I upset my mom a while ago, indirectly, that is. She shared with me her sadness regarding my last post, I am. I’m guessing here, but I’m sure it wasn’t just that one post, but a combination of all my honest public disclosures to date that are shared via blog – and that last confession into my fucked up and dark thoughts was just the push over the edge. Sorry mom.
Since the conversation, I’ve been reflecting on what we discussed, quite a bit actually. Of that exchange, which was visited by tears and gloominess, one thing (among other “things”) stood out to me. Generational differences. My parents are Baby Boomers and I am Gen X.
Now, there are obvious and stark differences in both our upbringings and the times themselves, so, it makes sense that those disparities will play a role in not just how we communicate but our view of the world. Which, of course, complicates things at times.
we’ve failed you
This leads me to the beginning of our convo. My mom commented that her and my dad must have somehow failed in raising me due to my sparse self-distorted views and unhappiness. I do understand my mom’s perspective (to a point), I really do, but I was also a bit befuddled…
FYI: I am 44 years old and haven’t lived at home since I was 19 – wanted to give some perspective.
Anyway, I thought that viewpoint and the fact that my mom was still holding so much parental responsibility at this point in my life a bit discouraging. Then I pondered about whether or not this undue obligatory rearing is more aligned to generational differences or is it just generational? You know, carrying around the affliction of accepting partial to full responsibility for our adult children’s ineptitude from generation to generation – raising OUR kids till OUR last breath conceptualization. And, I suppose on the other side, you would then accept partial to full responsibility for your adult children’s successes as well, right? Boy, one of those theories is super egotistical and the other is quite saint-like.
Doesn’t that seem like a pretty burdensome practice when you really think about it? Sure, you’re going to parent your kids regardless of their age in some sense of the word, but trying to then carry their adulting load as your own on top of your own adulting load is insane and would have to be pretty exhausting.
And let’s be honest – doesn’t it make sense that we’re going to inadvertently tarnish our kids on some level? Absolutely. Simply by the daily flying by the seat of our parenting pants and having no clear idea about what the hell we are even doing. But this doesn’t mean we have to bear the burden for eternity of these unintended blemishes.
With me, I know I’ve played a heavy role in my children’s idiosyncrasies – yes, idiosyncrasies and I’m sticking to it. However, I don’t feel I assume as much responsibility with how my 21-year-old daughter is or is not functioning in life as I feel my mom does with me (and my brother). Maybe she feels carrying that weight will lessen my load. Whatever it is, it boils down to this… it’s my weight to carry now – I’ll keep unloading the futile baggage along the way, as well as gain strength for the weight that is worth bearing.
Furthermore… I want to clear up any mucky area here – a friendly reminder to my parents. I don’t blame them (or anyone) for who I am today. In fact, I honor the role they (and others) have played in how I’ve “turned out” or should say “turning out” both good and bad. But, there is no blame to be had or any reason for my parents to still feel a sense of responsibility for MY adult choices. Are some of my flaws (and strengths) born from my childhood’s rearing? Yes. And do I have some culpability when it comes to my oldest daughter’s weaknesses and strengths? Of course. But at this point in my life (and hers), it is what it is.
So, what do you do?
Well, you just do… and to the best of your ability.
forgive yourself (and them)
You take it day by day, accept and embrace the dysfunctional parts of your past as tools for life’s arsenal and you keep on keeping on. You learn. You grow. You evolve. Steeping that blame and drinking a cup of all the reasons why you have some shitty flaws born from your childhood tea is a total time suck and will wear on your soul. Stop obsessing over the whys (you know why) and focus in on healing. After all, you can’t hop in your DeLorean and change anything from the past, and you certainly can’t change your parent’s parenting. You can, however, change your parenting.
You could also forgive yourself for carrying the baggage around for all those years, for zigzagging in and out of denial and naivete, perpetuating the defectiveness that brilliantly shines on your life choices yet dims your own self-worth.
You could forgive your parents. They did the best they knew how, and they too were jacked up from their maladjusted cultivation. Hell, I remember my grandfather calling me a whore when I was about 19. If he could speak that way to his own granddaughter, could you imagine what he said to his own children, my father, my aunt?! Could you imagine what was said to him and his siblings?! I could.
Let me clarify… this is not to say that you should turn a blind eye to your wounds, or your child’s – not at all. Put in the good fight and work on healing those emotional bruises, dings and lacerations. Because that emotional trauma deserves love and attention and shouldn’t be ignored due to misdirected attention to all the whys and the how comes and replaying the blame game over and over.
This leads me to my next generational ideology, or should I say rhetorical question, “What problem”?
don’t answer that
So, as the talk continued, I asked my mom if she has ever felt the way I’ve wrote about. She hesitantly said yes, or sure, or something like that, at least that is what I remember. However, I could sense the uneasiness when she answered, which was understandable. She grew up in a time where you don’t talk about your problems so openly, especially exposing such raw emotions like I do, and so publicly like I am doing. You put on the brave face mask and hide behind the fraudulence of ‘it’s all good’.
Make sure that everything on the outside looks good and keep all the dirty parts hidden away – swept under the rug. Create the picture-perfect facade, even though it is more like a flawed abstract art piece, which is beautiful by the way. Honestly, I understand it – you certainly don’t run around flaunting familial dirt, but you also don’t want to stuff it away with no discussion to be had. Because the real is… everybody knows your dirt, they’re not talking about it either – it’s one big what problems party.
So why stuff it away? Well, you don’t. That crap will come back to haunt you at some point and the longer it’s jam-packed and smothered with negligence, the more sovereignty you will give it and certainly not in a liberating light.
Then there are the current generational times – we have social media and other digital tools and platforms to disseminate information to the masses, and nothing seems to be off the table when it comes to problem sharing. From the lightness of that selfish asshole who cut you off in the grocery line at Whole Foods to the darkest exposure of how you caught your husband in a threesome with two other men. It’s excess consumption of problem oversharing, which is completely polar opposite of our earlier generations.
So keep in mind…
There’s something to be said about privacy and not airing your dirty laundry so publicly. Facebook is not the place people. Privacy should be honored like our Baby Boomers and their predecessors did, but not addressing an issue or problem solely in the vein of privacy is where the potential manifestation of ill behavior begins. Then, take 99 problems later and you have an overcrowded bag of neurosis, which gets heavier and heavier to carry as the years go on. Unpack that shit. One maladjusted issue at a time, and then allow the weightlessness an opportunity to propel a healthier journey in life.
Allow yourself to practice privacy while simultaneously releasing yourself from pains of your generational past. Talk privately to friends and family that you trust, especially with siblings or family members who may have shared in the dysfunction. Share your discourse in confidence with a therapist or paid professional or manifest your own personal dissertation by way of a journal and then post it on the heather diaries. 😉
Whatever you do, don’t trap it inside. Take your peculiarities and allow them space to breathe. Cherish all the imperfections – it’s both what makes you so great, and what makes those generational differences so enlightening.
the thing is
Life is crazy hard (duh, Captain Obvious), and we all do our very best to bob and weave all of the problems that fly at us. But of those problems, let’s not hold on to the past ones stemming from our generational differences, or lack of parental nurturing and undeniable parenting ineptness.
In fact, and most importantly, don’t repeat it with your successors or with yourself. Lessen those burdens and shine a light on (and reform) the defective behaviors you’ve chosen to reproduce and bask in those generational differences that shaped your greatest self.
Personally, my blemished generational revivals are a work in progress alongside my recognition (and restoration) to my children that I have and am aiding in their chaotic and disarranged life. Oops! And, I’m okay with that undertaking and that awareness. Hell, what else am I going to do? Well, I could think of other things, but in the meantime…
I’ll just roll with it as best as I can and ruminate in gratitude for how I was raised. I am proud of my upbringing. I am proud of my family. I am proud of me.
I would like to dedicate this piece to my parents, who on October 18th celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you for always accepting me and for being amazing examples of how to be a good human – you’re my forever beacon of light in this dark yet beautiful world. ❤️