January 18, 2013  |  

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.

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  • Great article! I especially liked your closing paragraph. Thank you for reiterating the realities of motherhood

  • Arthur D

    i think it works better if people know their roles. parents must be parents and be able to be parents with the kids instead working late or being on the road working. and yo i find the biggest issue with kids today is the same from all the other generations, nobody talks to them as they should or even think to. parents don’t even know what their kids listen to on their phones. but i’m getting away from the topic.

  • Arthur D

    mm. claire huxtable would probably be my ideal woman. smart, funny,
    sexy, sexual, common sense out the wazoo, beautiful, and was not just a
    wife but a friend to her hubby. that is a woman.

  • LionessTru1

    I find I am more like the mum in Malcolm in the Middle, especially now my son is 11yrs old. I wish for organisation and calm in my house, but single parenthood is harder then having a ggod man to share the load with when you both work; but then again singleparenting is easier than being with an unsuppportive or worse partner.
    We can all look at the ideals and try to attain, but be too hard on ourselves if we fall short, as long as we provide support, love and an ear to listen, and advice(usually ignored lol) then it is easy to sleep at night. Although having LLCoolJ to lie next to and keep a listen out for intruders would help me, and many other women rest easier I’m sure.

  • Jenna

    Claire Huxtable was an attorney and Elyse Keaton was an architect.Carol Brady was a sahm at first, but she later became a real estate agent. Parents actually spend more time with their children these days than they used to. Here’s a link to an article about it:

  • CW

    You are so right in how you decsrcibed motherhood and parenting then and now. Mothers and grandmothers were more matured and discipline really mattered. I raised two beautiful girls. I think a did a beautiful job with the help of sitcoms like the Huxtables , family and community support. Times have changed. Something to think about.Hmmmm

  • very interesting how you put this into words….one main thing different (besides being on TV) is that they were stay at home moms and/or their husbands were the bread winners while they did the taking care of the families; hence being able to fold clothes, cook, clean, etc. Now in these times both parents (if they’re both around) are working, kids home more alone and we all playing catch up in the evenings after being stressed out at a job we don’t like, traffic and at the grocery store penny pinching…..Modern Day Claire….YES we are all her loving our kids to the fullest and doing what we have to do with our circumstances!

  • JP

    Sid, I enjoyed the article as I am a part of the past generations, all of them. I agree the playbook they were using got misplaced or thrown away, or it just never made it to our bookshelf, or did we have time to read a book, can’t remember. With the social networks telling your kids what you may not want them to know yet, well it takes away a lot of the control or so we think. During the Huxtable era the parents were in control, what they said was gospel, believe it or else. I know one thing that has not changed, MOTHERS want the same thing for their children, Good Health, the best Education possible and the best Opportunities, the ability to compete on an even playing field, most of all to Love, Laugh and be HAPPY!!!