Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Different lives

Your children live such different lives than you.

Generations ago this wasn't true. You lived the life your mother, and your grandmother, and probably your 5 times great grandmother lived. Change came slowly; your family situation was immutable to a large extent.

Enter the 20th Century and the dislocation of tens of millions (hundreds of millions?) from the agrarian past. Without the connection to the land and the community, there was really no reason to try to live the life your father lived, and your grandfather's and great grandfather's life was now out of reach. Those on the land continued, perhaps, to follow their ancient traditions and lifestyles, but those in the cities couldn't, wouldn't, or didn't need to. And the cities increasingly beckoned more and more people from the life on the farm, where the rhythms were becoming increasingly urban, or at least controlled by people whose rhythms were urban.

Suddenly there was this strange modern thing called "choice."

But your children's lives will also differ in more personal ways. My own family had broken down by the time I was my children's ages. My mother was dead, my father immersed in an increasingly remote role that had no room for me. Wei's mother remained (and remains) connected, but his elderly father died before my daughter was born.

My children retain strong bonds with us, and I can't see that changing. It was something deliberate on my part. I feel very keenly how adrift Wei and I were as young adults, without the strong anchor of a stable existing home or parents and wanted my kids to know that we were always there for them. I watch my children struggle with relationships, jobs, and, frankly poverty, and am completely nonplussed about how Wei and I handled this.  We just had to make it up; the "adults" in our lives were, for the most part, absent, or useless.

My kids know that they can come home.

1 comment:

Chiot's Run said...

Such an interesting take based on your experience as a young adult. I find it fascinating that we often gravitate towards that we felt we lacked or needed, veering sharply away from our experiences in order to do something different.

I've noticed that in a lot of my friends who are of similar age as I am (mid-30's) a shift back towards the more agrarian, deliberate, less consumerism driven lifestyle that they were raised under. It's fascinating for me to watch as they struggle to learn to bake bread and the things our parents shunned as "for the less wealthy" than us. They long for the comfort of homegrown vegetables, they want to know how to cook from scratch, they would love to know how to entertain themselves without technology but struggle to do so.

My experience was a bit different, I had both my parents growing up, but since I was raised in another country, and a dangerous one, my parents did everything they could to make sure we'd be independent. They wanted us to be OK if something happened to them. As a result we were all very independent children/teenagers/adults. Perhaps too much so at times for them, as they might often like it if we needed a bit more from them.

Love what you're doing, more people need to live a little more deliberately and focus on their family!