• Carly Rae

Generation X Mums

I throw my bag on the ground and rush next door to my neighbour Jan’s house. I pull my heels off as I hop in a frenzy, already 45 minutes late! It is the same old routine. Dashing out of work and speeding home for my kids.

“Sorry Jan, I had a work meeting I wasn’t expecting,” I apologise out of breath.

“It’s no trouble,” My elderly friend calmly responds.

She is sitting with my three girls having a relaxing afternoon tea on her back porch as always.

“I tried to leave work early, but it’s so hard…”

“I understand. You do not need to explain,” she assures me. “I think it’s so much harder being a mum in the 21st century than it was in my day! There is too much pressure to do everything now.”

I love Jan for so many reasons, but today I love her for releasing some of my mother-guilt and stress.

It made me think about the expectations that modern mums have placed upon them. We are told that we can “have it all” and “do it all”, but everything comes with a price. Sometimes it feels like we are trying to achieve unattainable perfection in all areas of our lives.

We are the Generation X Mums (kids who were born between 1965 - 1979). Parenting has become more hands-on than previous eras, yet we have less time to spend with our children because we are working full-time. House prices and the cost of living is higher, which puts pressure on families to have two salaries. Gen X mums are also trying to keep up with all the kid’s schoolwork, after-school activities, hobbies, plus their personal maintenance.

Did all these pressures exist in Jan’s era of the Baby Boomers (born 1940-1960’s)? Perhaps we are trying to have it all now, but also trying to maintain the old Baby Boomer values and be home and available for our children.

In the era we grew up in, we were left to our own devices, often playing on the streets until the streetlights came on. No nannies, after-school care services, and “helicopter parenting” then! We are now referred to as the “latchkey kids”.

I learned most of my life lessons from watching The Wonder Years, Family Ties and The Cosby Show! Most hot meals were served up from the microwave as our feminist mothers were turning social norms upside down. Mums had started working and the family unit was disintegrating. We were raised in a time of broken households, with 50% divorce rates.

Where does this leave us, Generation X Mums of today? We are struggling to find balance as we navigate through our parenting journey. We are raising our kids in a time with new challenges every day. We have a fast-developing digital world that is hard to keep up with and women are still working hard yet getting paid less.

Yes, there are more choices for women now, but having those choices doesn’t mean we have to do it all and have it all, because, without proper balance in our lives, we could just as easily lose it all.

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