I completely shocked my millennial colleagues this week when I told them I can’t remember the last time I went to a café for breakfast with my family.
We were discussing the young property millionaire Tim Gurner who had caused a stir by saying millennials should forego their $4 daily coffee and expensive avocado toast (and also make some sacrifices and compromises) if they want to buy a home.
I explained to my lovely millennial colleagues that brunch with my family is way too expensive. We are a family of five with two working parents and are very lucky, but like most Australian families we have a budget, lots of outgoings and have to prioritise where money goes. Brunch doesn’t make the cut.
Budgeting is boring as hell. It’s frustrating and mind numbing, worst of all it can often be stressful and anxiety inducing, but it’s life when you have to pay bills and you are not a Kardashian or Zuckerberg.
I also spoke to my parents this week: they are of the boomer generation and our conversation veered onto a friend of the family who needs to get a new job. They were shocked by my arsenal of examples of what constitutes a long stint at one company, how job security no longer exists, how it’s not just about sticking your head down and working hard because sometimes there is no job to work hard in.
Or if there is a job, you really don’t know how long for.
I’m Generation X. The millennials think we have it easy (or don’t think about at all) and the generation boomers don’t understand because they can’t SEE the stressors we face.
We are the middle child of generations: largely forgotten, getting on with raising children while perhaps even simultaneously looking after elderly parents, watching our two siblings – boomers and millennials – get all the attention and fight each other over everything from who has it the easiest in life to what constitutes pure frippery as a spread on toast.
These two generations can hog all the attention, but just ask Jan Brady, sometimes the all-knowing, lucky Marcia gave her the shits and sometimes Cindy was clueless - but believed she knew it all - and needed to grow up and drop that lisp.
Of course boomers are not one amorphous mass and neither are millennials but as everyone has lumped hundreds of millions of people into two convenient categories (in the US alone millennials are now the largest generation and constitute around 80 million) I’m going to go along for the ride and try to speak to my generation siblings.
Because, clears throat, the middle child does have something to say.
Millennials, this wage stagnation you talk of, Gen Xers feel that too. We are still in the workforce. I know women in their 40s not earning much more than they did in their late 20s and if they do lose their job they then face age discrimination in searching for employment. (When they look for employment, it's you millennials not them, who get hired).
Mental health? Yes, Gen Xers have issues there too – it just took us longer to understand it.
Body image, social media, HECS debt, gender discrimination, ridiculous house prices. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discuss why it's time for Millennials to stop whinging and getting 'another' degree (post continues after audio...)
Boomers, oh boomers, I know you have worked so hard and I know no one even drank takeaway coffees when you were in the workforce and that first couch and car you bought you paid cash, because buying on credit is stupid, but us Gen Xers we do understand budgeting, hard work and patience.
We are raising families as the cost of living steadily rises, wages stagnate and job security is non-existent. And those kids we are trying to push out into the world as healthy, capable, compassionate, intelligent contributors? They have a lot trickier lives to navigate than we did (remember you didn’t know what we were doing half the time and parenting wasn’t even a verb).
Then there are our aging parents whose needs change so fast. There are a lot of stresses in our lives you can't see.
In the wise words of Mike and Mechanics: Every generation blames the one before and all of their frustrations come beating on your door. (Sorry couldn’t help myself.)
The blaming and finger pointing and bickering between generations is as annoying as watching two siblings squabble over doing the washing up. There are no winners. If you want a clean kitchen there are certain things you just have to do and compromise over.
What Mike and The Mechanics neglected to say when they wrote their philosophical manifesto Living Years is that: Every generation has its challenges, joys and fears.
In the middle of all of the love and loss we live our lives as best as we can - whether we are 25, 45 or 65.
We’re all part of one big family. Imperfect, with issues and supposed favourite children; but we need each other.
And let's go easy on avocado toast. It's toast. With avocado on top.
Are you a part of the forgotten generation like Jackie? What about millennials and baby boomers frustrates you?