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Can Millennials truly appreciate Mother’s Day?

May 18, 2018
Shepherdstown Chronicle

This Mother's Day, I gave my mom a wonderful present-a shiny new colander. Yes, her old one had a broken leg, but the scenario felt strangely similar to that of a man giving his wife a new vacuum, expecting her to be thrilled. The wife in that story is always seething inside, but the difference between her and my mom is how they react to receiving their practical gifts.

My mom thanked me, threw away the broken colander, washed the new one and placed it in the kitchen closet.

It didn't even occur to her she should expect an extravagant Mother's Day gift, like perfume or a visit to the spa.

It's time to be thankful for our mothers, for those who have devoted their lives to filling our stomachs with delicious food, cleaning the house, keeping their family's behavior in check and enriching our everyday lives.

I'm not sure people in my generation really understand what our mothers have sacrificed for us.

Oftentimes, I'm embarrassed when people refer to me as "young" or as a Millennial, because I know what their assumptions probably are.

My dad is a Baby Boomer. My mom is a Generation Xer. Neither of them is treated like a stereotype by the media. But the Millennial stereotype is ever-present, saying we're self-absorbed, addicted to technology and immature. And, although some companies treat our shortcomings positively, they're doing so because they think we can't control our buying habits, viewing us as an easy dollar.

The truth is, although I don't like the stereotype, I think it might be true. Generally.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a noticeable decline in volunteerism in the U.S. In a 2016 report, volunteerism had decreased 0.4 percent over the past year, and reports from previous years revealed volunteerism has been gradually declining for over a decade.

Volunteer fire companies are having to find grants to hire firefighters, due to the lack of volunteers.

The Peace Corps and military advertise everywhere, trying to attract candidates willing to leave their comfortable lives for a few years of others-oriented, minimal-pay labor.

Churches are struggling and closing their doors as their congregations age, while younger would-be congregants spend their extra time online-and then wonder why they feel lonely and depressed.

This aversion to self-sacrifice is emotionally and physically unhealthy for us, and it hurts our communities.

Without individuals being involved in their communities, there are no communities. Without volunteers collectively supporting nonprofit organizations, the cost to maintain those nonprofits will force many of them to close. Without self-sacrifice, we're destroying a world our mothers and fathers built with their own sacrifices.

It's time to create a new stereotype for Millennials. And, just like with any change, it has to start with me.

 
 
 

 

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