Hi, my name is [Desperate Farmwife], and I am a millennial mother.

I’m not alone, of course. Currently, nine out of 10 mothers of young children worldwide are from the millennial generation; meaning we were born between 1981 and 1996. We are the last generation to remember a time before the internet. We are the main economic decision makers in the average family household. Research shows we are, generally speaking, a very different breed from our own mothers and also quite different from Gen Z, who are the generation behind us.

I jokingly say to other millennial moms that we have all been to therapy and this is our defining trait. We are (largely) older first-time mothers than previous generations, and more of us have higher education degrees compared to our mams (in fairness, though, our level of education is probably directly attributable to their parenting and support).

Consciously different

A recent Pew Research study also shows that we are consciously parenting differently to our own parents. This, to me, isn’t shocking news – don’t most parents aim to do this? But a common theme from this research was that millennials strive to be “involved parents”. Spending more one-on-one time with our children, speaking to them plainly and openly about sensitive subjects (like sex) and validating feelings are just a few ways millennial parents try to be “involved”.

I am no different – I try to incorporate all of those things into my parenting – but also? I’m just exhausted. Didn’t our mammies also tell us, as young millennial women, that we could have it all: family, wealth and a meaningful career? This was, in my humble opinion, an absolute lie.

Big fat lie

Now, fast approaching 40, I know I cannot have it all. I can’t be an involved mother with a high-flying career and a home which could grace the pages of an interior design magazine. I know we women on farms are supposed to be staking our rightful claim as farmers, but I’m not sure I could add that title to my already long list of duties.

My mother was the breadwinner in my family and worked full-time my entire childhood. We lived with my grandmother and my aunties lived close by, so childcare was never an issue. My father worked from home on the farm, so he was never far away.

With my mother working full-time, my brothers and I became very self-sufficient from a young age. We learned how to do our own laundry and cook meals. We helped our father with the farm and got part-time jobs as soon as we were old enough.

I think having a working mother definitely shaped my life in a positive way. She always told me I could have it all and do whatever I wanted with my life. Have kids and have the career.

Don’t Google

While I am grateful for the hard work and struggles the generations of women before us experienced to be able to provide us with the choice to work, be a mother or be single and live the way we want, I don’t have the support system my own mam had when my brothers and I were younger. I don’t have the free childcare or the granny living at home. I have the farming husband, but like many farmers today he also works off-farm. Most people can’t “just” be a farmer anymore. And parenting today is a million times more complicated than parenting in the ’80s and ’90s was – I know that is a divisive comment, but I really believe it’s true.

Today’s parents have an internet’s worth of knowledge at their fingertips. When my babies had a fever, a Google search would send me into panic about the many possible causes and potential outcomes. Knowing my children will face a world of online bullying, sexting and social media pressures make my own teenage years seem like a walk in the park.

Zero support

In every parenting article, I am reminded of the potential trauma I am exposing my children to every time I yell or give out. So with my brilliant, full-time career, the constant chaos of a messy house, the parenting fails, a loving marriage to maintain, farm and off-farm work and the lack of family support … yeah, I yell. And I guess I am traumatising my children.

When I yell, though, am I giving out to them or to the system in which I currently find myself? Am I just mad at myself for believing the lie that I could really “have it all”? Maybe someday, when they’re older and more self-reliant. But now? Not a hope.

In the meantime, I’ll just add that to the list of “a-ha” moments to share at my next therapy session.

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