I walk into my son's sports team practice, help him take off his coat, and he goes running over to his coach. I look around the waiting room and see many moms, all of different ages and from different generations. It’s always fun talking with all the different moms because I feel each generation has its own unique character. Watching them all interact can be hilarious, as I feel many like to think their generation is the best and, let’s be honest, judge the shit out of all the other generations.
The Baby Boomer Mom (Mary, born 1958, current age 61)
I see the Baby Boomer mom as she is dressed in jeans, a cardigan sweater, and a good dose of Chanel No. 5. She’s mysterious to me as she’s been alive for over half a century, and lived most of what I read in my history text books growing up. She is a true baby boomer holding traditional values after having been taught by actual nuns. She’s seen and experienced the immense growth of wall street allowing her extra to money to take a cruise this spring on the Danube river, and she’s extremely loyal to organizations, with her newest love being Facebook (in case you didn’t know, one of the fastest growing demographics on FB is the Baby Boomers).
The song ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys comes over the loudspeaker and she quietly hums the tune to herself. She catches me watching, smiles, and says “they just don’t make music like this anymore’. I smile back and realize the mom next to me is rolling her eyes. The mom next to me is the Generation X mom.
The Generation X Mom (Jennifer, born 1975 current age 44)
She’s dressed in bootcut jeans and a long sleeved cotton shirt layered with a button down flannel. She is the shit, and when I was younger I would have considered her a total badass. She believes family and work are the most important things in life and asks tough questions when people pose new ideas. She believes the best music of all time was written in the early grunge era. Anyone who would try to dispute her, she will argue with, claiming the music of her time had raw intensity that spoke to people in a way that prior music never had.
I never argue with this mom, and willingly agree Nirvana definitely had a cool sound. I add that I miss the days of sitting in my room with friends, listening to the radio or watching MTV (back when it actually played music videos). You see myself and another mom here are part of the Xennial generation.
The Xennial Mom (Myself and Tiffany, born 1982, current age 37)
We’re part of the microgeneration that bridges the gap between Generation X and Millennials. We remember a time without technology during our formative years, but came to age during the dot-com bubble. Because of this, we remember using the rotary phone, but when we got our first iPhones in our late 20’s we could navigate them with ease. This allows us to act as liaisons between the generations, since we feel connected to, and part of, two generations. When 9/11 happened, we were in college and actually remember a different world before this disastrous day. This allows us to be optimistic about the world, but remember the evil that does exist, and still keep a level head. The Xennial mom tends to be laid back and reminds others how to take things with stride. We remember what it felt like to be playing Oregon Trail when our wagon got hit with Cholera, so in our eyes it could always be worse.
As Xennials we were born during the years of the original Star Wars trilogy, and I truly believe the best Star Wars movie to be “Return of the Jedi”. I will argue this fact until the day that I die with my millenial brother-in-law, who believes the best one to be “Attack of the Clones”. When he says such foolish things, it makes me happy to not have to associated with the Millennial Generation.
The Millennial Mom (Ashley born 1990, current age 29)
I see the millennial mom as she walks in with her kid. She is social, driven, and dressed impeccably. Before her child runs off she quickly gets out her latest model iPhone and they take a quick selfie together. She quickly posts the photo to her instagram account which consists mostly of pictures of her family. I swear she must have a professional photographer present with her at all times because her photos look like something out of a magazine. Even her husband's man bun looks good in her photos on Insta.
The clothes the millennial mom is wearing were given to her for free by an apparel company. She explained to us last week that she has over 23,000 followers on Instagram, and companies now offer her free products to post pictures on Instagram of her and her kids in their product. She says it’s called “influencing” and that others see her in these clothes and then buy these items for themselves. It’s the new world of marketing in the millennial world.
The generation X mom rolls her eyes (again) as she doesn't believe what the millennial mom is doing is a secure job. The Baby Boomer mom asks, “What’s Instagram? Can I see your adorable photo on FB?”. Xennial Tiffany goes over to the Baby Boomer mom and helps her set up an Insta account. I consider the Millennial mom to be a digital ninja, as I can’t even influence my 4 year old to eat his vegetables. It’s at this moment that I feel like a total loser. But let’s face it, I kind of am a loser in my own rite, as there was a time in my life that I (and Tiffany) idolized Britney Spears. When she had her downfall in 2007 part of me died with her, and this part has never fully recovered.
Most individuals I know in older generations judge me a little bit based on this very fact. At times I don’t blame them for it, as it must make me seem a tad foolish or even like a flake. But then I remember all those in older generations who idolized Bill Cosby and all his fabulous parenting, and I can hold my head a little higher.
I guess in the end we’re all pretty much the same, as we all have children with special needs. Our kids’ ages range from 5 to 20 years old, and they are all a part of the same special needs sports team. This is something that brings us together and makes us all friends despite our generational stereotypes and differences. You see, this is the first time in history that four generations of special needs parenting are able to be in the same room together, learning from one another. When the generation before the Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation, had kids like ours, these kids were often institutionalized and no parenting occurred. But now times have changed, and we have realized we are all in this together and learn so much from one another.
The Baby Boomer Mom, her generation fought to get our kids acceptance and appropriate education in schools. Things that the other generations take for granted many times, as it’s been around since I’ve become a special needs parent. It’s the very protests and lawsuits she and others like her helped orchestrate, which allow a child with Down syndrome to today be a part of a public school and sit in regular education classroom. For parents in this generation are our pioneers, and they have so much wisdom and knowledge of how to get something done, it makes me think this mom is some sort of mythical character.
Um yeah, right! I think it went more like this…
The Generation X Mom, it’s not that she really is judging the rest of us for our career choices when she asks all those hard questions. It may seem like she is poking holes in our ideas or being downright cynical, but it’s really that she wants to make sure we have solid game plan, and are financially secure for what’s ahead. For she knows all too well after witnessing 4 recessions in her lifetime how things can turn on a dime. She wants the best for us and our kids.
The Xennial mom teaches us all how to take the crazy things our lives throw at us, without totally losing our sanity. She teaches us to embrace the mess, laugh it off, and continue on with a smirk and a smile. She also, teaches others to embrace our ever changing society, while letting us know it’s okay to ask for help with this endeavor.
And from the Millennial mom we learn how to be optimistic regardless of what is happening in our lives. That no matter how hard it gets, you just throw your hair in a bun, throw on some lipstick and Insta the shit out of your day! (Just kidding!) But that no matter how hard it gets, deal with it, and keep on a damn smile. There is so much negativity in the world, and the Millennial mom isn’t part of it, she’s a light of optimism that we all need in hard times.
Special needs moms look past the generational stereotypes, and ignore them. For we embrace and empower one another, for as special needs moms we are each others' lifelines. We hope that moms of typical children can learn to do the same. Each generations brings its own unique perspective, experiences, and essence to this thing we call life, and we can learn from anyone.
~H-Bomb Ties, Ltd.