Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A grandmother recalls … Was being a mother easier or harder back then?

Being a new mother, I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. So naturally I have been asking my mother for advice on just about everything. Having raised my older sister, younger brother and myself in the 80's and 90's, I thought she would be appropriate for a guest blog! 

Things have certainly changed since my mother had her first child 30 years ago, but some things always remain the same.

A grandmother Recalls

You've probably heard it all by now. You might have heard that 'today's mothers don't know how easy they have it', or that 'I'm glad I don't have to be a mother in today's world', or just about any variation in between.

As a relatively new grandmother, who had her own three children some thirty years ago, all I can say is that it is different now. Some things are easier and some are harder and some eternally the same, but overall mothering is simply different in every age and for every mother.

Thirty years ago we did a lot by trial and error. I had my first baby away from family and friends, when my husband and I lived for a while in West Germany. I didn't get very much mothering advice. Because my mother's letters (paper, of course) took a week or two to travel the distance it was hard to both give and receive little bits of advice. I wanted to know how often to change a nappy, whether I needed to burp my baby, and what I should do about cradle cap. But I just had to find my own way through, by guesswork really.

That was certainly hard but, on the other hand, it was far less confusing than in today's information-rich world.

We didn't have much money back then. We weren't dirt poor, but baby goods were expensive and we couldn't afford all that many. When I brought my baby home from the hospital the only newborn clothes she had was just one all-in-one baby suit, a couple of nighties, and some singlets. If these got dirty (and these were the days of disposable nappies without elasticised sides) then she just had to wear a baby suit which was rather too big for her. She may have looked a bit funny but, hey, she doesn't remember that now.

Baby clothes were frequently either hand-me-downs or home-made. I hand-sewed little nighties from re-used fabric and knitted cardigans and booties. Some of them were, I admit, pretty cute, but I feel very envious of the choices in lovely baby clothes available to today's mothers.

For the first four months of my daughter's life all our washing was done in our bathroom basin. Except for sheets, that is, as we had to do those in the bath. After we returned to Australia and our beloved washing machine we made the change to cloth nappies. The endless rounds of filling the nappy bucket, putting on a daily nappy wash and hanging out those ever-thinning nappies was relentless. Today's disposables would have been a dream come true!

The cot we used for all three of our children was handed on from my sister whose two children had slept happily in it. It had originally been found at the tip, been given a good clean up and a coat of paint, and finished off with a new mattress. Who knows how many babies slept in it during its life!

Likewise our pram was a hand-me-down. It had two positions: up and down. And pretty basic wheels without big cushioning tyres. How I longed for a better pram, but alas our budget wouldn't stretch that far.

One thing that hasn't changed much is sleeping. Babies simply don't sleep as much or as easily as most mothers would like. All I can say is – wait another fifteen years or so and you won't be able to get them out of bed!

From a grandmother's viewpoint, mothering is the same frustrating, joyous roller coaster it was thirty years ago. Well, the same but different.

love nan

xo

Linking with:
Ultimate Rabbit Hole
The Multitasking Mummy

22 comments:

  1. So right about the same but different! Great to get Nan on the job with this post! :-)

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    1. Yes, she did a very good job. I might ask her to guest blog on a regular basis, its great to have the voice of a grandparent!

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  2. My baby photos all consist of the same several outfits - many of which were too big in the beginning & then too small as the months wore on.
    Today we are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to baby clothes...& blankets, sheets, floor mats, & on & on. I must admit though, I often dream of culling 90% of our children's clothes, just to make it easier on the washing department!

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    1. Haha, I still have some of my baby outfits my mother saved. We have way too many clothes too! I think my girl only managed to wear some of her smaller clothes once or twice before she grew out of them! Clothes now are so cheap and easy to come by, I get a bit sad she doesnt get to wear them all.

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  3. Gorgeous post! What a wonderful idea to have your mum write a post. I don't know how I would have survived without disposable nappies.

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    1. I think I'll ask her to do a regular post, I enjoy having her perspective on modern parenting as well!
      I would have been lost without disposables. My mother tells me the disposables they had were so dreadful they leaked constantly. She isnt sure how these new ones operate and puts them on wrong every time :) Its a bit funny really.

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  4. What a lovely perspective, My Mother has said very similar things to me. Easier, difficult, same same but different! My Mother did it without her Mother around and I don't know how she did it as I have and still do rely heavily on my own Mother for support and advice. Thanks for linking up to the Ultimate Rabbit Hole. Jx

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    1. We've been staying with my parents for the last couple of weeks, and I have to say having help with my bub has been the only thing keeping me sane! Mothers are wonderful people :) when we were babies and helping with our babies!

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  5. How lovely! It's so important to share these stories and experiences across generations. I'm seeing my mum tomorrow and I'm going to ask her about what it was like to raise my sister and I.

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    1. Since having my bub, I've been hearing all these stories of when I was a baby that I never knew about, its wonderful hearing all these stories! I'm sure you'll feel the same :)

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  6. This is a wonderful post and sounds very similar to my Mums experience when she had me 32 years ago. It's definitely the same and different, social media for starters is something that wasn't around when my Mum had me and in many ways I wish it wasn't when I had my son because there's so much comparing and finger pointing. I can remember the cloth nappies my mum used on myself and my sisters, I just don't know how I would do it myself, washing them every day, dealing with the numerous leakages....but she did it and said it wasn't that bad.

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    1. My mother has told me all about her cloth nappy disasters! I'm very thankful for modern nappies! even the cloth ones now are good! Social media has definitely killed a lot of mother's confidence I believe, it is now so easy for everyone to judge each other. Although my mother was judged for wanting to breastfeed my sister when they lived in Germany, apparently it wasn't the 'done' thing at the time. Crazy to think - now its all we hear about!

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  7. We do fill our lives with "stuff" now compared to our parents and grandparents days. Yes some of it makes life easier but ultimately the "stuff" doesn't make our children healthier, happier and brighter. Great post.

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    1. I can't believe how much stuff my daughter has! So many toys she doesn't have time to play with them all! My mother has a photo of my older sister and I playing with a bucket of pegs. I think imagination has been commercialised out of the modern world. We all need to be entertained all the time, rather than creating fun from nothing.

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  8. What a lovely post from a new grandmother - thanks for sharing this. I purposely didn't read too much and did a lot by trial and error with my first as there was just too much information out there. So true about sleep. I am hanging out for the day my kids don't want to get out of bed! Thanks for linking up with Mummy Mondays. #TeamMM

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    1. Yes, the teenage years when all they want to do is sleep. But then there's a whole host of other problems! Raising kids, just when you think it'll get easier, it doesn't!

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  9. Oh Nan, I loved that. We are so spoilt arent we. Thank you for sharing
    Thanks for sharing with us for The Sunday Brunch Magazine, Bel & Eliza x

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  10. This is interesting isn't it. I don't think we appreciate things like the internet for support and advice, the availability of high tech buggies and disposable nappies until someone points out how different it was a generation ago. X #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Definitely! I think things were harder not having available advice, although now there is so much pressure on us telling us how we should parent. Its amazing how motherhood changes, yet is stressful in every generation!

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  11. This is a great - a new perspective on parent blogging (or actually an older perspective, I suppose). Maybe granny blogging could be the new big thing! Very interesting, anyway. My mum has said exactly the same thing about how amazing the range of affordable clothing available for babies now is.

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    1. I buy way too much for my girl! I can't stop buying clothes, there are so many options. My mother often tells me how many things my baby has, but I cant help it

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  12. I have actually pondered on this subject plenty.... and I'm glad to know that one thing that is the same is the sleep issue so we know that we are not doing something incredibly wrong that causes those babies not to want to sleep! Mine are no longer babies but boy oh boy I tell ya, many many many nights where I had less than 5 hours sleep and I am so glad to be on the other side of that adventure... at least for the sake of lost sleep!

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