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A Love Letter to Millennial Moms, From a Gen X Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear millennial mom,

I know you’re used to the memes that insult your generation. They call you whiners and cry babies and say you’re not as tough or resilient as previous generations. Or maybe you haven’t seen those memes because you’re too busy raising your own kids and building a happy life. But trust me, the millennial generation gets a bad rap from a lot of people of my generation. And I’m here to tell you: I adore you.

I was born in 1967, just three years after the official end of the Baby Boomer generation. I may have the work ethic of a Boomer, but I also have the need for creative independence of a Gen X—which makes life as a freelance writer particularly rewarding for me. And you, millennial mom, were born sometime after 1982 and your qualities are a direct result of the world you have inherited from the previous generations. My apologies that we didn’t do a better job and leave you with more.

You’re doing more with less and if you’re bitter about it, you’ve shrugged it off and moved on. If that’s not resilience, I don’t know what is.

I hear my peers say millennials are lazy, unmotivated, too sensitive and too whiny—that they don’t have the bootstrappedness of the Boomers or the resilience of Generation X. Maybe that’s true for some of your peers, but among the 20s and early 30-something moms I know, I see only hard working, creative, compassionate young women who are thinking outside the box and reinventing motherhood and marriage to suit their own style. While I was told I would do better economically and educationally than my parents, you were given no such guarantee. You’re doing more with less and if you’re bitter about it, you’ve shrugged it off and moved on. If that’s not resilience, I don’t know what is.

You’re young enough to be my daughter, millennial mom, but you’ve never once make me feel like your mother. Maybe it’s because our kids are around the same age, or maybe it's because you're more self-assured than I was at your age. But you treat me like a peer and I see you as the mature, grounded person you really are and not the stereotype the media makes you out to be. Contrary to what my generation imagines, you’re not living with your parents (or, if you are, it’s because you’re saving for a down payment on your own house), you’re not looking for a handout (in fact, you’re volunteering time and money to your schools and communities), you’re not complaining because you don’t have it all (whereas my generation expected to have it all, you don’t even know if you want it all).

The older generations complain about your addiction to technology, but I think the Internet opened up your world before you had a chance to become close-minded to the opinions and experiences of others. Your empathy and altruism are admirable, and you care about others, whether it's your neighbor and a community on the other side of the globe. While your critics may laugh and call your compassion weak, I have faith you are raising a better generation than we’ve ever seen. Our experiences are vastly different. And maybe I should feel like I have something to teach you, but quite often it’s you who is teaching me.

When it comes to motherhood, I often think you’re overlooked, or worse, dismissed. And yet, you seem to be as knowledgeable as anyone of my generation, and far more savvy when it comes to the choices you make. You have every resource at your fingertips and you’re not afraid to use them. Cutting edge technology at home? You’re all about it. Ignoring the debate over breastfeeding or bottle-feeding and simply doing what’s best for you and your baby? You’re doing it. Choosing to be a stay-at-home parent or working parent without any of the conflict my generation has faced about trying to “have it all”? You’ve found what works for you and you’re wholly focused on that while being sympathetic and supportive of other women who have made other choices.

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There seems to be less debate and drama among millennial moms than Gen X moms. Less competition, less judgment. Your detractors call you selfish and self-absorbed. I say you're self-aware and confident. You are mature beyond your years—maybe that’s why we get along so well.

Ignore the haters and keep doing your thing, millennial mom. You may not have inherited the world you deserve, but you’re making the best of it—and you’re making it better. Thank you.

XOXO

A Gen X mom

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