My grandmother turned 87 yesterday. In her honor, her five children, their spouses and her siblings turned out for a special birthday lunch. In between the memories of neighborhood streets and first boyfriends and having the Italian prisoners of war over for dinner (apparently my great-grandparents would just check them out of the base for the night, like a movie at Blockbuster) the old people talked about their children and grandchildren, and how different their lives are in this twenty-first century.
The conversation was prompted by an article in the local newspaper about generation gaps. If you thought the difference between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers was huge, take a look at the expanse between the Boomers and THEIR kids. (What are we calling ourselves these days anyway? I know I'm too young to be a Gen X'er, but am I Generation Y? A Millenial?) One great-aunt groused about how young people today don't work as hard as she and her husband did. Another great-aunt said young people seem to be so much smarter than they were in her day.
But the facet of this discussion that intrigues me the most: how did young mothers get through their day? And you know exactly what I'm talking about. When my grandmother and my mother were my age and raising babies and toddlers, THERE WAS NO INTERNET.
I mean, can you even IMAGINE? Perish the thought, online friends. How in the world did these mothers function? No blogs for entertainment and solace and new friends. No message boards for information. No Twitter for virtual conversations. No GOOGLE! What did these mothers do when their two-year-olds developed mysterious looking rashes on their bottoms? Did it first occur to them to actually pick up a phone and call the DOCTOR?
I'm guessing that when my grandmother had small children there were a lot of other stay-at-home mothers around doing the exact same thing. And my mother tells me that her phone cord could practically wrap around the house three times, so no matter what she was doing she could be talking to a friend at the same time. I have more than a few mom friends to see during the week, and even more to chat with on the phone during nap time, but I'm not sure I'd be sane enough to type this post if I didn't also have my little online mommy world. Sometimes other mothers, usually of older children, give me sympathetic smiles and ask me how everything is going. Such small babies! Two of them! Are you doing okay? Feeling isolated? Like you can't handle LIFE? And I usually just have to nod and go along with them, because if I answered honestly I would have to explain Blogging and that gets me even weirder looks. But I don't know WHY. I mean, my mommy blogger world is the biggest reason I can honestly say I DON'T feel isolated as a stay-at-home mother.
(Although it's not just the Internet. How did moms survive before the advent of such fabulous contraptions as the Pack 'n Play, something I use daily? Or baby monitors? Or frozen chicken nuggets? Or Thomas the Train DVDs? Seriously: HOW DID YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT THOMAS?)
I'm sure every generation of mothers finds their way to deal, even if it's Valium and wine. (Betty Friedan and Betty Draper, I'm looking at you!) And I know it's not impossible to raise children without a top-of-the-line video monitor and fifteen boxes of mac & cheese in the pantry. But I have to say, I feel really thankful to be powering through the baby and toddler years during the explosion of social media and plentiful frozen food.
Have blogs and Twitter and all the rest given you a place to use the big words your toddler doesn't understand? Do you know how you'd get through a day without Sesame Street? Does the thought of being a mom 30 or 60 years ago terrify you to no end? Just me? Okay, fine, I'm about to go update my Facebook status. See ya.