“My children may no longer need all of the things that nobody actually needs despite the endless ads they spread across the online parenting space, but they are still kids. And I’m still a parent, hairline be damned. Are we not an audience?”
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I recently turned 45, which, if you do the math, is legally dead in Internet years.
I wouldn’t have believed it, seeing as I have made my living off said Internet for over a decade and, most days, I feel like I’m still breathing, albeit heavily. But the facts don’t lie.
For instance, just days after my birthday I was told by a confidant the reason a mutual friend hadn’t followed up on my offer (see, begging and pleading) to appear in their line of viral parenting videos had far less to do with my kids “aging out” of whatever demographic online parenting magazines target, and more to do with the fact that I had. They were going after a “more millennial audience.” And then I rolled my eyes like a 34-year-old, because whatever.
To compound that slight, I just filled out an online survey that required the checking of my “age group” from four different options. Turns out that I’m no longer in that coveted second box, but now in the third square for ages 45 to “does it really matter?”
Apparently it does.
Granted, on the big scale of privilege, my male whiteness has skewed things pretty heavily in my favor, and truth is that if I were interested in pursuing the politics of stereotype I would just now be on the cusp of consideration. But I’m not that guy. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t felt my share of societal shame. I mean, I am losing my hair, abs and eyesight, one of which I never really had to begin with.
Enter 45, and with it the baggage of ageism. Honestly, I didn’t expect this for at least another decade —you know, the one in which all those old people hang-out like it’s 4 p.m. at the Olive Garden.
This is what a midlife crisis for a so-called aging parent looks like on the Internet. AND YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
For the past few years there hasn’t been a week gone by that some article about millennial entitlement didn’t loop itself in my Facebook feed, mostly because I don’t use Snapchat. I get it. The constant unfulfilled expectations of the “me generation” must be as frustrating to the person living the story as it is annoying to those that find it curated on their favorite lifestyle site. The struggle? It’s real, people.
However, and this is where I really show my age, millennials didn’t invent entitlement. Or whining. Or really big hats. Seriously, I’ve dabbled with all three of those things just today, and, as I may have mentioned, I’m mostly dust and memories.
In fact, some of my best friends are millennials. Also, baby boomers. And “the greatest generation.” Some are young, some are old. It happens. Someday, if we’re lucky, we’ll all get to experience both sides of the great age divide — assuming we survive the darkness of 45 and the shadows that surely follow. I would even go so far as to suggest that aging gracefully is something we are all entitled to.
They say we aren’t getting any younger, and they are right. No amount of eye-rolling can change that (but I appreciate the effort). And yet, I can’t quite figure out where it is that they expect us to go. My children may no longer need all of the things that nobody actually needs despite the endless ads they spread across the online parenting space, but they are still kids. And I’m still a parent, hairline be damned. Are we not an audience?
I suppose we can only deal with the days we know. Now is the time to take care of ourselves, to pursue our dreams and do something good. Now is a photo album (or an app, whatever) compiled as we go, when we have the chance to celebrate our friends and family while our paths continue to cross. Now we are equally needed by our parents and our children, and while hardships may arise they are temporary things that we will one day long for. This holds true at any age, but perhaps it takes the weight of 45 candles on a gluten-free cake to really put it into perspective.
I’m sorry if this aging parent keeps showing up in your Facebook feed.