Becoming a parent makes you think about your own childhood. It seems most have a newfound appreciation for their parents and a new understanding of the things they might have been going through when they were children and didn’t know about the complexities of life. For some becoming a parent and looking back on your own childhood, makes you realize you’d never choose to do some of the things your parents did. But… times were different.
I remember having the conversation of car seats with my mother. In this age, when half of the women in the mom groups on Facebook are preaching about keeping their children rear facing until they’re 3 or older or spending upwards of $300 on a car seat, it boggles my mind to think that my parents never used a car seat for either me or my sister. They only had one car and she said they’d just come out and not many people had them. She told me how she carried us home in her lap. I asked what she did when she had to go somewhere with both me and my sister. She told me she’d swaddle Sally up in a laundry basket on the floor of the car and just buckle me in. I couldn’t imagine that. I suppose she was doing what worked, what she needed to… getting through the day in the life as a mama.
My parents didn’t have much when they were young and had us. Our family vacations were never going someplace fancy like Florida or California to see some far out Disney attraction like a lot of my friends were doing. We always went camping. That was special for us. Some of my best memories are of nights spent in tents. And now with my own family that’s what we choose to do most times, though we usually manage to slip in some other travel too.
Mom breastfed us, though her doctor recommended using formula. It was the more popular choice to formula feed. She was happy to nurse us though and it was the cheaper alternative. She didn’t know about La Leche League. There wasn’t a local breastfeeding café for her to attend. It’s not as if she could look up online where to get breastfeeding support. I guess as a consequence we were introduced solids much sooner than most breastfed babes and weaned just before a year. I first chose to breastfeed just because I knew my mom breastfed us. Of course I was afforded many more resources and support. My mom was a little confused about me still nursing when my boys were toddlers. But she accepted it and wished she’d known more about it in her time.
I find it odd that many of the things my parents did out of necessity and cash constraints, I’ve chosen to do not because I can’t afford the alternative but because it was what seemed right to me. Breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and family camping; these are choices I’ve made that make me feel good about raising my family.
It was a different time though and my parents were quite young and naïve. My mom was married and had two girls by the time she was 22. I wasn’t ready to take on children until my 30’s. I can remember my dad taking us into bars with him and I can remember his lit cigarettes in the car ashtray while he made a trip into the B-Quick. Don’t think I could wrap my brain around smoking and children together, let alone in a car. I was allowed to walk around the block to my cousin’s house by the time I was 6. I don’t think my 7 year old has yet been anywhere but two or three houses down from ours alone.
There have been many times when I’ve found something about my parent’s choices questionable and boggling. Then I remember they were doing the best they could with where they were and what they had. That’s really all I’m doing. The best I can with who I am and what I have. Isn’t it what we’re all doing?