Thursday, May 08, 2014

What kind of Mom do you want to be when you grow up?

For about a year, we've been watching reruns of The Cosby Show with the kids. We started last summer and we're in the middle of season 3. (We do not watch a lot of TV with our kids, partly because there is not that much modern TV that is appropriate for kids.)

While watching the Cosby show I am regularly struck with the urge to say to my kids "This! YES YES YES this!! Please remember this." Like on the episode where Cliff and Claire say to their kids: if you ever have a problem we want you to come to us and let us help you because even though we may get mad, Nobody, I mean Nobody, loves you like we do. Let us help.

And I am watching my kids watching this show and Hoping that this is soaking in.

Yes. Kiddos, This! YES!

Meanwhile, after the kiddos have gone off to bed, I've been watching reruns of Modern Family by myself.

And I am just struck dumb by the difference between the parents I grew up watching on TV and the parents on TV now.

The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Family Ties...

These were Moms that we looked up to. I mean sure they made mistakes, and the mistakes were funny. But in general, they were better than average. They were better than we are. They were Moms to aspire to be when you grew up.

Today's moms are like a mashup of all of our worst mistakes and faults. Designed to make us laugh and to make us feel better about ourselves.They are not better than average. I am not even sure they are as good as average. They make us think:
I'll never be June Cleaver but at least I'm a better mom than that. 

And I wonder what this new "feel better" TV mom is doing to our mom ideal. If we spend all our time watching moms that leave us thinking, phew I'm not that bad. What ideal are we reaching for? Is there any ideal to reach for?
Or do we then just stop reaching?

It's not that I think that we shouldn't feel good about the job we are doing as moms. I know I am never going to be Claire Huxtable, but that doesn't mean I am not a good mom. It is important to feel good about the job I am doing.

It's more that I think that it is also important to have something to reach for. Someone to look up to; to aspire to be. The lion share of what it takes to be a good mom, in my estimation, is to just keep trying. As hard as we can. (Which granted somedays isn't very hard at all). Our kids know when we are giving it our all. They know when we are trying, and in this trying is the ultimate expression of our love.

I hope my mom didn't feel bad about her work as a mom when she and I sat and watched Cosby together. I know I don't feel bad as I watch with my kids. Instead, I regularly find my self wanting to be Claire when I watch the show.

Yes! This! Yes! This is the mom I want to be! Yes!

And I feel like for awhile afterward I do try harder, and I do emulate what I see.

When I watch today's TV mom's I never want to be them. Instead, I am relieved that I am doing better than them. I have that flaw, but oh thank goodness I don't have all those flaws. They're funny and they're forgiving, but they don't give me something to look up to like the TV moms I grew up with did. There's no motivation here to try harder.

So is this harmless entertainment? Does it matter what I watch? Does it affect the kind of mom I am?

Or does the decline in the role models we have to watch on TV actually make us slowly and steadily worse?
In the end, are we what we watch?

What do you think?
What TV moms are you watching?

What kind of Mom do you want to be when you grow up?

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