Hi, my name is Jamie, and I am a Millennial mom. (Whew! It feels so good to get that off my chest.) As someone in that category, there's a lot of stuff I hear said about me and, well, not all of it is nice. As a result, there are things we Millennial moms wish you'd say. By "you" I mean both my peers, but especially friends and family belonging to earlier generations and specifically other moms from earlier generations. There's a lot I'm not hearing, and I think it could do a lot toward intergenerational harmony to acknowledge it.
To some, the idea of a Millennial Mom sounds like a joke all on its own. Often seen as perennially in their late-teens or early 20s, Millennials are often thought of as being too young to even consider parenthood. But the truth of the matter is our age range is technically between 16 to 36, and while lots of Millennials are forgoing having kids, 90 percent of children born today are born to *drumroll please* Millennials!
There are definitely some aspects of the gig that Millennial moms do differently than their own mothers and grandmothers. However, in observing thousands of years of human history, I've noticed a lot more similarities than differences. (It's why audiences can still connect with the themes presented in, say, Agamemnon or Lysistrata.) Frankly, a lot of the things we're hearing about as being "unique" to our whiny, entitled generation is almost certainly stuff previous generations of moms rolled their eyes in response to as well. So, with all this in mind, know that the following sentences would be music to our ears:
"Oh, I Didn't Know That!"
Everyone wants the best, safest, and healthiest outcomes for our babies. But, as the years go by, best practices sometimes change in light of new research and discoveries. For example, in the '80s and early '90s, my mother was taught to always put her babies to sleep on their tummies. Sleeping position wasn't even on my grandmother's radar. My great-grandmother, born premature, used to talk about how she was placed in a shoe box on top of the stove to keep warm. (No word on whether she was on her back or tummy, but WTF?! Who puts a baby on the stove?) Nowadays, research has determined that "back is best," and putting a baby to sleep on their back significantly reduces instances of SIDS.
Years down the line, we Millennial Moms will no doubt be confronted with new information that will cast doubt on our current parenting practices. We may well look back in horror as we think, "Wow. I thought I was doing the best thing I could do based on contemporary research, but it turns out that X is really dangerous for babies!" When that day comes, I really hope we Millennial Moms will not respond the way too many of our moms and grandmas do now under the same circumstances.
That's baloney! Why I did X and you turned out just fine. This new information is obviously stupid trash specifically designed by scientists and experts to make me feel bad somehow. Here. Give me your baby! I'm going to do that thing just to prove to you I was right.
Seriously, guys, this isn't personal and we're not blaming you for anything. We're just being advised differently than you were. So, instead of frantically struggling to justify your own behavior (which no one was asking you to do, by the way, because there's no need), how about you just admit, "Oh! I didn't know that! Now I do! Thanks for telling me. I guess you're always learning new things, huh?"
"Your Baby, Your Rules"
Please. Please. This is actually, you know, how it works from a legal perspective and barring unfortunate circumstances. It would be really lovely if the people in our lives got that, too. Also, I have no doubt that generations of mothers have been condescended by their own elders and loathed every second of it. How quickly some forget.
We don't need a parade or a medal or anything, but a little positivity goes a long way. A lot of times (and I'm sure this is true of parents throughout the centuries) it feels like the only time our parenting is commented on is when someone has arbitrarily decided we're screwing up. Those moments, on top of the myriad difficulties of parenting in general, can really bog a person down.
We get over it, because we're Millennials and used to disappointment, but oh how lovely it would be to hear someone lift us up and let us know, "This is hard, but you're kicking ass. Go you."
Again, I doubt the most important aspects of being a mother have changed all that much. However, moms today are exposed to so many different parenting philosophies than in the past (thank you, internet!), for better or for worse, that it's often less, "What am I going to do" as it is, "Which of these things am I going to do, and why?"
Rather than be scoffed at as paranoid or overly-complicated (or just plain crazy), it would be nice if someone acknowledged that these decisions can be thoughtful and intentional. That we're not doing the things we're doing out because they're trendy, but because we've given our options serious thought.
"I Wish I'd Had A Smart Phone When I Was Raising Kids"
Seriously, everyone likes to act as though Millennials and Millennials alone are obsessed with their phones. Some of y'all love them just as much as we do, folks. And you know what? It's super useful when it comes to kids. Baby have a weird rash? Google it. Or snap a picture and text it to your dermatologist friend. On a business trip and want to see and talk to your toddler? Video chat! Want to keep four children's schedules handy at all times? Put them in your phone. Need to know how to get to the Smiths' house for a play date? Literally just ask your phone for directions. Bored with your usual playground and want to find a new one? This information is all at your fingertips.
Also? Need three goddamn minutes to yourself? Bury your head in your phone for a bit to text a friend.
"I Did The Same Thing When Mine Were Little"
We would love to hear what we all know is actually the truth: that as parents, no matter when we had our babies, we have way more in common than not.
"Tell Me More About That..."
We're making the decisions for ourselves and our families for a reason. Rather than dismiss it as nonsense, maybe ask us what's motivating our actions. Why do we feel passionately about, say, making our own baby food, cloth diapering, or talking about feelings? Ask us! We're happy to let you know the method to our madness.
Your Non-Judgmental Advice
I'm sure you have insights and perspectives I have not considered, and I want to know about them. One should be open to hearing new ideas and learning the things someone else has to teach. So long as those lessons are not shoved down our throats, it can be a good (or at the very least educational) experience for everyone involved.
(Oh, and don't get huffy if I hear you out and still don't come around to your way of thinking: it's not necessarily an indictment of your choices, it just might not be for me.)
"No One Is Perfect"
Motherhood has been fetishized for a longass time, so moms feeling like they are being held up to an impossible standard cannot, I imagine, be a completely new feeling. That said, ours is the first generation parenting with social media, which at its worst can be an insidious tool of Patriarchal forces to make us feel like disorganized, schlumpy failures.
When Millennial moms are reassured by people saying things like, "Actually, the seemingly constant barrage of picture-perfect images of mom and motherhood are just artifice: no one has it all together," it's refreshing and encouraging.
"Your Generation Makes Me Hopeful"
Because we're constantly hearing how we're the worst generation and the reason for all the woes in the world: social, political, economic, and otherwise. It would be nice to hear, "Actually, you guys are engaged and thoughtful and resourceful and you're doing a good job with those kids. We believe in you."