As a Millennial Mom...

Being a millennial mom is a "special" experience... and I don't mean "special" in terms of what my generation of kids was told about ourselves, I mean "special" as in fucking paradoxical and weird.  I am almost 35 years old, and yet, there are times when the world treats me like I am an entitled thumbsucker, and it's.... frustrating. I know that I am not the only one in my generation that feels this way.

I am not entirely certain how my generation became the world's punching bag, but somehow, the people who raised us feel the constant need to shout about how we won't grow up, while literally saying we are idealist and unrealistic when we try to fix the shit they fucked up.

What's wrong, boomers? You don't the harvest from your crotch fruit crop? 

Now, of course, I don't mean to over-generalize the boomers and other generally older (mostly white) people who keep bashing my generation as the "most entitled generation ever," because I know (I KNOW) there are lots of great human adults who know millennials have the potential to change the world. I guess.

As a millennial mom, there are SO many things that I have to worry about that my parents' generation cannot fathom. I am tasked with navigating the perils of parenting in the digital age where we don't just compete with the people in our proximity, but you know, globally we gotta stay on our toes. NBD. So, here's a tidy little list of a *few things* we have to worry about as millennial parents that didn't exist in our parent's worlds. Not to be entitled about it, or whatever.

The environment 
Driving a car. Eating palm oil (which, by the way, kills orangutans and the rain forests.) Beach erosion--is it a thing and should we be replenishing beaches? Will my house be beach front in a few years thanks to sea level rise? Will it swallow us whole? Thank god my kid is a good swimmer...But there is goddamn flesh eating bacteria in the water because it's too damn hot. Mass extinctions.  And IS recycling a sham now that China won't buy our trash? Why haven't we figured that out, already?

Why the actual fuck are we fighting over whether or not to make a switch to green energy? It could create so many jobs. And don't even get me started on corporate greed. And jobs. Anything bad about the world today can basically be traced back to the fact that for compounding generations, we treated the world like our personal candy bucket. We gorged on the candy and piled up the wrappers. But god forbid we stress over having a planet to live on or anything.

Can I go to the grocery store and shop or should I order online? What causes more carbon emissions? What do I even have time for?  Is it okay for me to buy chicken nuggets or do they have to be organic, and gluten free? Cow's milk is disgusting and I don't want my daughter having it... but then I watched that documentary about how the dairy industry is tanking, and that poor family in Pennsylvania! I feel bad now. Can we eat anything that comes in a box? Too processed? Everyone is so judgy these days about the quality of our lettuce. Not to mention food recalls. Fuck it. I should grow this shit myself because that's the only way to know if it's really good... however, soil depletion. So how do I fix that because what is the point of eating healthy if the food doesn't really contain nutrients... mushroom compost?

Social media
If you're happy and you know it, post online! Actually, just post online and pretend to be happy because we don't want to see your sorry ass sack of shit complaints. Like, you know, about the environment. Also, if you didn't check in somewhere, did it even happen? But also, if you disappear from social media, no one will notice. How depressing--kind of the like the entire experience of being online sometimes. And yet, CAT VIDEOS! But also... MOMO! (Seriously, that bitch was terrifying.) Paradoxically, media isn't social. And we're curating ourselves into these weird images that are soooo reductive. And we are constantly being told to "go outside and have some human interaction" which is hard, since the whole world is on fire. Or flooded. AND, seriously, people on the internet are so mean while simultaneously being offended by everything. Barf.

For. The. Love.

Did I choose the right school? IEP meetings... don't even get me started. I hope she's up to par, educationally... but honestly, shouldn't she just be playing outside at her age? Social skills are way more important. Unless she's falling behind. Should we opt out of standardized tests? Teachers are so overworked. We haven't saved a dime for college... what's the current cost of a year of college? Should we point her toward a trade instead? Is coding a trade?  She should definitely explore coding since the whole world is going digital and there is a huge bias in coding. They need more women in coding, especially once we live in the matrix. We don't need a virtual world controlled by men, we already screwed that up IRL. Maybe I'll think about this more once we get past Kindergarten, we have time, right?

And for some dumb reason, we can't protect them from gun violence and those lockdown drills are normal, so shaddup about it. It's not traumatizing. 

Too Much Parenting Info 
Access to information. YAY. Sort of. I mean, there are so many schools of thought on how you should parent your kid that you cannot do anything right. Give them chores. Don't give them chores. If your kid is an asshole, it's your fault. We should simultaneously teach them to stand up to bullies but never condone violence. Give them hugs, but not too many. Let them play outside, but only under strict supervision or your neighbor might call the cops because YOUR KIDS WERE ALONE! Tell them not to do drugs, but then give them drugs to calm them down in school. Make them aware of strangers (even though they are legit more likely to be victimized by someone they already know) and DO NOT SHAME THEM. Do not yell. Be a saint. You chose parenting, so be happy because not everyone can have kids. You're basically never allowed to complain-- especially if you are a stay at home mom because: what a gift you privileged jerk!

And if you work outside the home, congrats, you are setting the best example, but obviously, when you get home, you need to do all the things the stay at home mom does because you don't, you'll never prove your love. Oh, and breastfeed right after you have a natural birth without screaming a peep because MOTHERHOOD IS BEAUTIFUL, dammit!

We are a depressed, anxious mess of a generation because--DUH!-- see above. And yet, we are creative, innovative, and increasingly focused on self care and stigma breaking. But somehow all of this translates into us being whinny and wanting too many "safe spaces." Yeah, no. I don't buy that.

We are the generation who was in high school and elementary school when 9/11 happened. We've lived under a cloud of perpetual war, increased political division, the complete and utter breakdown of the college system, and an increasingly digital world that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. And our parents told us if we just work hard, we'll be rewarded because that was their experience. But that is not what what it's all about these days.

We have to teach our kids a whole different thing which we are currently trying to navigate without any kind of road map. So yeah, enter yoga, acupuncture, meditation, smudging, rain dancing, and whatever else might give us a snowball's chance in hell to break through the noise and just be OKAY. And all of this is to say that Millennials have a lot on their plates. Most can't afford homes, and are struggling to find or switch careers. It's a jungle out there... well, er, it's a rapidly depleting jungle with mass extinction, but you get the idea.

We are basically a bridge generation between the age of the internet and all that came before. As an elder millennial, born in 1985, I grew up without CGI, without the Internet, but I was on the cutting edge of the glory days of dial up. I remember when you couldn't talk on the telephone during a thunderstorm because you might get electrocuted, AND playing in the streets of a neighborhood without the fear that some nosey neighbor would call CPS. In the short 30-something years I've been alive, we've experienced huge technological leaps that have redefined the world, globalized markets, and changed our everyday lives. So stop giving us a bunch of shit and give us a little more credit. Being a millennial is like walking a tightrope, and we are legit doing our best, all while trying to raise kids who hopefully aren't assholes in a world that will hopefully still be here when they come of age.

**And I know I missed some things in my list, so fellow millennials, please add to the list below in the comments section! 

The Happy Bits

I am currently sitting in my brand new office, in my new home, on a blissfully rainy Sunday evening. For two years, my husband and I envisioned and dreamed and from those musings, built a home with the help of a ton of people. From two visions, we carved a solitary, concrete reality and now, I'm sitting in it wearing my oversized, mid-drift length sweater, high wasted jeans, and uggs. Somehow, my clothing seemed an important sidetone because... I feel amazing in these clothes and this house.

I feel amazing when I wake up, and when I go to bed. Of course not every moment of every day, but overwhelmingly, this how I generally feel.

The thing is, it's hard to characterize and articulate the happy bits. It can be hard to put a finger on or admit to the moments where we just feel... happy. For me, it's probably some deeply ingrained sense of Italian-American guilt that nags at the senses and screams "NO! Don't admit it... there will be impending doom if you admit to the utter contentment you are experiencing!"

But you know what? There will be impending doom, either way. So fuck it.

I'm happy!!

I am standing a world of my own creation and, you guys, it's gorgeous! But I'm not here to brag or even humble brag about the great things that are coming into my life because... yuck. No. What I really want to implore you to do is to admit your own happiness. Or at the least, admit to yourself that you may not be as comfortable being happy as you think you are.

The truth is, I often opt for wrapping myself in sarcasm, apologies, or down playing the good things in my life so that I don't seem full of myself. Or, I do it so that someone else in a less than desirable situation will feel less bad, but is that even how any of this works?

I am a huge fan of Brene Brown, and she talks about how comparative suffering is not a thing. All suffering is important and relative. What if the same thing were true about happiness? The same way we try to equate suffering as relative is, well, relative when it comes to the way we share our joy. And we read about this stuff every day... some dumb meme on FaceBook will tell us "Don't dull your sparkle," but then you run into Karen at the grocery store and you totally dull your sparkle when she asks how you are. You say, "Um, yeah, you know, good.. I guess." Because why? Because it's somehow NOT okay to say, "I am so happy! I'm in a great place!" It's unacceptable in the same way that when someone asks you how you are, and you're feeling like shit, you shrug and say, "I'm great, thanks."

What IS that?! Is this symptomatic of our society? Could it be possible that we are now becoming uncomfortable with being unhappy AND happy while paradoxically presenting ourselves on social media as living our best lives 110% of the time? Jesus Christ... what is humanity coming to?

The happy bits are so important, and I was reminded of this today when I told my friend Susan, "I wish I could bottle this moment and open it at some point in the future when, inevitably, there will be a less happy moment." And she suggested writing about it... and I was like, "but that is so hard." And suddenly, Elizabeth Gilbert was ringing in my ears saying "NO, BILLIE! You are so wrong... art is NOT about suffering." Art is not about suffering, Liz Gilbert, and you know what? Neither is life.

So here we are at the intersection of blog-post-as-art-medium and a happy moment. Probably this is the closest I can get to bottling a feeling--using my words to create a memory and send out a call to you, Dear Reader, who will perhaps come away from this feeling empowered to embrace the joyful places within yourself.

The overarching concepts that strike me in this moment are two fold. The first is how very much I love the people in my life, and all the strangers who have come together in various capacities to help build my happiness. Think about it... in any given moment where we are happy, where we have joy, there are thousands of tiny things that have built up to that moment. Tangible or intangible, we are a tangled web of moments strung together. There is no better metaphor than our new house...

In my new home, how many hands touched these walls? From the foundation to the windows, to the painters, the tradesmen, the salesmen, the bankers, and more... maybe hundreds of people in all.  These people were basically strangers to me, many of them doing their jobs, but usually going above and beyond to be sure that everything was just so.

And then there are the people  who helped me--physically and mentally--to move my life. My friends and family who showed up on moving day, gloves on, and hearts full. My friends who ASSURED me that moving was the right choice. My friend, who donated his architecture skills and literally designed my dream home. The people who tolerated me at my worst while I was building, and told me I was great, when in fact, I was not great to be around.

This thought of all the things that came together to foster my dream, overwhelms me and makes me so grateful. This is life. It is an overwhelming orchestra of people playing a multitude of instruments to make one unified, beautiful sound. THINK about that awesomeness... doesn't that just fill you with joy?

The second thing is how you have to grab these moments with both hands and sit in it, like a meditation. I remember the last time I felt like this. It was after I got married. I felt so top-full with joy that I could barely speak. It was like there was nothing left to say. I felt like I had it all. So what does one DO with that feeling? First of all, celebrate the living fuck out of that feeling. Second of all, radiate that shit.

Radiate. Don't dull the sparkle.

Celebrate this by taking time for others (and yourself). Be happy, and spread like wildfire. If someone else is feeling down, shoulder it. You're happy, you can afford to. Cook for someone. Invite people into your orbit of joy. Check in with others. Write cards of thanks. Tell people positive things about themselves. Pay for someone's coffee. (Or tank of gas if you have more money than me.) Be a goddamn lighthouse and let them come to you and then share your smile.

And above all, please, don't be afraid to admit that you are in a moment of feeling terrific. The world needs us to share our happy bits because it is how we share the best parts of ourselves and shine light in the dark places. I wish you many, many happy moments, but more than that, I wish you the satisfaction of recognizing those moments and fully enjoying them. You deserve to be thrilled with life on several occasions.

Embrace the happy bits, my friends. <3