|My parents had the same goldenrod refrigerator for 25 years, and it never let them down.|
I was a tiny child in the nineteen-sixties. I have passing remembrances of JFK being assasinated, and watching his widow and his children, on television, at the funeral. I remember that Caroline and little John looked like my brother and I at the time, and so I related. Despite the turmoil that was going on in the country through the sixties, I knew almost nothing of it. I awoke to the seventies. There was a gasoline crisis. My father spoke of a recession, but to me, life was very stable. I went to school. Most of the people I knew were upper middle class, and those who weren't were still my friends, and they shared the same ideals and standards we had. Not much changed year to year, on television, at Sears, or anywhere else. I didn't realize it at the time, but my parents worked hard for us to grow within that stability, something neither of them had, in part, due to WWII. For a time we lived in England, but even that was very stable. We lived at my grandmothers and my aunt's home while we were there. I went to a good school in Harrow, and even though I could write you a book on the cultural differences between Britain and the US in those days, life was secure and it was certain. Green beans would grow. We would pick them, and we would have them for dinner along with baby new potatoes and a Granny Smith apple pie with apples picked from Nana's tree.
I went to college early in the Northeastern US, and graduated in 1981. I had a chance to see what a recession was for myself, in a place that had an expensive standard of living and was a tough place to get a start. But still, my life was slated to be very much like that of my parents. When I found difficulties with something, chances are, they knew a good measure about it, and could advise me if I asked. That chain of knowledge has broken now.
|Our kids first computer, the Amiga.|
My first two kids were born in the mid nineteen-eighties, and then a third and a fourth in the nineties. They were predominantly homeschooled and therefore had an education that was different than mine, and in many ways academically superior. They embraced computers, which were only just becoming available to me when I was in college. After we had kids, if I needed computer help, I went to a six year old here at home, who frankly could load and troubleshoot anything I ever needed. We were thankfully one of the first families we knew who had computers and had the internet, which was necessary for my husband's work as an engineer. The kids took to it like little ducks to water. Right off, I was no longer the authority on many things that my parents had been. There were a lot of things that my children simply knew more about and managed better than I could, despite their ages. The sheer amount of time they had to learn was greater than the amount of time I had in childhood to do so.
In our thirties my husband and I decided to move from the suburbs to the country. It might be harder on us, we thought, but our children were becoming consumers in the suburban jungle. Time seemed to be accelerating, and even in what was reputed to be a "good neighborhood", we saw signs of drug dealing, and the deterioration of the family. We left our good friends and homeschooling group and moved way out to the country. No Chinese food, no pizza, and milk and bread were twenty miles away. For a short time we had a neighborhood store a bit closer, but they decided to close when a neighborhood church asked them to stop selling beer on Sundays, and that was about all they were really selling, along with fantastic potato salad and fried foods.
In moving, my husband and I were able to "slow our world down" to allow that precious stability a bit longer so that our kids could grow up in the safer bubble that we remembered. In their teens, they transitioned to college, and then to universities. They did well adjusting to college and to the university afterward. It had not hampered them to be at home and have fewer interactions with their peers. They knew who they were before they were confronted with college level peer group pressure. They became leaders and not followers.
Upon graduating from the university with honors, the two eldest ones entered our world of uncertainty. One had a modest amount of student loan debt, and the other had a fairly large student loan burden. We have another in college now, and one who may attend next year. I don't envy them. The background levels of uncertainty are tolerated by my husband and I because we have been dealing with it for many years. Our kids were a bit shocked to come to the world from college. They learned that you can graduate from the university with honors and seek a job every day for a year and not find one. It took more than a year for our daughter to get a good job. Our son learned that someone can crash into your car, totalling it, a week before college graduation. The person who hit him was convicted, but their cut rate, out- of-state insurance has never paid him a dime for his medical expenses, or for his totalled car. He has no choice but to sue the driver, who has disappeared. The uninsured driver coverage on his insurance does not apply, as the person had insurance !
All of us live with the possibility that our inept president will start a war with someone. We live with the distinct possibility that the economy won't get any better here because the good jobs left for India, Brazil, Mexico and Canada. I am watching food and utility prices go up so quickly that our plan to retire-in-place might be a pipedream. The next time I am ill, I could find out that what I need is only being appropriated for people in their thirties, but not for me. Uncertainty brings background stress. Background stress can bring illness, but most often it breeds anger first.
Our entire nation lives with enough background uncertainty that it slows the momentum of lives. Couples remain engaged for years because it might not be wise to marry during this downturned economy. People avoid retiring. Others retire as soon as they can thinking that social security is less likely to be taken away from them if they are already collecting it. Small businesses don't get started, and people choose not to have children, or build the home they need. Confidence in the future has eroded.
I hope that there is enough certainty in your own life, that you are able to move forward.