A Better Generation or the Good Old Days?

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I was talking to a friend of mine the other night while online and she had never seen the last episode of Roseanne, in which we as viewers learn, in essence, that everything we had been viewing for all those years was not really the story, but rather a book Roseanne had been writing, and while based in her life, it was not, in fact, historically accurate as to how things happened.

Writers do that, you know. We take the things in our life, aspects of our experiences, and we put that into our words. Sometimes I write things the way they should have been, the way I wanted them to be, and other times I take my worst nightmares and extend them out to make my writing be that which happened.

In the end, it’s all fiction.Anyway, on this last episode, Roseanne said in her monologue that she and Dan and promised to make their kids lives at least 50% better than their own.

Don’t all parents want more for their kids than they had themselves?

Well, all good parents do anyway.

But then I read a report today that says that my generation was the first generation in decades not to surpass their parents. I’m not quite a baby boomer, I miss it by a year or two I think, and I’m sure not a generation Xer… I fit in that in between place where I really belong to neither generation.

But the report did get me to thinking…

Both of my parents have college degrees, and in fact, both of them went on to get advanced degrees. Both of them work in professional careers. Both of them have been self employed, and both of them now have nice homes, savings, nice cars, money, fine clothes, jewelry, investments, etc.

I never wanted for anything growing up… at least, not financially.

And so the report I read was right: I haven’t surpassed my baby booming parents. My parents are in their 60s. I am in my early 40s. By the time my parents were my age, they had more things, more security, owned more property, had more in the bank and their financial outlook was much greater than mine alone is. (RT was a lot smarter about money than I was…LOL)

However….

I grew up in the back room of fast food restaurants my parents owned. I took baths in the three compartment sinks where the dishes were washed and was put to sleep on a sleeper sofa at bedtime only to be woke up and carried to my bed when the restaurant closed and it was time to go home.

I ate on the top of a deep freeze freezer by sitting on a stool in the back room of those businesses, by myself most of the time, with my sister other times. Sure, I was involved in a few things, like band, Girl Scouts, softball. My parents missed my solo in the band, were not there for my induction into cadettes, and missed the awards ceremony when I was named MVP of the all star girls softball team.

I played catcher and first base relief if anyone wants to know.

But they were sure proud of me anyway, weren’t they?

I don’t know if they were or not.

They never really said.

Even now, my mother thinks that my writing ‘hobby’ is weird and that I’m weird for it, and that all my readers who like what I write are weird too. You think I’m joking, don’t you? I’m not. She said those exact words to me. Though I must admit, she’s gotten better recently, and even called me after reading CELESTE to tell me it was ‘kinda neat’. I loved that!

My father on the other hand really doesn’t have a clue what I do for a living. I did give him a copy of one of my print books, an essay creative nonfiction thing, as a Christmas gift like seven years ago. I have no clue whether he’s read it or not, since he hasn’t made mention of it since I gave it to him. According to my sister, his wife told my sister who told me that they thought I was just repacking old books and republishing them. Wha–? Uhm, no. My sister said, “I read the book, Daddy. It’s about stuff that happened in her life…” Well, whatever. I haven’t spoken to my father in several years. Sort of sad, all thing considered. They don’t even seem to know or care about the terminal illness stuff–and both of them are in the medical field, nurses. Yeah. His wife is on Facebook and at one point even had my friended, but now, nothing… my stepmother de-friended me. Isn’t the internet fun!

Back on topic, sort of. So maybe I didn’t amass a fortune on my own. Maybe I didn’t buy up a lot of stuff. Maybe my children and I moved around a bit before we finally found our ‘security’ and a place to call home. Maybe it was someone else who helped make that security stick for me.

But what I can say for certain is this: I was home with my kids every night. We ate and cooked dinner together as a family. When my children went to bed at night, they did so with a hug and a kiss and oftentimes a bedtime story or a song. When they woke in the middle of the night with a nightmare, they did so in their own bed, and I was there to hold them until they went back to sleep. They took baths in real tubs, not sinks. We made rice krispy treats, went trick or treating, and I went to every single last blasted school play, musical, event, whatever. I was THERE, and I was involved. I was freaking super mom.

So maybe I didn’t buy them DVD players and big screen televisions, but when we could scrounge up the money to go to the baseball games in Midland, we’d pack a picnic basket and a blanket and have an entire afternoon having fun together as our little family.

We didn’t have a lot of things. I was lucky to have a decent sized color television in the living room that a friend sold to me cheap, much less to have them have full-sized TVs like I had when I was a kid. We had second-hand furniture, nothing matched, but I kept it neat and clean as possible and decorated as best I could.

We had a home…

Only the last few years have we been able to get the fancy video games and their own phone lines and ‘things’ that cost money.

But… I loved my kids, and I never once let a day go by without telling them how much I did love them. I told them frequently I was proud of them. I attended every single boring and sleep inducing concert or award ceremony or recital they had and I was the one standing and cheering and clapping the loudest.

I was a freaking paying and card carrying member of the freaking PTA for goodness sake!

My children did not walk two miles home by themselves to let themselves in the door and spend the afternoon alone like I did. My children did not take their own baths and put themselves to bed without hugs and kisses goodnight until I could get home from work like I did with my parents.

So I guess when it really comes down to it, one has to wonder exactly what the criteria that report I read used to determine what a BETTER life means.

Also on Roseanne’s last season, there was a quote that stuck with me: “I don’t want the kind of blindness only money can buy.”

I don’t.

So if given the choice between being rich or being happy and loved, I will choose happy and loved any day. Fortunately, here in America, we don’t have to choose one or the other. We can choose to be rich and we can choose to be happy, and we have the freedom to have and pursue both.

Personally, I think I prefer to be wealthy over anything else… and wealth has so much more to it than just having a lot of money in the bank.

And today, I am a very wealthy woman, in so many wonderful and special ways.

For that I am grateful, and even if I lost all the ‘things’ I have right now, I would still be a very wealthy woman.

I guess it’s all how YOU measure wealth.

So what about you, are we raising a better generation, are we a better generation, or should we long for the good old days?

Have a fantastic morning!

Love and stuff,
Michy

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2 comments to A Better Generation or the Good Old Days?

  • Rissa Watkins  says:

    Yes! Great post. I had a similar upbringing. My parents had a restaurant but most of the time we had no food in our house.

    My mom had to miss my high school graduation because the other cook called in sick. I will never forget her sitting on the couch crying when I got home.

    They never went to plays, choir concerts, etc.

    I go to the school every chance I get to be with my son. In fact tomorrow they are walking on a trail and singing Christmas carols and I am trying to figure out a way to go- even though physically walking that far might be too much for me.

    I can’t imagine missing all these moments in his life.

  • secret  says:

    Hi there, I read your blogs on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty, keep it up!

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