I’m part of a generation (X) that has generally done less well than its parents. Even given comparable jobs, we haven’t gone as far above them as they did theirs, and in many cases ventured below with respect to income, status, and life outlook. As recorded in many places, including my diaries and the song Things I Don’t Remember, growing up in the 70s had a free and easy quality, but was also challenging for children who would like to be the central element of a stable society. We learned to have fun and keep wanting it.
I started this business during the early onset of middle age, which has been marked by my preoccupation with time. So far it’s been the longest rollercoaster you’ve never noticed. It is hard not to be struck how in my self-included cohort, progressively unattractive women become increasingly sharp and demanding. As young women, we left the measure of our value to chance while hedging with effort. We gave most of ourselves away and now we want some back. This is inelegant math. You ultimately get what you are given, but sometimes it feels like what you take.
I have literally said to my sons, you owe me your life and I want it paid both forever and minute by minute, only vaguely remembering my reaction to my mother’s same message: Are you kidding? She gave me life but it was mine. Now, at this half circle in my life epic, I want not just the parts of me that were taken but a decent chunk of my children. I consider it payment due.
My children are growing and my parents are dying at different rates. And those of us in the current coincidence of middle age and GenX are so slow. We have the leisure to perceive our mistakes. We thought we understood the game well enough to play if not win. In constant contrast to our parents who moved easily through times that changed, and our unbelievably quick children, we are stuck, not just in the middle again, but concretely. We took our parents’ examples too seriously and are considered especially retarded by our children. Not just with phones and computers, but because when we were little we could say retarded. We just didn’t know that would be us.