In retrospect, sitcoms of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, portrayed mothering in a much different light than the networks of the 21st century. I vividly remember being a preteen watching shows like Family Ties, The Cosby Show, and The Brady Brunch feeling confident that I would be able to effortlessly replicate the duties of the happy-go-lucky mothers I saw floating across the screen in aprons. In the span of a little less than an hour not including commercials, these amazing women somehow managed to cook meals, fold several loads of clothes, solve the problems of their entire household, clean the house, tuck everyone in, and read an article from their favorite magazine before turning out the lights and kissing their smiling husbands on the cheek.
Many years later I would come to realize that my mothering style would differ greatly from that of Claire Huxtable, Elyse Keaton, and Carol Brady. I guess I must have missed the episode where Claire suffered from bouts of postpartum depression and Elyse walked around snapping at her family due to sleep deprivation while Carol Brady tried to convince Mike to go to counseling to save their marriage. Suffice it to say that the shows I had been watching for all of my pre-adult life had set me up for a very rude awakening.
When I had my daughter in 1997, I was faced with a harsh yet sobering truth; I was far more similar to Roseanne Connor than I would ever be to the aforementioned super moms above. It was a let down to say the least and I had to accept the fact that in a 24 hour period of time, not only would I fall short of accomplishing the tasks that these women were able to master in an episode’s time span, but that I would miss the intended mark in other aspects of my life as well. But did it mean that I was less than a TV mom?
Today, I can answer that question with a resounding no. Seeing present day TV moms like Colombian actress Sofia Vergara of Modern Family wearing a blouse with a plunging neckline and 5” heels tends to make me smile from ear to ear. Though we live in a time now where fashion and the Internet rule, mothers haven’t changed much from the days of old. The moms of yesteryear simply wanted what was best for their children and families and the same rings true today.
So as I take inventory of the mother I have been and continue to become to my 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son day in and day out, I embrace the fact that it’s a job with ambiguous requirements, sometimes little to no compensation, yet one that I am honored to do because at the end of the day I’m never going to be laid off from this position.