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About Magnificence in the Mundane

Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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Summer 2017: Parental Rewind

I basically make a living talking about motherhood and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. I think we would all admit—it ain’t easy. In retrospect, I have no idea how my mother did it! Modern day parents can take advantage of a lot of handy gadgets unavailable to the generation before us.

Now, don’t start jumping all over me, I know it is a natural evolution. I get it that my mother had the edge over, say, Ma Ingalls out there on the prairie but sometimes a look back in time can be very grounding. (Cue wavy dream sequence).

For instance, there were no gift cards back in the day so my mom had to budget time and money for real, live presents for every occasion. The thought of not being able to run out and pick up a generic gift card on the fly and shove it in a card gives me the hives. Oh and did I mention my mom paid cash or wrote a check for each purchase? I’m thinking you had to tack on 15 minutes to any shopping excursion because everyone in front of you was paying by check and the cashier had to write down each digit of your driver’s license number and add your phone number to the front.

And let us not forget that there was no texting us from the kitchen when our bedroom doors were closed. Oh sure, pretend you don’t text your kids in your own home. I am totally copping to it in order to give mad props to my mom who had to wander all over the house in order to get her point across. Without emoji’s I might add.

I also have no recollection of my mother ever getting a trinket for my teacher on the first day of school, the last day of school or for any holiday whatsoever. I think parents back then believed that reclaiming their children for the summer was gift enough to last 3 months. Yes, summer was literally 3 months when I was a kid.

Three glorious months with no summer homework except the pinky promise to read a book or two. So, my mom had no summer packet, cell phones, iPads or video games to lord over us when the bickering reached a fever pitch. I had to simply live in fear of disappointing my parents and possibly losing privileges for my transistor radio that had static most of the time anyway.

Soap operas were big when I was a kid. I think they were the precursor to the Housewives franchise with the bonus of being on every afternoon. My mom actually had time to watch them when we got home from school and she did, because there was nothing juicy on at night. If she wanted to settle in with a Marlboro Light in the evening, she was stuck watching Happy Days with us. At least until JR and “Dallas” debuted. But I was in high school by then and spent all my time with the phone cord of the land line stretched under my locked bedroom door.

If my mom wanted to snoop on me, it was work. There were no apps to help her track me or record whom I was speaking to or hanging with at any given time. My diary held the key to all my secrets but it was not on our iCloud or anything. So, first she had to find it and then suffer through a ton of boring prose in hopes of finding one nugget. I am sure my super-secret passcode—“Keep Out” in big loopy letters on the front was a HUGE deterrent.

However, despite all our advances, the one thing we don’t have now is patience. Parents back then had a mother lode. I mean, yes, my mom lost it on us occasionally but generally, there was not this concept of immediate gratification.

You had to wait days for pictures to be developed, keep calling until you didn’t get a busy signal, sing songs in the car when there was no radio reception, read a map and mark your route and read the whole newspaper if you wanted to know what was going on.

And that, my friends, is a distinct advantage our parents had over today’s parents. After all, the idea that anything with worth is worth waiting for is a principle that should stand the test of time.

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About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane. You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.


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