I might be living in a time machine. Or at least that’s how I feel when talking to my American friends. When they complain how harder they have it than their boomer parents did, I’d never trade places with mine. When they speculate about how people used to live in the good old days, I still have firsthand witnesses to tell me how it really was.
Totally agree with the overall point of your essay, but I think it’s hard to understand what’s going on in America without having lived here for many decades. Ofc I know it can seem wild to Europeans who follow Americans online. America is going through a really rough time and it looks crazy from the outside esp since we export our culture so heavily! It’s personally heartbreaking being an American and watching an unprecedented epidemic of mental health problems here. A lot of us are losing family members young to addiction. I really do long for a time before the heroin epidemic and school shootings, but also realize that was a time with less gay rights and less civil rights for black Americans. It’s complicated. My grandfather lost his sister to influenza, I lost my brother to heroin. Different times, different problems. Although I still feel lucky overall to be here.
My perspective on childbirth is that we aren’t returning to work in America a few weeks after giving birth because our value system is messed up, it’s because we fear we’ll be fired if we don’t. There aren’t great labor protections for pregnant women here currently. I’d recommend the book “birth strike” if you’re interested in US vs European policy around pregnancy. US government/corporations want Americans to have more kids for the economy, but want to push all the costs and work of doing so on to individuals.
Included this post in a weekly roundup I do called Five Cool Things. Enjoying your writing as of late!
The past can only be understood backwards...
Watching from afar, the American way of living seems to care much more about the economy than about quality of life. I’d much rather live in a small apartment and drive the cheapest car than return to work a few weeks after giving birth - Not having kids myself but very much resonate with this perspective. I really like your writing :)