Saturday, May 23, 2009


My friend Courtney asked me a question the other day that got me thinking about how lucky our generation is compared to our parents'. I started thinking about all the support that we have that our parents never had the chance to get. Of course, my parents' situation is a little different than most; immigrants finding their footing in a country half a world away from their entire family only adds to the already daunting task of getting married and raising a family. 

As my dad always like to tell people, he came to this country with $8 in his pocket (he also got off the subway from JFK and stepped into a police shoot out in Times Square... but that's another story...). After literally walking the streets of Manhattan with his resume in hand and sleeping on people's floors, he got a job and went back home to meet/marry my mom. After they got married, they lived on Long Island with a piece of glass on a box for a table and newspaper for curtains. My mom had to learn about JC Penny, the supermarket, jeans you know... America. They lived paycheck to paycheck and when I was born, they had to juggle baby expenses on top of everything. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been. 

Josh and I got started with few materials things as well. I pretty much left everything in NYC and asked/made Josh to leave all his grad school stuff behind (most of it was gross). We started with our clothes, books, pictures, and not much else. But we had jobs. We had an apartment lined up. We had a substantial savings account. We registered. The generosity of our friends and family gave us our fancy dishes, our everyday dishes, our 36 (!!!) wine glasses, a rack to put them in, our new furniture, our new pots and pans, nice knife set, a big screen TV, and who knows what else. It was like opening a kit and having a stocked life all ready to go. We complained about how Crate and Barrel PACKED THE PRESENTS, for Pete's sake.  

Having our parents close made me appreciate how hard it must have been for my parents when they were starting out. When I was little, phone calls home were a big deal, and hand written letters were the easiest way to share news. If they had vacation time, we went to India. Trips to Belize were not really an option. Josh, Divya and I have traveled the world, mostly thanks to our parents' airline miles. 

Now that Josh and I have a kid on the way, I am realizing again how lucky we are. No only do we have our parents, their friends, and our friends close by for help and advice and baby sitting and all that, we have a baby registry. It's insane. 

Now if we didn't have this, of course it wouldn't be the end of the world. We would have bought a perfectly suitable used crib and asked around for hand-me-downs for clothes and supplies. We would have taken the kid to the library. I would have taken more time off work in lieu of a nanny. We would have given up so much more than we have recently in order to prepare for this baby. Sure we are watching our spending and have started a separate baby fund, but Josh and I are still going out to dinner, still buying clothes and video games and getting our hair colored. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to do all this and still know that we will want for almost nothing when it comes to the baby (except, you know.... sleep). 

Is this a sign of the times? Is it even ok to visit a new baby without something brand new from  the BabyGap? Showing up with just used clothes and advice may not be enough any more. My parents had a support group and passed around clothes and toys and free time. Although I know we will have all that (most of my maternity clothes are borrowed), I feel like the "material" aspect of having a baby (or getting married even) has increased since we were kids. 

Of course, not everything we have will be brand spanking new, but most of it will. Am I unhappy about this? Of course not; I am incredibly thankful. Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not. 

What do you think? Do you think we have it easier than our parents did? Do you think it is because they sacrificed for our success or if today's society dictates registries and presents and checks for brides and babies? Is it a combination of both?


Blogger SR said...

I think far from everyone has it easier. My parents brought me here and gave me all the opportunities they never had, but it was entirely up to me to take any sort of advantage. Nothing was given to me for free, not school, not job, and not even my wedding.

Also, you might feel like it is easier now, when your parents and people of that generation hit retirement age, and the entire government support system is drained, you and I will end up supporting them. Give and take, you know.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

Do you think you have it easier or harder than your parents did when they first got married/came here? I just feel like we have MORE of everything - more appliances, more nights out, more vacations, more clothes, more support, more stuff in general

I am kind of looking forward to taking care of mine and Josh's parents. I don't see it as a bad thing.They gave us a LOT (opportunty and otherwise) and they are family. We will make it work. I don't see it has a give and take, more like a give and give back.

I think the point I was trying to make is that our generation is the registry generation while our parents had to start from scratch. Of course, I am speaking from my narrow socio-economic point over view, but it seems to me that our lives are much easier than theirs were at our age/stage in life. A lot of that as to do with the groundwork they laid for us, at least in my case.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

To me, it seems less about the THINGS and more about time and help. I mean, from what I see on facebook and know of my friends and family that have kids, they really get a lot of help from their parents just caring for the kids. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but my friend can just call her mother-in-law over every time she needs to go to the store or run errands, instead of taking the baby with her. Or if the parents want a night out, they just call up their parents. It's like a backup babysitter is only one call away and I don't think parents used to have that.

I know mine didn't. Of course, my grandparents were around immediately after the birth, but then they went back home to their lives and my parents were left with their new life. They lived states away from their parents, so they didn't have options, when I know people who can just go to work shortly after they have children and the grandparents will be the nanny.

Again, I'm not saying it's bad. We're extremely lucky to have that. I just hope that all the new moms out there really realize it.

9:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home