I remember, as a teenager, thinking that I never wanted to be the kind of “grown-up” that my parents exampled for me. Take away the extra issues —the alcoholism, being a step child at a time when step-children were rare commodities — and there was still the general feeling that belonging to my parents’ generation meant being out-of-touch, disinterested in the world and frozen in time as far as personal growth and learning. No, I was never going to be that kind of adult. And if it meant never getting married and never having children (because having children may have sapped the life out of them), then so be it. Not for me. I was going to stay vibrant, connected and relevant, damn it.
The attitude seems naïve and unrealistic to me today, and hypercritical of the lifestyle of the generation that raised me and my fellow 1973 high school graduates. My three grown children might be surprised to know that once I swore to never have any. On the other hand, maybe that would help them understand my intense “I won’t be THAT kind of mother” attitude – fiercely resisting becoming out-of-touch, disinterested in the world or frozen in time. Not me, damn it.
There is talk today of the media having too much influence on the shape of opinions, however, back then, the constant talk about the “generation gap” and the “silent majority” did its part to effect the thinking of the populace. The Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the Watergate debacle that led to the resignation of Nixon — all this contributed greatly to the attitude that we were going to do things differently. No child of ours would be spanked, no son or daughter of ours would be sent off to fight in a senseless war, women would get equal pay for equal work, and racial issues would disappear. Now, I look and see that the Baby Boomers didn’t solve all country’s problems. In some arenas, we have made things worse. The world is still full of wars, equality is still an unfulfilled goal and helicopter parenting had created an Entitlement generation that some say deserves a spanking. In the almost 60 years since my birth, the world has spun faster than it ever has, flinging scientific discoveries, electronic gadgets and breathtaking current events at us faster than we can understand them; but understand them we must, because despite competing with the generations behind us who were born into this maelstrom, we are not going to be out of touch, disinterested in the world or frozen in time. Not us, damn it.
But now, the countdown is on. There is nowhere to hide from this reality as it bears down on me like a freight train. And true to my Baby Boomer heritage, I am going to over-analyze it, pontificate about it, and enumerate the reasons that it isn’t going to get me. I am going to laugh and cry in its face, deny its existence until the last possible moment, until at last I learn to embrace the passage of time and my own mortality.