How far women have come is reflected in every crook and cranny of Squamish.
It wasn’t that long ago that most local wives and mothers existed outside the labour force, as a 1974 provincial housing department report on the district shows.
Men worked, wives cared for them and the family.
A few local women recalled to The Chief recently that in the 1970s they couldn’t buy a house or even sign a cheque without a husband’s signature. Married women were expected to change their names on any credit or department store cards to Mrs. Husband’s Name.
For the Mrs., caring for family, the home — and community — were a woman’s priority.
Of course, this focus was only affordable for some women — primarily white, straight, middle class and married women.
Nevertheless, for many in Squamish a few decades ago, nurturing — not working — was seen as being a female’s responsibility.
Flash forward, and in 2018 Squamish has female political and business leaders — trailblazers.
Modern Squamish families come in all shapes and sizes, and many women have partners who share the load of family in a way unimaginable just a generation ago. But while the promise of both technology and feminism was more freedom, both seem to have led to a new set of shackles.
Women today are getting less sleep — according to a study in the American Academy of Neurology — and spend 50 per cent more time on unpaid work at home than their male counterparts, according to Stats Can.
Modern Squamish mothers are not only still expected to care for the children and the home, but to work full time — or better yet start a successful business — shuttle children to and from enriching activities; watch over those children like security guards to ensure their safety; help with school work, and — especially here in Squamish — remain as fit as an Olympian.
And that is not all.
The ideal local mom will dress herself and her kids in eco-friendly clothing and feed the family locally sourced, organic meals.
Judging by local Facebook and Pinterest pages, Squamish moms should also post professional quality photographs of all of these endeavours — including during pregnancy and childbirth — with inspiring, grammatically and politically correct sayings.
And they should smile through it all with their hair coiffed; eyebrows plucked and skin dewy fresh.
What is expected of the modern mother is impossible to achieve. Enough already.
In a few decades, women are going to look back at this time and raise an eyebrow just as the modern woman does looking back on the limitations of female expectations in the 1970s.
Squamish women can’t change the culture overnight any more than their predecessors could, but they can adjust their thinking and how they interact with other mothers. Let’s drop the “perfect mother” goal and branding. Exhale.
As many a local yoga teacher advises, take what works, leave what doesn’t.
Happy Mother’s Day.