When I get to feeling overwhelmed with motherhood, when I find myself bitching about how hard it is to be a parent, I think about those that came before me. The mothers. I think about how much harder they had it and then I pick myself up by my bra straps and get on with the business of getting on.
If you presented one of those moms with a baby wipe warmer they would laugh your pansy ass all the way back to the giant big box retailer you probably bought it from.
Fuggeddabout warm wipes… Have you ever asked your grandma how she made a bottle or took a walk with her babies? Baby carrier? What’s that? I use my arms, she’d say. I mean, look at the evolution of the stroller, for example. At some points in history it was so bulky it was pulled by a small horse, for crying out loud.
The semantics of parenting (diaper changing, bottle feeding, milk pumping, transporting baby) have been made so much easier, because of the invention of various baby gear items and the betterment of stock items like diapers, bottles and food. Fortunately, with the advent of the internet (arguably a parent’s best friend and most valuable tool) we can go back and look at old ads featuring baby gear and other parenting-related items and, with the crystal clear vantage point that time automatically affords us, see how far we’ve actually come and realize how lucky we really are to be able to parent in this day and age.
When my mother-in-law described to me the twenty-minute process she used to sterilize a bottle and mix formula I was blown away. Twenty minutes. To make a bottle. Or the way they strapped babies into plastic car seats which were then placed loosely on the car seat. My mom remembers how every time she took a corner a bit fast she’d have to reach over to steady the baby seat containing my brother she’d jammed into the floor area of the passenger seat.
It was after a conversation with my mother-in-law that I started perusing old advertisements featuring babies and baby products. Some of the ads will make your jaw drop, maybe because of the belief about parenting implied in the ad, maybe the product itself will send an eyebrow skyward. Whatever it is, each of the 25 ads you’re about to see are fascinating.
So check it out. Glimpse what parenting a baby would’ve been like forty, fifty, sixty and even seventy years ago. Next time you get to feeling overwhelmed by parenting in this decade, remember what it was like for your mom or your grandma and you’ll feel grateful for the knowledge and the tools we, as parents, have at our fingertips.
You can also find Monica Bielanko on her personal blog, The Girl Who.
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