As a 30-something-year-old, I can honestly say adulting is hard, and being in the middle class isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I came across an article while researching generations at work, putting myself and others in my age group into this stereotyped notion of lazy Millennials (I’m technically a Xennial), saying we’re incapable of doing what our parents did before us. I was completely offended.
While I may not be functioning at my best, this adulting gig is rough. I was also reminded of the same conversation I have with my mom over and over, as the times literally have changed and there just seems to be more adulting to do.
So, for anyone else in a position to judge and question people in my boat, let me just put a few thoughts out there about what adulting is like “now” vs. “then.”
I ran into a quote recently stating that we expect moms to work as if they don’t have kids, and parent as if they don’t have jobs. Well, this couldn’t ring truer because leaning in can only get you so far, and the amount that’s left to make up for can be quite a gap to fill. So how do we do it? By letting something suffer, or not be done as well as we’d like, or with the weight of mom guilt weighing so heavy.
I have four jobs. Three are contract or limited scope and one is my “real” job – the one that counts. Juggling these many hats, many thought processes, and quite frankly, competing priorities is a challenge. As a family, we have accepted this challenge, including my husband and I working opposite timeframes (me more in the day, he more in the evenings) to avoid the cost of childcare because who wants a second mortgage? Mind you, yes, we could scale back, and yes, we do have his family overseas adding in additional expenses and travel, but maintaining our lifestyle means we work. We work hard and we work a lot but thank goodness for my parents who help us in the middle of all of this!
Raise your hand for each of the following you do: dishes, wash laundry, fold laundry, sort/put away laundry (yes, those three things count as three separate jobs in our house), schedule the doctor appointments, pay the bills, add coupons to your online account and/or order your groceries (I’m the weirdo non-converter that still loves to grocery shop at the store), remember which toys go with which sets (and who it came from for that matter), know what you’re currently out of or soon-to-be in the pantry, etc, etc. The mental load we carry can not be summed up in this brief blog. There are so many things we do with our split responsibilities and keep in mind, there are bills and doctors we have now that simply didn’t exist 30 years ago. My parents didn’t have cell phones, a specialist or counselor for EVERYTHING (seriously – not sure how we survived…), and keeping track of all of the logins and passwords alone is a full-time job.
My mom didn’t work out of the house, so there’s that, too. Yet, my mom didn’t play with me all the time, nor was she expected to. Adulting now comes with the burden of teaching kids everything they need to know before entering preschool as an expectation. There are “screen time rules” now, too (maybe that’s ok, as I’m still nervous to get on escalators thanks to Rescue 911). My mom home cooked our food, but I had my fair share of hot dogs, SpaghettiOs and Kid Cuisine meals (and I guarantee my mom didn’t have to feel bad about this or even check the label once for GMOs). And as a young kindergartener, I was allowed to run to the neighbor’s house two doors down unattended. Now, we can’t even let our kids play in the yard without us being there. It’s simply different.
Without going too far down the rabbit hole, the “times” have changed since our parents raised us, and I think this is what affects my adulting the most. No matter your views, I think we can all agree that watching the news is scary, saddening and downright frustrating. No matter what we are doing as parents, we are doing it wrong, too much, not enough. The world seems to be stacked against our kids (standardized testing, limited recess times, etc.), stacked against us (non-standardized and minimal parental leave, childcare costs, afterschool programming costs, etc.), and there is just more to worry about. Yes, we’ve done this to ourselves with social media and we do know more now.
But seriously, lay off us Millennials/Xennials – I promise we’re trying.