from Traditional Moms to Modern Moms. This thought actually came to me in a strange way. I was raised by the Cadillac of mothers. I also was (and still am) extremely close to my Grandma. So you can say I’ve had excellent role models on how to mother. My Grandma is the vision of a traditional Mom to me. When I was a kid, my Grandma would pull out some old ragged recipe and make pierogi and tell me how the recipe had been passed down to her by the generation above her. The recipes were always extremely challenging. I used to sit with her in her kitchen and watch her make pierogi all day. From the homemade dough, to the homemade filling, the recipes had no shortcuts, no time savers. But I can remember sitting down for the meals and just feeling warm and loved. And that’s what my Grandma is to me: warm, peaceful, traditional.

Then there is my Mom. My Mom was a part of the “changing” generation…half traditional Mom, half Modern Mom. She was for many years a busy single Mom and so sure we had our Pizza Hut nights…but she still would make pierogi like my Grandma taught her, she still made meals from scratch. She still always seemed to have all the time in the world. Sure when technology stepped in she loved the help, but still she kept many of the traditional ways.

And now there is me. I don’t just appreciate technology and the shortcuts it brings, I require it for survival. Complicated recipes? No way. I follow blogs and shows with the fewest ingredients and the fastest cook times. I’m night and day from the way my Grandma parented all those years ago.

The problem is when you were raised with women who were fairly traditional, you can’t help but want to be that kind of Mom to your children, even though there are not enough hours in the day. I want to be that warmth, peace, constant, to my kids. I want my kids when they are older to just crave Mom’s famous potatoes, or just know that a weekend at Mom’s would fix a stressful situation. So yep, I guess you can say this Modern Mom is a Traditional Mom wannabe.

But there is just one problem…REALITY. I simply don’t have the time. So of course this has lead to tons of improvising. The pierogi recipe passed down for decades? Yeah, although this would probably cause some eye rolling from the Polish women branches above me on my family tree…sorry ladies I don’t have time for that. Instead, I found a recipe I could tweak and improvise to turn the flavors into a quick pierogi casserole using lasagna noodles instead of homemade dough.

But you know what? My modern take on a traditional recipe, tasted just the same as I could remember. It invoked the same traditional comfort food feelings even though it was prepared in a fraction of the time.

The fact that my Pierogi Cheat lead to the same result, made me start to think that maybe even though our Modern Mom ways would shock the Traditional Moms maybe we still can have the same legacy. In our quest to stay afloat amidst all the balls being thrown at us, can we still be a constant, peaceful figure to our kids? And the traditional Moms of past, would they be jealous of the way we live our modern lives, or would they pity us knowing their bonds with their kids in that slow paced world were so much stronger?

Well, I think I know the answer. Over the weekend, I visited my family in my hometown, and went to see my Grandma. It’s funny how deep down I always expect to see my Grandma through Norman Rockwell glasses…you know, sitting by a warm fire, rocking in an old rocking chair with a creak as she tips back, knitting some sweater by hand. But you know what? I can throw away those glasses, because she’s nothing like that. Sure, she sits by a fire, but it is a computerized “fake” fire that she controls by a remote to set the temperature and exact flame height and time. Her rocking chair has long been traded in for a state of the art chair with all the gadgets. Homecooked meals? Nah, she lets others do that. When her traditional ways couldn’t be done anymore due to lack of time and energy, well she did what we do…she evolved, she improvised. And yet still she radiates more warmth and comfort then her modern mechanical fire.

So yes, Modern Mommies, it’s official…even though we live extremely modern lives, we can still be good Moms, with all the nostalgia, warmth and love that goes along with that title. Even though my kids’ dinners often come from take out or a microwave, maybe they’ll just remember that we sat down together to eat it. So my kids download books on an iPad that can read to them, maybe they will remember the feeling of sitting on my lap and snuggling while listening to the story. So don’t beat yourself up if you take some shortcuts, use technology to make your life easier. Go ahead and eat your pierogi cheat with pride! I’m quite certain that if June Cleaver lived in the world we have today, she’d throw some corn dogs in the microwave for the Beaver, kick her feet up on the couch, let her automatic vacuum clean her carpet, and enjoy a very large glass of wine. Yes, Modern Mommies, there is still hope for us after all.

Modern Mom Mandi

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