Author: Shreya Volety
Growing up, my mother has been my closest confidante and mentor. I know that when she gave birth to a second daughter, she must have felt tired. She was by then burdened with the task of raising a headstrong daughter (I hope my sister doesn’t read this) in a not quite progressive environment. And to complement that, she now had a screaming infant, who would, in time, spend a significant part of her childhood being a serious introvert. My mother went to battle with her daughter’s personalities, with the world she was raising us in and everything in between to ensure we would be strong, independent women.
And yet recently, each time I enter a conversation about the world with my mother, I am shocked by her opinions. I am surprised because I must admit I have taken the work she has put into me and my sister and moved on into a world even my mother cannot comprehend. I am indignant that she still vouches for archaic traditions and cares deeply for societal constructs. I get angry with her because I want her to stand with me and beam with pride as I wave the flag of modern progressivism. But as I think about it, I realize, my mother, like so many other women of her generation never broke society’s rules. She simply found a way around them. She spent years perfecting the technique of trying to raise two daughters the way she wished her mother would’ve raised her while ensuring that at no cost would I, my sister, or my father would face the consequences of her being too rebellious. She adapted and survived.
My mother doesn’t understand social media’s woke culture. She doesn’t understand why I feel the need to rant about the many injustices of the world. She doesn’t understand what my generation feels. And I’m coming to realize it might be because hers never had the privilege of righteous rage. They spent all their time and energy walking the line of oppression while assessing how far they could toe that very line without the consequences being bad.
I think what saddens me in a way is that I cannot hold her hand and help her navigate this new world where I will openly demand what I want, instead of covertly snatching little bits of freedom like she had to. None of us can take the time to do that, because then we can never move forward. I can empathize with her, but I cannot stand by her the way she did. Maybe every generation is self-serving in this regard.
In one of Adam Levine’s famous songs, the lyrics go:
Tell us the reason,
Youth is wasted on the young,
It’s hunting season and,
This lamb is on the run,
Searching for meaning…”
But somewhere, I know that when my mother was eighteen she must have felt the same righteous anger I do now. She must have believed that she was capable of leading a revolt if she could. She couldn’t start a rebellion. But she did raise me with the capacity to participate in one. Maybe all of us 18-year-olds are also the young on whom youth is being wasted. And we’ll also run around like lambs until someone cuts us down. But if we could raise the next generation of daughters and sons to be better, children who will one day call us archaic fools, then we would have done our job.
“This lamb is on the run,
Searching for meaning,
Are we all lost stars,
Trying to light up the dark…”
Maybe we are all lost stars, but I plan on shining a little brighter than my parents could before I’m snuffed out. And maybe one day, the starlit sky would be brighter than humanity has ever seen before.