26 Differences in Moms from the ’50s, ’80s, and Today

An old black and white photograph of a mother holding a birthday cake with one candle next to a baby. A photograph from the 1980s of a mother with her daughter. A photograph in the present day of a mother sitting in a chair holding two young children.

I obsess over historical novels and films. {Just ask my husband, who has sat through many a PBS documentary with me.} Sometimes I think I was supposed to be a mom in the 1950s, frying bacon in the kitchen and hosting league socials; plus, swing dresses with cinched waistlines have always flattered me. So how do moms of the past and present really stack up? Here are a few comparisons of moms from today to moms of the 1980s and 1950s.

1} When my first child was born, I was

Now: 29
1980s: 27
1950s: 20

2} For the birth announcement, we

Now: spent three hours with a professional photographer posing our baby wearing themed bonnets and hats while sitting in a variety of buckets, baskets, and floral arrangements.
1980s: mailed copies of the photo taken of our baby in the hospital crib.
1950s: sent a few handwritten announcements without a photo.

3} The nursery was decorated with

Now: a crib that would convert to a toddler bed and then a full-size bed. Our nursery theme was inspired by the Pottery Barn catalogue {as was our baby’s name}.
1980s: gender-neutral colors such as yellow and green. Ultrasounds existed but weren’t very accurate back then.
1950s: Nursery? What nursery? The baby slept next to me in a crib until it was time for a twin bed.

4} At the baby shower, we got

Now: everything on our registry – our pack ’n play, exersaucer, snap-n-go stroller, two brands of bottles, and two brands of pacifiers {to use depending on what the baby preferred}, a Diaper Genie, and a ton of designer baby clothes.
1980s: a few infant nightgowns, an outfit or two, and maybe a pair of crocheted booties. All gifts were gender-neutral, of course.
1950s: a few outfits.

5} Bottle or breast

Now: Breast
1980s: 50/50
1950s: Bottle

6} Strolling around town, we use

Now: an inline jogging stroller with optimal outward-facing views for two child passengers.
1980s: an umbrella stroller. It’s amazing how small it can collapse in the trunk!
1950s: a large metal buggy.

7} Our family drives

Now: an SUV.
1980s:  a minivan.
1950s: a station wagon.

8} In the car, I listen to

Now: my iTunes playlist with artists like Taylor Swift and Adele. On a bad day, KidBop {although, I admit some KidBop versions sound better than the originals}.
1980s: cassettes of Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and The Police.
1950s: my kids, screaming and laughing as they hop from seat to seat.

9} My school lunches consist of

Now: a bento box with grapes, carrots, string cheese, and celery sticks dipped in sunbutter, along with an environmentally friendly water bottle.
1980s: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of Doritos, a can of Coke or a Capri Sun, along with a Little Debbie treat.
1950s: a bologna and cheese sandwich, potato chips, a thermos of Kool-Aid, and a Hostess cupcake.

10} I prepare most meals in

Now: my blender. We drink our daily servings of vegetables along with fruit.
1980s: my microwave.
1950s: the oven or on the stove.

11} For a treat, I

Now: take the kids to get frozen yogurt.
1980s: take the kids for ice cream.
1950s: serve Jello.

12} I get household supplies from

Now: Amazon Prime and Pantry.
1980s: Target or the grocery store.
1950s: my maid. She brings her own.

13} I buy my kids clothes at

Now: Gymboree or online sites like Zulily. I sometimes win the chance to pay $75 for a smocked outfit through a Facebook auction.
1980s: Children’s Place.
1950s: Sears and Foley’s.

14} We celebrate our kids’ birthdays

Now: with a Pinterest-inspired bash complete with paper crafts, witty food displays, adult beverages for the parents, and party-themed games for our first child. For our second child, we go to a bounce house venue and bring plates from Party City.
1980s: in the backyard. We invite the neighbors over for pizza and hang a piñata to celebrate the birthday of our first child. For our second child, we go to McDonald’s. Not only do they feed all the guests, but Ronald McDonald makes an appearance!
1950s: with a few close friends dressed in their Sunday best. We play pin-the-tail on the donkey and serve cake.

15} My kids’ favorite shows are

Now: Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sophia the First, Sheriff Callie – pretty much anything on Disney Junior.
1980s: Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Nickelodeon cartoons.
1950s: local PBS shows and national programs such as The Mickey Mouse Club and The Howdy Doody Show.

16} My favorite shows are

Now: Downtown Abbey, The Bachelor, and Modern Family.
1980s: All My Children, Taxi, Cheers.
1950s:  I Love Lucy. Daytime programming is limited, very limited.

17} Together, our family watches

Now: nothing. There is not a show on prime-time television I would want my kids to watch.
1980s: Full House, Family Matters, The Wonder Years, America’s Funniest Home Videos, black-and-white reruns on Nick at Nite.
1950s: The Lawrence Welk Show.

18} My casual attire includes

Now: Lululemon active wear.
1980s: A tracksuit.
1950s: A blouse with pleated shorts.

19} When I need to unwind, I have a

Now: glass of wine.
1980s: pina colada or margarita.
1950s: Tom Collins or martini.

20} My favorite non-alcoholic beverage is

Now: green tea or a latte from Starbucks.
1980s: Coke, or when dieting, a Tab.
1950s: Coke.

21} I wear my hair

Now: straightened with a Chi or loosely curled with a wand.
1980s: shag or in a perm.
1950s: in a bouffant.

22} I keep in touch with my long-distance friends

Now: via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.
1980s: in any room in the house with my new, extra-long phone cord.
1950s: through handwritten letters.

23} When the girls get together, we

Now: go to dinner or a wine bar.
1980s: play bunco.
1950s: play bridge and other card games.

24} My hobbies include

Now: running marathons and roller derby.
1980s: tennis and puff paint.
1950s: sewing.

25} My husband’s hobbies include

Now: fantasy football.
1980s: racquetball.
1950s: bowling.

26} To stay fit, I

Now: hurl tires at Crossfit.
1980s: take a Jazzercise class at a local church.
1950s: chase my kids.

Motherhood may have looked different in the past than it does today, but what it means to be a mother has not changed. A mother provides  a love for her children and family that transcends time and inspires future generations to come.

What can you, your mom, or grandmother add to this list?


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