Friday, January 06, 2012

friday forte: generation gap


There is gap of four generations in this photograph.
How so, I hear you ask?
Let me explain.
You see, that's my son on the left, dancing around chasing his reflections in the bevelled mirrors of the dressing table my great grandfather made as a wedding present for my great grandmother. And there's the generation gap. None of these people ever met; even my great grandfather is a mystery to me, and wife died before I was ten years old. We're still connected, even if it's just through furniture (I also have her rocking chair). These mirrors must have seen a lot.
The dressing table was given to me when I moved into my first house. It came directly from my great grandmother's house, from her's to mine, and I've always felt honoured by the connection. Though she never met them, she's been introduced to my husband and then our son in these mirrors.
I often wonder what she would make of my life, my family and my angst. I've been told she was immensely practical and down-to-earth, but did she dream or wonder if life might be different? Genetically of course, there is something of her in me. What of her do I reflect? Would she be understanding of my current dilemmas? Would she be sympathetic or brush it off? Would she, the mother of three children and fulltime stay-at-home mum (because that's where women were pre-war), be envious of my opportunities, or simply incredulous? In a different time and environment, what would she have done? She definitely had staying power, dying at the ripe old age of 93 so I think she might have made waves given the right tools.
I don't know, and will never know what she would have thought. All I do know is the life I have right now. A lot has changed for mothers, but in some ways a lot hasn't. I'm making decisions which weren't available to her, under circumstances which are probably very similar. For example, i've chosen to take a college diploma but it's still based around the occasionally complex issue of childcare. I'm trying to achieve some kind of personal satisfaction and balance, but in the context of enhancing family life. Although working (for pay) is my goal, I am, like her, constrained by being the best mother I can be to my child. Lots of differences yet no difference at all. What would she think, or did her busy life preclude time for philosophising?
Women, mothers or childless, are often very quick to point out the relative luxuries of my situation and, in doing so, stopper their ears to really listening to what is actually behind that very human of conditions, the search for a better way. Maybe they themselves are too busy to really think deeply about what's going on, or is it just plain old female jealousy and one-upmanship? Are the majority of women even capable of offering constructive, non-judgmental support to one of their own? Maybe my own flesh and blood would also summarily dismiss my quest. Or maybe, maybe it's really the bit of her in me that makes me restless?

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