We love our mums and if praxis teaches anything, it’s that we’ll be turning into them at one point or another. Does that mean we’re already repeating, i.e. cloning the mistakes they had been making when they were young and restless? Probably. Does that also mean we’ll end up living the lives they are now living? Errrm, hopefully not.
Whether your mum belong to the Silent Generation, the Hippie movement, the Baby Boomers or any period after, they’ve all had different experiences, diverse regrets and, at this point, such a vast opus of memories that we can only dream of having ourselves one day.
A better life?
The general feeling is that our mums used to live a better life than we do; well, equality of sexes and freedom of vote aside, at least. When mothers often reminisce about their past, they talk about dances, travelling and cooking classes. They speak of riots and social movements they have participated in; they talk about whom they’ve loved and lost and they never forget to emphasise how beautiful and easy friendships were.
I don’t know about you, but each time I hear about my mum’s adventures, I instantly get goosebumps.
Compared to our current corporate lives and all that freedom-of-everything trapped behind glass walls, the growing mutual impotence to socialise with our peers and the lack of emotional capacity to respond to another emotion (not to mention the promiscuity masked as sexual freedoms), I think our mums had it good and didn’t even know it.
Fascinated with the stories I’ve heard, I brainstormed a list of things our mums had but didn’t appreciate in their twenties. Here we go…
What mum had that she might not have appreciated:
A family life
With equality, women are burdened with everything; and while we’re absolutely loving the fact we can do and achieve anything we want—except make babies with ourselves—we sometimes get overwhelmed.
Our mums lived in the time of transition when things were only just cooking; so, they had the opportunity to be with the family, actually see their children grow and build strong bonds with them. On top of that, they had the option to work if they wanted to – but also, the option not to work if they felt like it. Dear mums, you have no idea how great you had it.
(Editor’s note: I’m estimating that Emma is in her twenties, which would make her mum in her forties/fifties. I think many women of that era and the previous era (Gen X and the Baby Boomers) would disagree with this. Baby Boomer women and to a less degree Gen X women paved the way for young women like Emma to get into the workforce. Their challenges including trying to get jobs in a male dominated industry full of ‘acceptable’ sexism; struggling to rise in their career; being told they should be a secretary or at home with their children; no child support if the woman was deserted and thus as a mother was forced to work; overlooked for jobs when a man was a candidate; and, if you were pregnant you often had to leave your job; to name just a few of the struggles. Thought’s Ruth, our Nanny Babe?)
The joy of socialising
Back then, people used to socialise; everyone would find the time to mingle and, judging from what I’ve heard from my mum and her friends (yes, she is still friends with them) – it was beautiful, easy and light.
Today, we can barely schedule a 30-minute coffee with someone who lives in the street nearby, let alone organise picnics, dinners, movie nights or dinners with friends… and even if we do, it needs a two or three week notice, at least!
I’m not sure if they didn’t appreciate it but they definitely didn’t care as much as we do today; somehow, they just went with it unlike my generation who are obsessed with every single line on bump on our body. I am guessing the reason they didn’t care for beauty treatments as much as we do today is because they weren’t as pressed with the media-imposed standards of beauty. They’d put their face mask on, do their hair, rely on a tad of makeup for effect and that was that. I envy it!
(Editor’s note: ah, I’ll be interested to hear what our mature readers have to say. I agree with Emma that perhaps there was not such a focus on being thin nor the scope of body issues we face today for the Boomers, but as for being presentable, I think women of past generations had considerable pressure upon them to maintain their appearance. We head out in our leisure and gym wear, but my grandmother would not have left the house without wearing her ‘Sunday best’ – corset, hair and make-up done to perfection. When I started my career in the late 80s, we still wore stockings to work. Many of the younger employees today appear to dress far more casually for the workplace.)
Most of our mums lived in the time when history was being made; sure, we never know that’s the fact while living it, but still… they didn’t appreciate enough the beauty of change and everything they were accomplishing for the generations to come. I guess they weren’t into changes for the makeup of it but the purpose. Beautiful.
Dear mums, thank you. We absolutely envy the lives you lead (well, at least some of them) and we thank you for investing us.
With love, all the daughters in the world.