When my grandson told me that he was invited to the wedding of his friend I almost teared up! When had he become adult enough to have friends who were getting married? He is my first grandchild, and I still remember the night my daughter and her husband called me to say that they were picking me up to go with them to the hospital as it was time – and, yes, I’ve told this story before – I also remember how I jumped out of bed, went to my closet and was rummaging through my clothes to find something nice to wear as if the newborn would even be noticing what I had on! I guess that my excitement at the prospect dumbed me! Wasn’t I the one who had been stating unequivocally for the past nine months that I wasn’t going to be the kind of Grandmother who oohed and aahed over her grandchildren as if I was the first one ever to have them? That not every utterance from them was going to send me swooning? I was going to be Different! Well! Well! The minute I saw him I went flat on my back and had to eat all that Different bragging! The fact of the matter is that I was no Different than Billions of Grandmothers across our Planet.
So here he is now, that First Grandchild, a Millennial, informing me that he is invited to his first wedding! How did those years fly by so quickly? In talking to many friends they echo the same feeling of how the years flew by – as if suddenly? – and found us now living out our Old Age. My, oh my! Fleeting as they may seem, though, our lives have seen many Births and Firsts, Marriages and Rituals each occasion being a Marker in its own way, each one leaving its Imprint on our lives. The fact of the matter is that they weren’t that fleeting, that occasionally they dragged on, that sometimes they felt endless, however, now in our doddering years, with time erasing some of those memories and forgetting the trials and tribulations of it all, we dwell on ruing those missed special periods of time – days? weeks? months? years? – when we should have been Living The Moment, not just looking at What Comes After It. Now, though, for those of us who have Grandchildren (or, Nieces, Nephews, or Godchilds etc.) and none of the child-rearing responsibilities, we are at that precious juncture where we could (should?) be Living The Moment. I make an effort to do that, though there is no denying that I regret not having done that throughout my life!
Anyway, musings aside, some of the Millennials, specifically those living in thriving prosperous communities (others having different issues), seem to be forging their own path in this world, with their own rules, norms, standards and aspirations. From those I have had the pleasure of watching from their toddler years to their Millennial stage – the oldest now being about 42, the youngest about 27 years of age – as well as from articles and books that I have read about them, I feel that they are less Idealistic and more Realistic than previous generations – mine, certainly, when we thought that we were going to change the world, and how though in some ways we did, in others we goofed big time. Anyway, back to the wedding whence the invitations were sent out by Text to the few close relatives and friends who were invited. Text! I loved the idea! The wedding itself took place at the grooms’ parental home with a dinner following the Ceremony at which the grooms’ father officiated! How charming! How original!
Moreover, and again from current trends, as well as the booming apartment buildings sprouting out everywhere there is an inch of land to build on, some Millennials do not want to be tied down to a mortgage, while others have chosen the more traditional route of their parents. On the whole, they seem to prefer the Freedom of packing up the U-Haul and moving whenever and wherever they fancy. They prefer Flexibility: in their dwellings, workplaces and all else. Perhaps they understand Freedom much better than any of us do? They also seem to be applying that same Flexibility to their relationships: not bothering with Boxing people into what they seem to believe are divisive categories: black, brown, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Immigrant, Native, Gay, Trans, tall, short or Whatever! They don’t seem to care about all that. Good for them! They also don’t seem to care about Politicizing Every Issue. They simply want their politicians to do what’s Right for People, for the Environment and for Humanity as a whole. Do we then wonder why so many of them are Bernie Sanders fans? I’m not a Millennial, but I am so much in agreement with them! Moreover, they hardly ever watch the vacuous stuffed shirts on television, huffing and puffing their irrelevant propaganda and brainwashing with no real news and a plethora of needless opinions. They prefer quickly scanning the headlines on their phones, or on one of the many Apps on their devices. And, when it comes time to vote – which they do – they research the candidates, make their choice and head to the polling station. No Fuss! No Muss!
Another observation is that during the years when my children were youngsters and if two kids were slugging it out in the schoolyard we didn’t know about this unless they came home bruised and bloodied in which case we patched them up, maybe scolded them a bit and then sent them on their merry way! We weren’t that much into our children’s business hovering over every nuance, mood and event in their lives. We were more about “benign neglect,” weren’t we? Nowadays, all the Alarms would go off, the School Principle will call, Counselors and Therapists would get lined up! A whole big todo will ensue! That’s another reason why many Millennials seem to be unable to “self-sooth” as they call it these days; to handle any kind of trouble in their lives on their own. They seem to need constant emotional reinforcement and expect society (parents, boss, coworkers, partners etc.) to provide that – especially since they were brought up by wired, tired, over-achieving helicopter parents – and in most cases, that does occur, after which they probably do develop their own mechanisms for dealing with adversity. But it does seem to be taking so much longer than it used to, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, they are growing up in a changed technological world that affects their personal, social, and political landscape with challenges, anxieties and choices that could be quite overwhelming to navigate through. Phew!
Hopefully, the Marriages and Rituals that they are reinventing to suit their lifestyles and desires will help them to navigate their lives successfully and contribute to making their world a better place than the totally screwed up one we are leaving them with. Perhaps? Hopefully!