Friday, August 5, 2011

Yes, it's all your mother's fault

I am certain that when this one hit my mom’s inbox, she cringed and didn’t really want to open it, but pure curiosity got to her and that’s why she’s reading it right now.  But, it’s not what she thinks . . .
Family fun today was mommy hired a nanny to shuttle the kids to and fro and also entertain Ego while mommy took a time out day.  And my time out got me thinking – something I’m certain my mom would have loved me to do during time out when I was a kid.
Recently I read a not so flattering analysis of Gen Xers.  Essentially it accused us of being complacent, lazy, uneducated, non-competitive and entitled.  After an exhausting day of entertaining and educating my children (has anyone ever tried to do Girl Scout homework, by the way?), this really irked me.  And it was somewhat timely because that annoying Girl Scout homework was all about stereotypes and unfair presumptions we make about others.  Have you ever tried, to explain to a 9 year old what a stereotype is?! 
Mike and the Mechanics sang in their song “In the Living Years” – Every generation, blames the one before . . .Many of us blame those who went before us for the circumstances we now find ourselves in, but, as the analysis I just mentioned points out, often we unfairly criticize a generation that we helped shape.  Over the last 8 months I have done a lot of thinking about the impact that stereotypes and presumptions have on our expectations of ourselves as moms and also how those who have preceded us have shaped where we are today.
So here’s what I learned about stereotypes and how each generation is shaped by those that go before them:
1)      All of us mothers look at our friends who are serving roles different than ours (i.e. stay at home moms look at working moms and vice versa) and ask “how does she do it?”  Having lived on both sides of this coin now, I figured out how . . . by taking one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, and taking a lot of valium.  The truth is, none of us knows how we do any of the things we do.  We all are simply doing the best we can with the circumstances we are given, while also trying to find some personal fulfillment along the way and crossing our fingers that we don’t screw up our kids too badly (even though our children will all say that we are responsible for all the therapy they need later in life).

2)      The good, bad and ugly of every generation creates the circumstances for the traits of the succeeding generation.  We are a product of lessons learned, and also repeat mistakes of generations before us.  As they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Here’s what I see in the successive generations I’m familiar with . . . The Greatest Generation’s compliance and frugality led to the Boomers rebelliousness and fun loving nature led to Gen Xer’s empowerment and free spiritedness.  I’ll stop at Gen X for fear that I might unfairly judge or criticize the Millenials.  J  The most incredible friends and mentors that I have are Baby Boomers.  Not just because they are older and ok, I guess I can admit wiser, but because Boomers, and particularly women, are empowering, engaging, inclusive and funny (usually because they have consumed a lot of wine).
3)      With the tenacity and courage of our Boomer moms, Gen X moms would not be one of the most educated stay at home mom and self employed mom generations ever seen.  Our mothers paved the way for us to pursue higher education at an unprecedented rate, and when we became mothers and decided to stay at home rather than pursue a career path, we couldn’t sit still for that long.  The explosion of home based businesses is because we are trying to have it all – a family AND a career, but because of our empowerment, we don’t want to work for anyone (except maybe our kids), and would rather own our own businesses.  And yes, this is our mom’s “fault”.  I’m hoping that rather than disappointment, they look on their daughter’s generation with pride.
Well, enough of my pontificating, Ego is waiting for me to go to the park to play Frisbee so that I have some material for tomorrow’s post.  Oh, and before I go, here’s Superego’s quote from yesterday that she decided to blurt out while I was in the car talking to a fellow volunteer for the Poway Patriotic Parade that I’m chairing – she says “mom, you’re discombobulated!”  If she only knew just how much!!!!!!!  J

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