Monday, January 8, 2018

     Last night’s GNO with two of Katey’s friends was a fascinating eye-opener for me. It has been many years since I sat with 40-somethings who were not part of our family and listened to them talk about concerning issues. As they were both strong political party supporters, that explained some of their viewpoints, but certainly not all. I wanted to know how this generation thinks, and if these three were representatives, I feel there is hope for the world. 

     The best thing about the meet-up was that they listened to each other without interrupting. They seemed to respect each other’s opinions, and each was open and trusting. The fact that the three of them could have that honest exchange of feelings and ideas was the best part of the evening, and I’m not sure they even realized it. To be heard and to connect are two of the most important things we, as humans, need, and they have that in each other. By the conversation I witnessed last night, they were obviously comforted, affirmed and energized. The common thread was to make the world a better place.

      I don’t ever recall sitting with my girlfriends when I was a young mom talking about how stressed our kids were about what college they were going to attend or who was going to harass them next. We didn’t worry about whether our teachers were doing their jobs well, as most were. We didn’t fret about what high school they would attend, as our public schools were excellent. And, of course, there was no social media, not even computers at that time, so 75% of the angst these moms feel was not even in our vocabulary. Terrorism as we know it today did not exist. 

     Three of the four of us at the table were single moms at some point. All of us are college educated, and all of us want what’s best for our children. They spoke of what is “normal behavior” for a teenager. These days, “normal” has changed greatly, especially since I grew up in the 50s and 60s. The events of 9/11 changed much of this, but social media and global communication have changed how we see the world and each other.

      We laughed, we vented, we counted our blessings, and we left with a mission:  What can we do as individuals to make the world a better place, particularly at the local level. They all want to be advocates, and they are much different from the mom I was and most of those I knew. 

      I am not saying that things were easy in my generation; we had our own challenges. There have always been hatred, racism, sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, but some of it was buried, and some of it was ignored. Today, it is all out there on the table for everyone to view and take a stand. 

     What touched me is that when I spoke last night, they listened. I never preached or told them what to do, but I told them how it was for me as a mom, a teacher and a single parent. If young people would listen to their grand-parents and to the older people they respect, I believe it would give them perspective that would help them in their quest. No one has the answers, especially me, and I understand the pressures these women face daily. 

     If I could give them one piece of advice, I would say, while you are so busy worrying about all these issues, don’t forget to focus on the positive, beautiful things you have accomplished in your parenting. When they walk out the door at 18, your goal should be that they are so self-reliant and confident, that they will love and respect you but never plan to come back permanently. This means you have taught them to believe in themselves and that you have given them the coping skills to deal with a world changing at an alarming rate.