It’s a time of waiting for me as I write this. Our youngest daughter is expecting her second son. There have been many challenges faced these past eight months. One ultrasound revealed a sixth toe, another water around his kidney and now a third showed water on his brain. They are headed for a neonatal center next week to discuss options in birthing as well as the best care that can be provided for him.
When my daughter related all this information to me, I flashed back 23 years to her birth as my second daughter: she was two weeks past her due date and still no sign of her. I called the doctor and told him I couldn’t sleep with her anymore, there was too much pressure on my back. He made the decision to use pitocin and pushed her out two days later. She was birthed naturally and weighed 10 lbs. 11 oz., had an infection and she was taken from me almost right after delivery. I was discharged from the hospital without her and cried the two weeks she was away.
When she came home, we had to get used to each other as she had been bottle fed, and I wanted to nurse her. We struggled. She was a colicky baby, with a stomach hernia. There was no consoling her or me. I had to figure something out, but in the mean time, to add to our stress, we moved from the city to a rural town into our first home. I had no friends or family nearby to help us. My daughter and son-in-law just moved into a larger apartment close to his parents. Here the similarities end.
I’m planning to stay with them after this baby is born and help out any way I can. My daughter predicts a C-section as this baby is so big, they don’t want to put pressure on his brain at all and I predict she will need a bodyguard from her 2 ½ year old football player.
My daughter amazes me in her drive to complete her degree while she plans to take her infant to classes with her for her last semester. In contrast, I was determined to stay at home with my two daughters and kept them out of a day care center.
What the future holds for this new generation—only God knows. I have seen society change in a myriad of ways: computers came into our home when my youngest daughter was 10. This new baby will have one right from the start in his home. The computer will allow my daughter to work from home. My oldest daughter works outside the home and her two children attended day care until they entered school. They know how to use the remote on their TV, and the computer is an integral part of their lives as well. Their father works from home with it as part of his business. I watch these two a couple days a week after school so their father can get to meet with clients.
I used to have my daughters research information at the library—now, my grandson says, “Grammy, just look it up on the computer.”
Two summers ago, I taught these older two how to plant seeds in the dirt to make flowers grow. We placed the seed in the dirt, got water, watered the area well and they waited two minutes before asking, “Why didn’t they come up yet?”
“It takes time,” I replied.
“Mommy’s plants grow right away on the computer,” they told me.
I had to explain that a computer farm game was not the real thing and that we have to wait for our seeds to grow. They turned and left now that they weren’t going to see anything exciting.
I am a traditional oil painter. My youngest daughter is going into graphic designing. What she can do on her computer program far exceeds the number of paintings I can complete in a week.
Has this next generation lost quality in order to gain quantity? Have they not learned the virtues of patience and how to wait? Have they become more selfish and greedy? This generation has come to expect life handed to them on a platter.
The next generation is learning from us as we have learned from our folks. The main intention being—I want my children to have some things that I didn’t/ couldn’t have… which is noble when done in moderation.
Somehow this gets lost possibly due to a variety of lifestyle scenarios: i.e. Divorce, single parenting, and grandparenting. One parent or significant person tries to out give the other and the result is a spoiled child who comes to expect that his every demand will be met. He doesn’t know any better especially under the age of six.
My mother would say, “I’m their grandmother, I’m supposed to spoil them.”
So, what kind of generation are we raising? Are we good stewards of the earth? Do we have the right focus? Or are we setting this next generation up for irreversible repercussions? Can they live without a computer, cell phone, iPads, Blueberries—oops, my husband just corrected me—Blackberries?
Does anyone know how to rough it anymore? Camp? Living in Maine about an hour away from any malls, and guarantied to get at least one snow storm that knocks out the power for a week or so, has developed my sense of self-reliance. I can survive and I will train my grandchildren how to as well.
I am now learning the term “Helicopter Parents.” It is said that these parents pay extremely close attention to what their child is learning whether they need it or not. These children aren’t allowed to problem solve on their own, or experience the risk of making their own choices. These parents try to sweep all problems away from their children their whole lives. They also over parent by solving all of their children’s problems for them into their adult lives by negotiating raises with the child’s boss while the child is supposedly living on their own. The cell phone has been blamed for the creation of these “helicopter” parents in that the cell phone is the world’s longest umbilical cord.
The principle of trusting others has gone by the wayside via the parents’ example of constantly checking up on them via the cell phone. Honesty is of a bygone era. Hope in a God is unknown because parents have taken on that role. Self-discipline has almost disappeared—mom and dad do it all for me, so why should I bother. The first time the child meets with disappointment they become crushed, as they haven’t developed self-esteem or self-worth. Faith is a non-entity. Most lack courage to stand up for something. Do they have anything to believe in? Integrity to follow the beat of one’s inner drummer is under developed. Willingness to try something new is missing. Most lack humility with pride putting up a false front in order to gain acceptance from the crowd. Selfishness overrides love and selflessness. I quit – instead of perseverance. We have a new generation with no sense of spirit. They have become autotrons – people who are more like robots than spiritual beings.
On earth, now exist, the elderly in retirement homes or assisted living facilities separated from their families’ love and warm care. Those newly retired may or may not be financially well off as the economy continues to change. They are going back to work. Those in their 50’s are rethinking their retirement age to about 70 and are staying in the work arena. Those in their 40’s, 30’s and 20’s are trying to figure out how to make a living and how to make all their ends meet with about half or more not being successful in this endeavor. More and more young families are relying on state assistance to provide them with meals.
The neonatal specialist has eased most of my daughter's fears and says to go ahead with a natural birth. We just have to wait and see if this new baby has any learning disabilities. She is now in her ninth month and we are all eager for this new arrival. Anticipation is running high… waiting for that phone call saying, “We’re going to the hospital now…”
The truth of it all is that God is in charge and when we connect with this higher power, we get better results in our daily lives and become the best people we can be. When we are living from our higher selves, everyone around us is affected and they can’t help but become better too.
It’s time to birth our new selves for the next generation to grow forward into self-awareness, love, hope, faith, integrity, trust, perseverance, willingness, patience and service to mankind to make our world a better place.
Jill Marie Langdon is a freelance writer, fine artist and studio teacher on the practice of "letting go," where her students learn the Tao of Painting in the Mid-Coast Maine area. Inspired by flowers and beauty in general, her works can be seen at www.wix.com/jill_marie/artscape_studios.