I was born in 1980 and had about the best upbringing ever. Of course my mom would've been awesome in any generation, but in honor of Mother's Day and the popular "Top 10" countdowns of the 80's, here's the top 10 reasons why being raised by an 80's mom was bitchin'. (I apologize in advance for the forced overuse of 80's slang.)
#10-She didn't have to leave the house to workout. No gym daycares for us. She got her aerobics on and her mom on at the same time. As you can tell, good habits rub off.
#9-They fed us awesome food before we knew it was bad for us. All this working out came in handy for the 80's kid. Unlike today, you were winning as a mom if you threw your kids a McDonald's birthday party. Chef Boyardee, Jell-O Pudding Pops, Smurf Berry Crunch, Kool-Aid in ALL the colors (red dye, schmed dye)...sure, they were just a little processed, but no doubt our snacks tasted way better than organic puffs and hummus.
#8-And speaking of not knowing what was bad for you yet, there was TV--and a lot of it. We 80's babies were really the first generation that had access to TV on a regular basis (some of my friends even had one in their room!) and moms back then weren't condemned for parking us in front of it from time to time. Some of my best memories of childhood involve TV: doing Jane Fonda workouts with my mom, having fancy snacks while watching the Miss USA pageant with my sister, and watching MTV countdowns with my friends. And I turned out okay nonetheless--go figure!
#7-They let us adult at a much earlier age (or at least pretend to). They say kids these days are in such a hurry to grow up but they've got nothing on our generation. The way we spent our youth trying to look and act like adults would not be very PC today. At six, I thought I was Krystle Carrington from Dynasty. I owned a faux fur coat and could be found in it on any given outing holding my bubble gum cigarette with one hand (that boasted those fabulous plastic toy fingernails of course) while applying Avon lipstick samples with the other. You could say I had the best of both worlds: the look of an adult without all the stress. My biggest worry in life was whether to apply the "office" or "evening" filter on my Clairol make-up mirror to get just the right look.
#6-They weren't distracted by smart phones & social media. I remember my 80's mom cleaning house, cooking, exercising, working, and playing with me but through all of it I remember her present, not distracted. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in a time when I never had to think "I wish she'd put that down and focus on me."
#5-She let me indulge my 80's fantasies. Through the Thriller jacket phase at 4, the lacy Madonna glove phase at 5, and the never-ending playing of the Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam record at 6, my mom always let me be ME. I'm sure deep down she worried about me singing Madonna songs in my room instead of nursery rhymes, but she was also smart enough to draw a lot of attention to it by forbidding it. The truth was, I had no idea what I was singing about, I just loved the music and that love for music turned into a love of dance, which became one of my biggest passions in life.
#4-We had the perfect balance of parenting styles back then. Every time 80's moms set the milk carton down on the table for breakfast they had to be reminded of missing children, which made them keep a close eye...but they didn't helicopter either. It was a time when it was still acceptable to let us play spotlight until 8:30 at night with our neighborhood friends (without a cell phone!). Where one could argue that kids in previous generations didn't have a voice, we also didn't have TOO MUCH voice--or at least we knew when to use it. My 80's mom had us on a leash, but it extended far and was only pulled back in when necessary.
#3-Our 80's mom looked more like our big sister. During a more materialistic time before yoga pants were all the rage, the 80's mom cared about her appearance yet wasn't as "buttoned-up" as earlier generations. Her style was much more hip--a lot like ours, actually. When I was ten my mom and I shared Benders (not the alcohol kind, the curler kind) and banana clips, slouch socks, and even perfume (remember Love's Baby Soft?) We dressed more like sisters than mom & daughter and I loved it. I'm just glad she never let me get the perm she had.
#2-She was a cooler mom probably because she wasn't so stressed out. There's been many a blog post written about this one. Parenting decisions didn't seem so scrutinized back then--we ate non-organic food, could ride bikes without helmets, and as the saying goes, we've lived to tell about it. And though you could argue that changes like improved bicycle safety and a greater knowledge of what we're feeding our children have been for good, it also meant less pressure for moms of that time. And she didn't have thousands of other moms to compare herself to on social media either.
#1-It was a material world, but I wasn't raised by a material girl. I think back to our modest upbringing and think "how did Mom make sure I had the cool Keds, one good pair of Guess jeans, and the dance lessons I wanted on that budget?" But really I do know how--by doing without for herself. I don't remember her getting her nails done, I remember her doing them herself--and well. She babysat on the side and made us modest (yet delicious) meals so we could have the things we wanted at special times...not all the time. I could expect not to get a toy on any average day at the store but could expect to have the recital outfit and dance shoes I needed. In other words, she mastered getting us what mattered, while putting her own wants second. And that's something that never goes out of style.