And no, I don’t mean the thigh one! To each their own, but I adore the fact that my thighs love each other enough to constantly support one another. It is self love people, self. love! Except in the hottest months, then it can be like spontaneous combustion by friction… I am just saying! Get a gal a fan!
But enough of the thigh talk…. the gap.
There is a very distinct difference between the generations before mine and my own. It is a wonder the gap is not even greater, given the total change in the world, the evolution of societal norms, and even the dynamic and understanding between humans with our immense and immediate social/cyber connection. Not to say we don’t have a tremendous way to go, to be better humans, but we certainly have grown from where we were 100 years ago.
Now for sure, everyone and their respective families are different, but if you look at just women for example and the significant generational differences, you will see a glimpse of just some of the struggles, and the overcoming as well. As I usually do, I will disclaimer here, I am writing from my perspective, in my little bubble in North America. Not better or worse, just what I know personally.
My grandmother was born in 1906, she lived through the depression and racial segregation (in the south no less). She had 13 children, (YES! 13!!!) and they all shared the responsibilities of household duties and livelihood… and were staunchly catholic. Although there are secrets in every family history, for the most part, everyone followed the Book; married before kids, husband worked, wife raised the babies, divorce was wildly frowned upon, everyone went to church at least on Sunday’s, and family business, was just that, to be kept in the family.
Fast forward to my life, I married a man who was not “white” when I was already pregnant. I have one son that I have been a single mother to since he was a toddler, I was divorced faster than the engagement lasted, I pay for our entire life, by myself, and I don’t go to church.
::Here is where my grandmother would have certainly said a prayer followed by the sign of the cross on my behalf.::
Also, I write my life and experiences, out here in the online world, for anyone who wants to read… gasp! The truth is, I have become an open book since my abusive relationship. Too many secrets almost left me for dead, so I shed that custom and it was one of the best losses yet!
Between my grandmother and myself, there is very few commonalities in life. The way of life was/is wholly different. In some ways better, and in some ways not. But the changes that came over the course of my mothers life, bridging the gap between my grandmother and I, helps me understand how difficult it actually was to raise my generation. The world around them constantly changing, dropping stagnant tradition, learning and applying acceptance rather than hate, being supportive rather than condemning. Technology, growth, seeing beyond their front porch… just to name a few things. All good, mostly, but difficult for them to accept and adapt to, for sure.
One major change was the shift in the family dynamic. There was a tight grip on the “traditional” home, and they watched the demise of the white picket fence and 2.5 children. With women who refused to settle (thank the lawd) and realized they did in fact deserve better, there was a wave of shock as women opted out of the facade. There was no more one man, one woman and children, and we, more recently have finally opened to the beauty of all types of loving homes. Straight, gay, single, married, grandparents, step-parents, relatives, all raising children, or opting not to if they don’t see fit. It is no surprise that the ancient idea of “it takes a village” is reigning true. I for one, being a single mama, often call on friends and family for help. On the flip side, the reasons for marriage and procreating to extend one’s name and bloodline are long gone, it is no longer any one family’s responsibility to continue Earth’s population, so guess what y’all… you don’t need to have kids if you don’t want to! Lord knows there are enough of us killing this planet already. Changing of the tides.
Another great revolution reflects on that idea. Giving women the right to choose for themselves, whether they wanted kids, and what was right for their bodies. For the first time in history, besides being a nun or physically unable, a woman could decide to take birth control, decide on what she wanted or did not want, on her own timeline. I remember wanting birth control at a young age, fifteen-sixteen-ish, and of course my parents being brought up in that time, and in the specific religion, sex was a NO! until you were married. The idea was that if we were extended the birth control, the pills of a fornicating Satan if you will, that it was condoning the act itself. Of course, at that point, sex was already happening at a younger and younger age, with or without the contraception. And so as young-think-for-yourself-women, we found ways to get what we wanted, including birth control, not to get away with having sex, but dictating what would happen (or not) if we chose to. Breaking the chains.
The release of the “dream family” set up, and women learning they could decide what they wanted for themselves, also opened the way for work place equality. Some women worked because they had to, and some because they wanted to. Dropping the apron for the cap and gown, ditching the burp cloth for business suit, and seeking areas that were never deemed “appropriate” for a woman. Some did, and still do all of the above, juggling family and career.
Now again, there is still areas of inequality in this world, on all topics, but going from a life of “you can’t” to the “world of career doors being opened” was a wild and usually exciting notion. And for a young woman, I was hell bent on making my way.
I also, personally decided to repel all things racial (aka racist), which landed me in super hot water with previous generations, a time or two. But, I didn’t see color. I was an equal opportunity friend and dater. I also had no idea that that was why people stared. I assumed it was just because we looked that good! Imagine my surprise when just 20 years ago, people were condemning my choice to date someone with a slightly different pigment than my own. Really?! Even today, the racial divide is thicker than it should be, it is sad, but I do have hope in the future.
Freedom from oppression, choosing for ourselves, earning our own damn keep. Just a few of the vast differences that left my parents in a pickle.
Liberation began growing faster and louder!
Of course with any change comes resistance. So while my mother was still raised in a world of expectation and obligation, family tradition and rules, she was now raising a daughter in a very different world. One where everything is out, and talked about, and growing, and exploding, and there is choice, and rights, and acceptance. It would have handicapped those with even the most wonderful of intentions, and the best types of upbringings.
I imagine giving me wings, but then not wanting me to fly out of the family scope of acceptance was challenging, to say the least. From growing up in a kids are “seen and not heard” world, to having a child that grew in to a woman with one helluva noisy voice, was certainly an adjustment. I am grateful to have had enough gumption to say my peace, and fly anyway. I was the outspoken, and feisty California girl that lived out loud, much to the disdain of my new Southern Virginia friends parents and teachers. And with the exception of some severely controlled years of my life, I am still, and always will be her.
Race, sexual orientation and preference, gender, religious, and all other classifications of equality are still in progress today, and in some cases still have a VERY long way to go, but the times have been favorable, for the most part, towards the evolution of acceptance. I understand that the breaking of those previous strong holds was a painful one to many. And while it caused a tidal wave into this future we are in now, it was all so necessary and definitely in the right direction. I cannot imagine so drastic of a shift happening again, with the exception of one of the horror movies happening. Purge life might create a shift… stay in your lanes people!
The point of all of this is that it helps to understand how things have changed, but also for the generations before, the acceptance of our families and how things were, even if they were wrong. We do not have to accept their ills, but it is important to understand their why. The beauty is, as adults, we can break free from anything that is negative and holding us back. We must.
As I reflect on my grandma, and my mom, and many of the women who shaped me while living in very different times, I realize exactly where my feisty side comes from. Don’t let me fool you on them. Their foundation is where my sassy, independent, strong self was put in to production. Growing, propelling, advancing is an inside job.
Some generational funnies…
And one that describes me to a T…