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, I’m exaggerating, 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 back 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 so I became 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 own 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.
What ever happened to the simple childhood with mothers yelling, “Be home at 6:00 for dinner” as kids ran 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 hard 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 and don’t seem worse for the wear, I wish for them a simpler life when their babies are born. It all goes too fast as it is. Why not slow down the pace a bit and enjoy the reason you had children in the first place, to enjoy your time together and love them