Americans will spend more than $22 billion on traditional Mother's Day gifts, including brunch and flowers. But younger moms prefer "experiences," and their wish lists include gift certificates for everything from meal delivery to yoga classes.
There are many other ways motherhood has changed from one generation to the next, which is not surprising when you consider that today there are 9 million millennial mothers who are digital natives. We reached out to two millennial moms — one stays at home, the other works — who've taken a somewhat different approach to motherhood.
Katie Serbinski, 30, a mom to two boys under age 3, is expecting her third child in July. She left her full-time job as a registered dietitian when her first child was born and now writes a healthy food blog from her Detroit home.
Social media has definitely changed motherhood, she says, giving rise to what she calls "comparitis." "Everyone is online and posting pictures and comments. You're constantly comparing yourself to other moms," she says.
Also Facebook and Instagram create the false impression that other moms are managing effortlessly. According to a national survey, more than 60 percent of young mothers reported that parenting is more competitive today than it used to be, with three-quarters trying to be a "perfect" mom. "Most people do not share the bad stuff online, like your child refusing to take a nap," she says with a laugh.
So what does Serbinski want for Mother's Day from her own boomer mom? Continuing emotional support. When she's having a difficult day with the children, Serbinski often calls her mom. "Just to have her tell me that the same [things] happened to her, and she survived, makes me feel better," she says. "Also she reminds me it's OK to turn on the TV for the kids while I try to make dinner. Getting that approval means a lot." Serbinski also appreciates when her parents take the children — even for just a few hours — which gives her a much-needed break. "You forget how peaceful the house can be without them!"
In Los Angeles, Julie Solomon, 31, has a 2 1/2-year-old son and works full time from home as a book publicist and lifestyle blogger for moms.
Like more than 50 percent of millennial moms, Solomon doesn't have family nearby. She was raised in Tennessee and surrounded by extended family, some of whom now question her need for paid child care. While it takes a village to raise a child for many moms in her position, Solomon says, "Sometimes you have to pay for that village."
With her blog, she taps into a demographic that spends almost two hours a day on their smartphones and does everything online, from shopping to sharing parenting info. For Mother's Day, she and many of her friends wish that the older generation was more understanding about how younger moms approach work differently.
"Just because we don't sit behind a desk all day doesn't mean we don't have jobs. Blogging is a career. It just didn't exist years ago," she says. The best gift that parents can give millennial moms is to "just be supportive of our goals."
In the interest of equal time, what do boomer moms want for Mother's Day? Ruth Nemzoff, the mother of three daughters and author of Don't Bite Your Tongue, believes the best gift is time, in the form of a one-on-one extended conversation with your adult child. Whether it's a casual lunch or a scheduled phone call, most moms will treasure "the time to talk uninterrupted — about our lives. Just the two of us."
Mary W. Quigley, a journalist and author, has written two books about motherhood and work. An NYU journalism professor, she is the mother of three adult children and blogs at Mothering21.com.