Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and possibly gaining an ounce or two of maturity. Maybe being practically locked in the house with my two teens for the past couple of months due to the ‘Rona has shone a glaring spotlight on the cracks in my family unit. Or maybe I’m just too rebellious for the 9-5 life and working without pants has given me a taste of life I never want to give up. Maybe it’s all of these things. But whatever the reason, what I know without a doubt is that I am fed up. I am over letting chaos dictate my life and the lives of my children.
You feel me?
The life of your average millennial mom is practically defined by chaos. But listen, chaos is only chaotic if you let it rule your life. If chaos dictates how you parent, how you make a living, how you make choices and whether you take chances, then, a) join the club, and b) it’s time we get some shit straight.
I’m your stereotypical millennial, raised to believe I was special, and upon realizing the rest of the world does not think anything of the sort, I succumbed to a strange mix of rebellion & depression, with a solid dash of victim mentality added in for good measure.
I’m also a mom. A single mom of two teens, and, while I’m not sure exactly what kind of mom I am, I can assure you, that there is nothing stereotypical about my parenting.
I would dare to guess that all of the above could be true, or at least somewhat true, for a lot of millennial moms. We were kind of thrown to the wolves as young women, in my opinion. Expected to change the idea of womanhood for ourselves, expected to take charge of our destiny with an over-inflated sense of self and zero skills to back it up.
At the same time, it was implied that our role was to single-handedly fulfill the previous generations ideals of womanhood, essentially tasking us with becoming homemakers, highly educated career women, mentors, leaders in our fields, main or at least equal earners in our homes, and to our children, disciplinarians, nurturers, housekeepers, nanny’s, cooks, all while displaying patience, wisdom, some semblance beauty with an emphasis on sensuality, AND posses some serious organization skills.
Most of us have no idea how to achieve any of this, and have instead adopted a mindset of avoidance and distraction to keep us from feeling like completely worthless failures and disappointments to everyone around us.
We’ve become a meme…
But I believe there is much more to us millennial’s than the stereotypical selfishness and tantrum throwing wimps. I know there is.
We have a tendency to lose ourselves in the expectations of others. As a result, we either try to be a hero, my bad, heroine, and do it all, be everything to everyone without any help from anyone. Or we become the hypocrite, rendering all of our unique abilities and passions useless in the real world, and trading them in for the suffocating box that demands we conform to the labels that supposedly determine whether we are worthy as parents, women, or as relevant human beings in general. The rest of us play the victim, and we just say fuck it and give up. We stop caring. We drown our failures in our addiction of choice, we blame everyone else for our shortcomings.
I also think we have this kind of drive to us that we don’t tame, and instead of leading us to be the bad-asses we dream about, we end up in way over our heads feeling like failures at everything. We joke about how we suck at adulting, fail at parenting and basically are just disappointments to everyone around us, but deep down our pride is truly taking a beating.
The guilt creeps up and we question every choice we make, we lose confidence in our ability to parent (kids know it too, and will absolutely use it against us) we assume our passions and go-getter mentality is childish and impractical, and we start just sort of floundering through life, hoping that we make it through the day. We let go of the things that have always been important to us, try to conform our ideas, interests and values to fit inside a box full of labels that supposedly make us responsible, educated adults, good parents who love our kids enough to make sure we beat any of that spirit out of them before it’s too late, so that they can fit inside the box too, without any issues.
We can’t do it all. We can’t be everything to everyone. We sure as hell can’t do it all on our own. We are not superheroes.
We are also not hypocrites. Nor are we victims.
We are women. Powerful influencers. Electric with emotion. Intuitive in ways that are sometimes terrifying. We can break through the hardest of hearts. We can lead with compassion and uncanny foresight. We build bridges and create bonds in a unique and inexplicable way.
We are fucking goddesses. We are more than able to remove the blindfold, regain our balance and throw the stupid box with all its labels in the trash where it belongs.
But doing so requires us to get real about parenting as a millennial, about the unprecedented circumstances and expectations that have been dumped on us, and about the chaos that seems to permeate no matter how hard we try to break free.
We can’t break free of something we refuse to acknowledge. So many of us wear one mask to hide another, creating a false persona full of false problems that are only given attention to deflect the real issues we don’t want anyone to know about.
It requires humility and vulnerability, which isn’t something we are all that willing to give. But what we need to start recognizing is that the light of truth and awareness have a way of chasing away the dark shadows of ignorance and animosity.
So millennial moms, what is lurking in the shadows of your heart? What do you sweep under the rug? What undercurrent has you gasping for breath before the next torturous wave of chaos pulls you under? What cycle of destruction are you too afraid to confront, even as it starts to grip your children?
Let’s expose a few of these dangerous shadows, and talk about how they affect us as mothers and as women.
Sexual abuse. No one wants to confront this monster head on, but the reality is, more than one in three women are victims of sexual violence in their lifetime, and more than one in four experience sexual abuse as a child. And if you don’t think this affects the choices we make for ourselves and for our children on a daily basis, guess again.
Whether you’re in one, have survived one, or want to prevent your child from getting trapped in one, the trauma, pain, and fear of this issue has a drastic effect on us and how we manage our households.
Impossible expectations. Yes, impossible. We as women have gained the right to the same opportunities as men. But these gains haven’t lifted the load of emotional, physical and familial stressors. It has made them even more heavy. It is now expected of us to be both the strong, independent, free-spirited leaders we’ve fought so hard to be seen as, AND the perfect housewives with Pinterest perfect homes and Facebook perfect families. And we just can’t. Women are fucking fantastic, but we are still one single human being. So why does it feel like masquerading as anything less than five makes us weak, pathetic, and less than our male counterparts?
Single parenting. Nothing is more difficult and overlooked than being a single mother. I did it for over ten years and I still have no idea how I made it through. My kids didn’t. The hard choices we have to make as single parents never reflect the ideals we hold for family life. I don’t know what’s more crippling; the financial disparities or the all engulfing guilt that lurks behind every door of every decision we make.
Mental Health Disorders and Disabilities.
As labels like ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, PTSD and plethora of others become more common in the average household than not, we millennial moms face a force we have no idea how to reckon with. We’re in uncharted territory, and so are the mental health experts trying to guide us.
Poverty. Inequality. Drug and alcohol abuse. These are a few of the many disparities that plague so many millennial’s. And moms are this unseen, invisible but extremely high risk group that just get trampled in every aspect of our lives.
See, I believe the underlying cause of so much pain and chaos in the life of a millennial mom can be traced back to a breakdown in the family. As a society, we are more interested in feeding the capitalist agenda than we are in cultivating values like selflessness in our children. Or ourselves. As individuals, we often don’t feel like we have a choice. We are a slave to our jobs, to the labels put on us, to the fear imprinted on us from the moment we are born. We are slaves to survival-ism. We do whatever we have to do to make sure our kids are fed, clothed, and semi-educated. And that doesn’t usually leave us a lot of room for nurturing, disciplining, teaching, or listening.
But it’s ok millennial moms. Because if there is one thing I know about millennial women, it’s that we are a force to be reckoned with. No, we can’t do it all. Yes, we are set up for failure. But since when do we back down to a challenge? We are innovative, relentless, and generally don’t respond well to authority. So I say, let’s take back our right to parent outside the box. Let’s take back our families. Let’s take back our identities, our individuality, our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That does not include being a doormat for abusers of any kind. That does not include being forced to work 3 jobs to live in project housing where our kids raise themselves. That does not include watching our children fall into the same cycles of destruction that have dominated our own lives while we watch helplessly from the sidelines. That does not include dooming them to sub-par education, housing, healthcare, or family support.
What it does mean is standing by each other, being for each other, and working together to buck the system. It does mean we stop living as victims of the life we’re told to have, and we start creating our own futures. It does mean we forge a pathway for our kids to do the same, and give them the tools, the knowledge, the love, guidance, and unconditional support they need to do so.
So how do we do that? Well, I have a few ideas….
Thanks for reading!
Hi! I’m AJ, The Chaos Magnate!
I write about alternative education, mental health, building online businesses, and adulting for neurodiverse moms with neurodiverse kids! Follow me on Twitter @AJ_ChaosMagnate for more chaos & craziness!
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