We’ve all heard that old school parenting advice from our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and random old ladies at the grocery store that make us wonder how the human race has possibly survived. I had a talk with my mother today about how different things were back when she was a child. AKA: How things were a trillion times more dangerous and exhausting. As one of 11 children born and raised in the Canadian country she has seen her share of parenting hits and misses. Get ready to clutch those pearls ladies, cause we’re about to visit the terrifying world of #TBP (Throw-back Parenting).
Baby Carriages of DOOM: Unlike the 27 point harnesses of today (okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration), the carriages of yore were basket shaped catastrophes on wheels. There were no straps, no harness of any kind to keep the child inside. Mother told me of a situation where some of her siblings had 2 carriages out and were horsing around with my uncle inside one. They crashed them together demolition derby style and Uncle falls out and breaks his arm. The doctor might have been having an off day, seeing as how put my uncles cast on too tight…and that’s the story of how he almost lost the use of his hand. The harness isn’t looking so bad now.
What’s a Carseat?: Mom said she had never heard of a carseat until they had to bring me home in one. When she was a child they piled 6 or 7 children in the back of a car. If there was a wee one it would be held by someone else. Not having seatbelts for everyone wasn’t a problem since there were no seatbelts. They would have definitely qualified for the carpool lane had there been one.
DIY Baby Formula: My grandmother fed her babies the popular nutrition of her time. Canned milk. Yes, the kind the adults would use to make food or put in their coffee. While it worked for them, I’m not endorsing it. We’ve come a long way with nutritious formula and breastfeeding awareness thank goodness. I still can’t help but imagine, however, the “#cannedisbest” and “#normalizecanfeeding” hashtags going viral on Instagram accompanied with pictures of smiling moms holding their cans (not to be confused with the euphemism).
The Clothes Wringer of Mutilation: Being from the country, and a modest upbringing, my mother can still remember not having running water. However, everyone was cloth diapered. Let that sink in a bit. No running water, and 11 children and countless years of soiled diapers. And no running water. I cloth diaper and the grossest thing about it is when you accidentally touch the poo trying to get them into the washer. Not only did they touch it, they washed all those bad boys by hand, and used a device that apparently rivaled the medieval “rack” to wring them out. My Aunt caught her arm in the “wringer” once and has a scar to this day. I’m feeling extra thankful for my God-knows-how-old top loader.
The Husband-Free Home Birth: In this day and age, a homebirth is a researched decision made with thought and planning. It’s upsides usually include being in a safe environment surrounded by comforting things. You know, like your family. In my grandmothers day it was a given. 8 out of 11 of her children were born at home (including a set of twins) and my Gramps made sure to stay out of the way. There was no hand holding or birth coaching. Somebody had to work. The doctor was called and the kids were told he brought the baby in his black doctor’s bag.
So many things have changed and I think we can all agree, for the better. The main reason I think we have survived is a mothers love never changes and it finds a way to overcome most obstacles. This does not include seatbelts, as I’ve learned from this chat with Mom. So buckle up because no matter what the decade, motherhood is a fulfilling but bumpy ride.