Back in the olden days of the 1950’s and 1960’s, times were hard. Children in San Carlos, CA, had to trudge ten miles in the snow to school– uphill in both directions and in bare feet!
Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a requirement that I get to St. Charles Catholic Grammar School on my own, either by foot or bike. Today’s common mode of luxury transportation, the carpool, didn’t exist.
Life was simple then. We had only one black and white TV, one rotary phone (no call waiting), and a huge oak tree in the backyard with a dangling rope that served as a swing when I wasn’t hanging one of my brothers. And, for our main source of entertainment, books from the local library.
Shopping sprees at the mall were an unheard of phenomenon. My mother only bought me something new when I outgrew what I had, or if a new influx of hand-me-downs didn’t arrive from the neighbor next door. And from the moment I turned ten, I had a job. Summer vacations were filled with babysitting and teaching swim lessons.
When my four children came on the scene in the early 1980’s, I vowed to give them everything I never had thus, becoming an overindulgent mother.
First, there were the shoes that lit up as they learned to walk because I didn’t want to miss one glittery moment of their development. If one new bathing suit was good, ten were better. God forbid they put a wet one back on. And, as they got older, each had their computer and cell phone. Staying connected with friends was tantamount.
Yes, I spoiled my children. I was determined to lasso the moon and hand it to them on a Pottery Barn wooden platter. But, now that they’re out of the house and on their own, I’ve had time to reflect on it all and I must say, perhaps it was I who had the ideal childhood.
Every moment of their youth was accounted for. Not only did they spend long days in school with intense instruction, but there were hours and hours of homework that couldn’t even begin until the afternoon sports, dance, music lessons, and swim classes had been completed.
Whatever happened to the simple childhood with mothers yelling, “be home at 6:00 for dinner,” as kids ran off to play in the neighborhood?
Today, the competition to be the best feels like it’s at an all-time high. Just look at the rigor it takes to get into college, and once they’re finally done, it starts all over with landing a job in these trying economic times.
Perhaps those olden days weren’t so bad after all. I truly grew up in a carefree, fairytale land. The only struggle I remember was scratching and clawing my brothers to get to the kitchen first to grab the last chocolate chip cookie.
While I’m happy to say my four kids somehow survived it all (despite this age of technology and their excessively enabling mother) and didn’t seem worse for the wear, I wish for them a simpler life when their babies are born. I pray for more time snuggling in bed and dinnertime conversation than the current gathering around the TV in the family room, each with head hung low as they log into their smart phones or Ipads. I hope for family vacations where it’s just the family, no friends were allowed. And, I wish for a time in nature with just bare feet exploring the grass and sand. No mopeds, no roller blades, no skateboards. Just their toes and nature.
It all goes too fast as it is. I want my kids to, unlike me, slow down the pace a bit and enjoy the reason you have children in the first place; your time together and the love you share.
On so many levels, life is easier, informative, and exciting in this new age of instant gratification. When we want to know something, all we have to do is type the word, Google, and up comes the answer. But, is there something you wish was still in vogue that our children love to call obsolete. For me, I wish schools still had home economics. It’s where I learned to cook a real dinner and sew my clothes. How about you?