Fountain of Youth

Although my bug bitten legs would not agree, Saturday was a nice evening. An old friend came over for dinner. We used to get together so our "babies" could play - mine had bright orange-red yarn hair. Her's had brown yarn. I'm not sure about her's, buy my Cabbage Patch Kid is still around. Meg likes to drag it from place to place by it's ratty looking pig-tails.

We sat chatting in the yard - perhaps we were giddy on the fumes of our non-effective bug spray (although perhaps spreading it on one's legs might lend more protection from said bites then forgetting about one's legs.) It was like old times - times in green heavy canvas tents hung on the wooden frames of Girl Scout camps where we'd huddle with two other giddy girls and giggle under the glow of flashlights.

"You know I'm going to end up having to write this in my blog," I had said. She knew. (Now, you all take a moment to wave to her because she is currently shaking her head at me and laughing as she reads this. Go on. I'll wait. Wave to her.)

It wasn't the evening I wanted to muse on. It was one particular topic of conversation. There we were, two grown women in our early (but inching closer to 'mid') 30s and both of us wondering exactly when it was that we'd feel like grown-ups.

I had expected to feel more grown-up when I got a 'real' job. Nope. I thought maybe when I got married. Nada. Certainly children would make me feel all grown-up. And yet, it hasn't. At least not completely.

Sure, I have adult responsibilities. I have bills. I pay them. I have young charges to keep in one relative piece. I raise them. I have a career. I have a house with a mortgage that has my name on it -- my married name.

And yet, I still don't feel like a "grown-up."

As a kid, grown-ups were "old." They were 30. They were 40. They were my people my parents' age. Here I am now -- my parents' "age", at least what they were when I was a child musing about what constituted grown-up. The funny thing is my perception has changed. Grown-ups are *still* people my parents age, only now that has shifted to '50' or '60.' I am some sort of stuck-in between adult that's not done growing.

It's true, of course, None of us, no matter what the calender says we should be, are ever truly grown-up then. We never stop growing, evolving. . .adapting. We are in a perpetual state of growing-up. This is something I never knew way back then. I expected 'grown-up' to feel so very different than what being "adult" feels like.

There are times, as my friend and I discussed, when we step back and think "Wow, holy crap, I'm an adult." It's not when we're paying bills or settling into our desks in our offices. No. it's when we're standing on fences, glaring at those loud, obnoxious "kids" in the yard behind us and telling them to keep that racket down so some of us could sleep because hell, we have jobs to go to in the morning.

I do feel decidely grown-up when a young new hire giggles about blowing her first ever real paycheck on new designer duds because really, she's still at home with her parents and can afford to go crazy with what seems to be so very much money at that moment. I grin at her and think of how very far that same check wouldn't go if she had a home to finance and children to feed. I feel a bit of envy for her zeal. I also, however, feel a bit smug knowing I have what she does not - that loving group of arms to greet her when she gets home at night - the big ones to hold her up when she needs it and the little ones to bolster her spirits.

I feel rather grown-up, but only briefly, when someone uses the term "your son/your daughter." Or, when someone refers to me as Mrs. [last name], Logan/Megan's Mom, or, better yet, Ma'am. Those grown-up feelings though are only fleeting because in the moment the words fade from the air, their weight fades too.

Sometimes, as that feeling of 'grown-upness" dissipates it leaves behind this sense of being young and over my head - a kid dressing up in her mother's clothes, playing in the make-up bin. I used to like to put on my mother's only remaining vestiage of the 60's. Her knee high, white stretch leather go-go boots with the big chunk heel. I could barely walk in them but I loved to try.

Today, my daughter, all 23 months of her, likes to pull my rarely worn heels from the closet. She pushes her small feet into them - slipping deep down into the leather toes. She stands next to me in the little master bathroom and begs, "Do my eyes please. Color my eyes too!" I use the side of my finger to gently brush across her closed, expectant lids, fooling her into thinking she's all made-up. She smiles. She twirls. "I look like mommy!" she coos and she shuffles off down the hall way in her blue satin and white netted princess tutu pulled up high over her shorts - her pig-tails bobbing up and down as she goes.

And in that moment, she does look like me - the me that's not yet grown-up deep inside. I hope the two of us keep that little girl within us forever.


Nicole said...

Part of what I love about being a parent is the ability to enjoy some of those simple pleasures -- like swings and slides and S'mores -- all over again. I still don't feel grown-up either, and I have the pleasure of working with folks mostly 60+, who grin at me like I'm a kid.

Wordnerd said...

Hey, I'm mid-40's (and inching closer and closer to the right-hand side of that timeline) and I still haven't grown up.

Let me just quote Jimmy Buffett for the second time in a week: "I'm growing older now, not up..." Works for me!

Paige said...

What a beautiful story. I don't think the spirit "grows" up. We keep our childlike wonder for many things. It is the body the frail body that begins to wear out, which in turn will make us slow down. We will have to, after all we must protect the thing that protects our childlike spirit to insure that we last just one more second. Treasure every wonderful moment, let the harder memories fade and ease our souls, allowing more room for the child to thrive.

Chaos Mommy said...

My Cabbage-Patch Kid had bright orange-red hair too!
How wonderful to still have an friend like that. You are truly blessed with a life-long friendship!

J said...

Well said. I know what you mean about the grown up, or not so much, feeling. That's why I sign all my emails with "I turned around one day and all of a sudden I was a grown up."

Still not sure when that happened. The weight of responsibility overshadows the carefree idealism of childhood.