“I Can’t Wait To Be An Adult So I Can Do Whatever I Want.”
As a kid, I envisioned adulthood as a kind of nirvana – a place where I could go to bed and wake up when I wanted, eat what/when/where I wanted, do what/when/where I wanted. It would be an awesome, happy place of complete freedom. No one to tell me what to do!
As mother of a 13 and “In 2 weeks I’ll be 12” year old, I now hear this phrase from my children.
As an actual, card-carrying, certified, dear-God-I’m-40-years-old adult, I still hope to one day to become that adult who can do whatever/whenever/wherever person I dreamed of so many years ago. Sure, I could now, “theoretically” do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, but it comes with strings:
If I eat/drink whatever I want, because I’m now an adult…
* My metabolism has slowed down. Thus, I have to watch my calories or I watch my butt get bigger. I also have to watch cholesterol, trans fats, and a myriad of other things for health reasons.
* My digestive system just isn’t what it used to be. Seems like everything (and I truly mean everything) gives me heart burn, acid indigestion, or an upset stomach of some type. Antacids are my friend and constant companion.
* Caffeine is my friend. Until it isn’t. This means I have to stop drinking caffeinated beverages by 3:00pm every day, or else I won’t sleep that night.
* Alcohol is not my friend. Sure, I’ll enjoy a rare glass of wine or maybe an occasional bottle of Woodchuck, but, at my age, I have no desire whatsoever to have a night of stupidity that I don’t remember, nor do I wish to endure the agony that is the hangover.
If I go to bed and wake up whenever I want, because I’m now an adult…
* As a teen, I’d stay up all night watching cheesy old movies until 2 in the morning (it was before satellite TV, when we only had 3 channels), then sleep until noon the next day because I had no responsibilities. Now, I have responsibilities; big, sometimes scary, adult responsibilities. If I stay up too late, I won’t get enough sleep or worse, I’ll miss the alarm entirely. If that happens, I could lose my job. No job = no money. No money = well, a whole lot of bad stuff would happen.
* If I don’t get up in the mornings, the kids don’t make it to school fed, dressed appropriately, with all homework/textbooks/lunch, or ready for their day.
* As the Adult Parent, it’s my job to make sure they get to AND from where THEY need to be. This includes school, practice, doctor’s appointments, dental cleanings, haircuts, sleepovers, academic team meets, a plethora of sports games/events/tournaments, shopping for that “perfect” pair of jeans, picking up a gift for a birthday party, the actual birthday parties… you get the picture.
If I do whatever/whenever I want, because I’m now an adult…
* The world would spontaneously combust. Just kidding, but you never know…
* As an adult, I’m inundated with responsibilities: Marriage, kids, work, home, etc. These items dictate my time and resources. I am required to be in specific places at specific times in specific states of lucidity and dressed in an appropriate, specific manner.
Adulthood requires a lot of concessions. If you want to live on your own, you have to have the essentials of life: Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, etc. To have these things, you must make decisions as to what level of each you desire. To make those things happen, you have to find a way to support yourself. This usually entails a job. Sure, we’d all love to be freelance (insert dream job here)s and earn a bajillion dollars whilst living a life of complete freedom, but only a handful of us actually achieve that dream. Those who do are rarely truly financially secure. The majority of the world has a job. We all have bills. This is reality. Reality sometimes sucks.
And then you find someone who you think you might actually love. You get married. You buy a house. You both work on your now-two-of-you adult life and its responsibilities. You have kids and the responsibilities multiply tenfold. It’s a never-ending circle.
And then, one day, you look into the eyes of your child and you realize you won’t be on this earth forever. You realize material things are just THINGS. You realize that you like to wake up early to enjoy a spectacular sunrise, even if this means going to bed early the night before. You remember that day you were so down and someone smiled or said a kind word that lifted you up. You think of your grandmother and wish you could go back and talk to her just one more time.
You grow up.
True adulthood doesn’t mean we get to do whatever/whenever. It means we not only have the means to support ourselves and our families; we also realize we’re not the center of the universe. It’s not about us. Growing up means you realize you’re put on this earth to help others. Whether it’s financially, emotionally, spiritually, or physically, we’re here to help our fellow humans. To make someone smile. To lend a helping hand. To put a hand out to help someone up. To teach your children to be responsible and ready for the world. To say an encouraging word that brightens someone’s day. To be the shoulder someone cries on. Just to be there for someone else in the best capacity you can manage.
When this life is over, I won’t take any material things with me. The most important things I’ll leave behind won’t be things at all. I’ll leave behind family and friends and memories of laughter, smiles, achievements, holidays, adventures, and even tears. In my “free” time, I choose to make as many of those moments as possible.
As adults, we take our responsibilities seriously because Life is a serious business. But there are moments when the sun is rising, when our children’s laughter rings through the air, when we look into the eyes of our life partners to see love, when we are filled with pride at the achievement of another, that we are truly… free.