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Celebrating the evolution of moms

Through the elements: a mother carries her child through flood waters in Argentina, it is an example of the care mothers have shown for their offspring and families through the ages

On the eve of Mothering Sunday here is a look at, and a celebration of, what motherhood means today and in the past, beginning with the poignant discovery of a 4,800-year-old fossilised mother and child found by archeologists in Taiwan last month.

The discovery epitomised motherhood in a poignant way. Here was a mother in the her last moments on Earth focused on a tiny baby wrapped in her arms.

Who was she? Where did she come from? What was her name? How did she live?

To some, these fossils would be considered gruesome, but I was absolutely entranced at this display of life from almost 5,000 years ago.

We can only conjecture at this point about this mom and her life. But what we can surmise with little doubt is that no matter whether the Neolithic Age or modern day, mothers have been fierce protectors of their children.

Moms have come a long way. Through this amazing discovery, and other archeological research, we are reminded that for thousands of years life was harsh. Lifespans were short, while there were physical challenges just to obtain adequate food. We simply cannot comprehend the daily, all encompassing efforts our remote ancestors had to make just to survive.

Instead, we can only really visualise the lives of mothers in recent times. And that, at most, stretches to a mere four generations; namely our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. But even across this limited timeframe we have seen tremendous changes in almost every aspect of the lives of mothers.

Structurally, moms’ lives have changed. Here is a brief review of the “old-fashioned ways”.

• From hand washing to machines and disposables. Those endless rows of cloth diapers stretching out on clothes lines. Since large families were normal in the past, the linens routine never stopped.

• Cooking and feeding. Every item was prepared by hand in the home kitchen: baby food, meals, curing meats, canning and preparing from home vegetable gardens, bread-making, even wine and beer production for family consumption.

• Cleaning. Dusters, brooms, mops and elbow grease. No high-powered central vac.

• Clothing. All sewn at home unless real wealth in the family. How could we do without Amazon and shopping at local stores?

• Household allowance. Moms were expected to manage the family budget — they seldom worked outside the home. Little of that kind of money management remains. Moms need to know everything about the family finances.

Physically, moms’ lives have changed for the better.

Life was still not easy even a few generations back. Mothers especially aged faster, and no wonder with the significantly larger families they looked after. In our old family photos, women aged 40 looked over 60 by today’s perspectives. Mothers were expected to dress and act their age. Longevity existed in some families, but the lifeline of decent pensions and retirement healthcare was non-existent. So it was not always a victory to live to be very old.

Today, it is the reverse. Grandmothers of 60 look younger than 40, thanks to better nutrition and exercise, less wear and tear on their body, and better access to healthcare. Fashion statements have become very individualised. The “dressing your age criteria” no longer stands.

The love of a mother has never known any boundaries. In our era of medical advancement mothers can become their own grandmothers. Bravely, some mothers have volunteered to be a surrogate mom for their daughter if they could not be a mother themselves due to illness and disability.

Culturally, moms’ lives have changed dramatically. Whether borne of financial necessity, personal identity, or determined ambition, millions of women now work outside the home as a matter of course.

Mothers today participate in employment in just about every career position. Some run major corporations or have become role models, others assume hazardous military occupations, start-up tech companies, manage huge investment portfolios, campaign for public office or fly into space. Many have pursued other vocations and still manage households jointly with partners, or alone, in raising children.

The days of household allowances provided by a single wage earner — generally the dad — have gone the way of rotary telephones. Moms are superb money managers, vigorous web bloggers, financial advisers, budgeteers and gurus.

It is worth looking at a few examples, including the likes of www.thriftyfrugalmom.com, www.frugal-mama.com, and www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/women-female-financial-gurus/

And who could not read Michelle Singletary and her financial column, The Colour of Money at The Washington Post? Try her 21-Day Financial Fast at www.michellesingletary.com/home.html

It has been said that women are adept at multitasking and detailed tasks. This is true. Based upon calculations at Salary.com the amount of time moms spend performing ten typical job functions would equate to an annual pay of $113,568 for stay at home moms, half of that if the mom worked. For further reading, go to http://blog.taxact.com/ceo-mom-moms-time-really-worth/

Try the Mom Wizard at Salary.com calculator to find out what your Mom is worth in the economy for all the work she does for you at home. The link is: http://swz.salary.com/MomSalaryWizard/LayoutScripts/Mswl_NewSearch.aspx

Moms are courageous. We should not forget mothers in far less advantageous circumstances than ours due to war, violence, difficult socioeconomic conditions, and serious transgressions against their own humanity.

Moms have come a long way. We inherit the legacy of their passionate efforts to care for their families. We should commit to carry forward their ideals and dreams for ourselves and for future generations.

We remember them all. And bless them, this day.

Dedicated in memory of Anna Clarine Sawyer Harris and Alexandra Pokrant Myron.

Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS JSM, Masters of Law: International Tax and Financial Services. Appointed to the Professional Tax Advisory Council, American Citizens Abroad, https://americansabroad.org/. The Pondstraddler* Life™ financial perspectives for Bermuda residents with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com