How Did Our Parents Do It?

While the refrain, “When I was your age…” makes for eye rolls in kids, I must admit I am guilty of uttering it numerous times to my son. Yes, the rose-colored glasses of reflection make for softer edges around what once was, but…times are indeed different. And on the flip side of what was different when I was a kid for kids themselves, I think about what was different for the parents. After nights where my husband and I are finally done with our Have Tos around 10pm (to then finally sit and check email), we ask ourselves…how did our parents do it?

I don’t know about you, but I never remember my mom or dad consumed with ToDos like I am. Let me adjust my rose-colored glasses for a moment, but here’s what I recall of an average night when I was a kid: My dad came home and read the paper a bit while my mom finished getting dinner ready. We ate a leisurely dinner at the kitchen table. My sister and I took care of the kitchen while my mom and dad went to the family room…maybe they worked crossword puzzles, maybe they finished reading the paper, and—of course—there was the TV to enjoy. End of scene.

Yes, the nights where I had a softball or basketball game meant the leisurely dinner didn’t happen, so we did indeed juggle that in some way. And my kid isn’t old enough to do the dishes yet (and have them actually be clean), so there’s that to look forward to. And my mom was a stay-at-home mom, so I’m sure that helped, too. One thing I recall, though, is that we kids weren’t in several activities at once…it was almost always one thing at a time, until I was in high school. Today it seems like parents need a flow chart to route their kids to their next activities accordingly. So…I ask…what are we doing to ourselves? Is our push to give our kids “everything” really in their best interest? In ours?

And then I think of all the things that have since been created to make things happen “faster” or “better.” My mom never needed to bother with email, and she certainly didn’t feel the need to clear her Google Reader. My dad came home from work at 5pm. And he was HOME. He didn’t get work emails or texts. While work may have been on his mind, it wasn’t gobbling up his home time. The lines of distinction were much clearer. Now…everything is a blur. Thanks to technology, we may be freer to be more mobile, but we are also expected to be “available” at all hours. And I am guilty of feeding right into it all…getting screen sucked from one thing to another. I fear it is a black hole of “progress.”

There is no turning back, I know. But my desire to better balance life’s tugs is ongoing. I’m not ready to throw in the towel. And even if I did, I’d just get a late-night Google Calendar reminder that it was time to do the laundry anyway.

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