I recently sparked a debate with my mother when I suggested that just maybe parenting these days is more difficult than when she raised me. Sure, the improvements in disposable diapers alone give a good amount of leverage to her argument, however, there's no comparing the scrutiny of every little decision today's parents make. International discussions can be launched when one family makes an informed, calculated decision to allow their kids to take a walk to the park. At any moment you're one click away from a steady stream of photos and anecdotes of people who are doing it better than you. Battles are waged in comment boxes over everything from breastfeeding to staying home with your kids. It gets exhausting.
So instead of taking the low road and fighting with my mother, I'm proving my point by conducting an imaginary interview from the future with a mother in 1985.
How do your kids ride in the car?
Well, when they were babies, we had a seat that we'd usually set down in the back, unless we weren't going far. Then we'd just toss it up front. When they outgrew that we had a giant vinyl monstrosity. It weathered carsickness well, but caused the poor kid to sweat from every pore in their 28 pound body. Thankfully a good old seatbelt suffices for the three year old, and stretches across the laps of a couple of them when we carpool.
Where is your 3rd grader right now?
At the school playground a few blocks away. He'll come home when he's hungry. Or it gets dark.
How much screen time do you allow?
We have our regular line up of shows we watch as a family and they can play Super Mario Brothers until the machine gets too hot or they start fighting.
Can you confirm that the plastic in your kids' toys and eating utensils is BPA free?
How much of your kid's food is organic?
Are Spaghettios organic? No? Then I have no idea.
What is your policy on your child having a cell phone?
Cellphones cost $4,000. And who do they need to call?
How many ideas do you have pinned in your "kid's birthday party" folder?
I'm not sure I understand the question. I don't even have a folder for their birth certificates. Why would I have a folder about birthday parties? What's to decide? I order a cake from the grocery store and we buy a pack of character plates from Kmart and call it a day. A few times we've sprung for the party package at the roller skating rink. They warm pizza with a light bulb and throw in some ice cream cups with tiny wooden spoons.
Without checking, how many bottles of sunblock are currently in your house?
Do you mean baby oil?
When is it acceptable to leave your kid in the car alone?
When I lock the doors?
There. I win.
What do you think? Does anyone ever have it "easier"?