Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Woefully Unprepared for Adulthood

I sometimes wonder if the reason my generation (by which I mean people I know in their late 20's and their 30's -- are we gen X? Or are we in one of those no-mans lands of generational mish-mash? Not sure) has such a high rate of depression and general frustration with life is just because we were not well prepared to become adults.
First, let me explain to you what I mean by adulthood. I am now in that stage of my life where I have to do a lot of routine, mundane things. I have to wake up with my children at 6 am. I have to sweep the floor about a hundred times a day. I have to remind my 3 year old to go to the bathroom, take his shoes off at the door and wear his hat about a thousand times a day. I have to remove my one year old from the kitchen table about a million times a day. Every night I must pick up the days detrius -- toy cars, cast off socks, and tiny O-shaped cereal. Every morning I know that I will be arguing with my son about his juice intake. Every single morning at about 9 am after he finished his second cup of juice for the day (and thus fulfills his juice quota). If I want to maintain good health at my age I need to eat right, excersise and get to bed at a decent hour. I have to accept and enjoy the small things in life, and fit in fun time in the small corners of my day and week. I have to let go of some of my dreams, for now, for the sake of my small children and my sanity. All these things are what I need to do for my life to run smoothly and my household to prosper and flourish.
But this has little relation to the things I was told and taught in my education or entertainment as a child and teenager. I was taught that I could do anything I wanted to. I was told I would be one of the first generations of women who could work and have children and have no apron strings attatched. I was given interesting projects and entertaining videos to help me learn, rather than doing rote memorization and practice assignments. I was innundated with television and movies -- where there was novelty all the time. The images I saw of women were young, glamourous, fun loving. They never had to clean floors and fold laundry. They spent all their time dancing with princes in glass slippers. If they were mothers they were either desperate single moms or overly conrolling Stepford wives. I was taught that I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to, that I had rights, and that I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.
Very little in my early experience (especially since I was the very much youngest of five) taught me responsibility, duty, and the necessity of giving up my individual rights to benefit the collective. Very little told me that maybe I wouldn't be a rock star or a star lawyer -- maybe I would just be a mechanic or a housewife. Nothing at all told me that it is not only noble but actually quite satisfying to do the tasks that are set before you to the best of your ability and to be content with the limitations of the time and place in your life where you find yourself.

Yet that is what I am finding to be true about motherhood. It is a completely unglamourous pursuit. I am lucky to get in a shower or get more than lip gloss on. I spend a lot of time down on the (stained) carpet playing with or picking up metal cars, wooden blocks and puzzle pieces. I spend most of my evenings just getting ready for the next day and then maybe, if the boys went to bed early enough, squeezing in a little sewing,a little blogging, a little reading. But I am finding that if I accept that this is where I am right now (and not where I will get stuck forever), and make the best of every moment, then I am content. I can allow myself to be transformed into this new creature: an adult woman. A mother.


Kristen said...

Officially, we are the XY generation...yes we fit in on the turn, not quite X, not quite Y...Wikipedia used to have a decent article about it (which has since been mostly deleted for some unknown reason. We are also known as the MTV generation. I discovered this last summer while preparing a sermon titled, why people my age don't go to church (and secretively sub-titled...and they never will go to your dull old boring traditional dark building, unless you are ready to make some radical changes which you aren't, so stop complaining to me about it)...I'll email you my notes because I think you'll get it too...secretly longing to be an Xer, but knowing that wasn't quite right...we're like the beatniks were, only the next mixed up crew :o)

Jilly said...

Like beatniks, eh? Hip, man (snap, snap, snap). Does that give me license to wear a beret?

Actually, on an interesting (an slightly related note), Buck 65, a Canadian spoken word/rap artist who is our age, just finished a whole album about the year 1957 and the beatniks. Coincidence? I think not. Thanks for the interesting info, Kris.