There are many things that set me off, and this particular sentence is one of them-
The sentence I’m talking about is when people say, “Well, my mother did it, so you can do it too and you shouldn’t complain about it.” Two things here:
- “Did it” is referring to anything in relation to raising a family, such as cleaning the house, making a meal on time, dealing with tantrums, and so on.
- When people say mothers “complain,” they most often are NOT. They are simply stating, from time to time, how difficult their life is and they are ALLOWED to do that because they rarely do, YET the rare times they do, why is it labelled as complaining? Furthermore, mothers expressing how tired or overloaded they are is a way to ask for help to the person they are so called complaining to, or women are simply wanting to have someone to listen to them and have someone empathize- which again, IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE, so please don’t make us feel guilty for doing that.
What some people fail to realize is that society has changed, and our communities in which we raise our children are no longer what they used to be.
I was born and raised in Canada and remember playing outside with my siblings all summer long- we would ride our bikes around the block, walk to the park by ourselves and play for hours, and even walk or bike to the community convenience store to buy sugary goodies by ourselves (a good 10 minute walk from our home).
In the winter, we would build snowmen in our front yards and play with the neighborhood kids in the snow. Meanwhile, our mothers had ample time for cooking, washing all the dishes (in fact, I don’t remember our kitchen sink ever overflowing with dirty dishes), cleaning, and even fitting in a lengthy phone call with their friends because we were not annoying them and happily out of their way enjoying the outdoors year-round!
In Pakistan (where my parents are from), most families would live in a joint family system where the mother in law would watch over the children while the mother would carry out the household chores and cooking. If there was more than one daughter in law living in the home, even better- the housework got done faster (in most cases, if both daughter in laws were cooperative that is). In addition, it was quite common for the families to hire nannies and cleaners if they had a good income coming into the home (still the case today).
Furthermore, back home there was a village watching over your children where everybody knew everybody- If your children were playing outside and got hurt, chances were that someone nearby would notice and come get you to inform you. In other words, the entire community was watching over your children back home, which is amazing!
Now, let’s talk about the mothers living in the west today:
Most of us don’t have that community surrounding us like our mothers and grandmothers did back home, most of us can’t afford to hire daily help, and most of us don’t live in a joint family system. We also can’t just let our children play outside by themselves anymore, as times are such that we fear for the safety of our children.
Instead, we are mostly raising our family on our own; we are expected to “get it all done” and make it seem like it’s easy when it’s not. The truth is, it can get overwhelming and it can get lonely, especially without the support of family, neighbors, and the community. Anyone making the comparison to how their or how our mothers “did it” should not be making that comparison because it’s simply not a fair comparison at all.
One last (important) note:
We cannot assume that just because our mothers made it seem like it was easy raising us, that it actually was. I know many women who struggled to raise their families, they just never spoke up about it. ALL mothers of ALL generations faced some type of challenge or challenges while mothering, no one woman had it completely easy. The difference between mothers of yesterday and today is that nowadays women are speaking up and bringing awareness of the struggles that we face, such as depression, whereas our mothers were silent.
Let’s not bring mothers down by downplaying their struggles. Instead, let’s hear them out and give them the support they deserve.