“I feel like such a grown-up,” these are the words I said to my teenage daughter when we were in the car yesterday. She looked at me the way you would expect a teenager to look at her mom who has just randomly announced a very strange thing into the space between.
She didn’t say anything, but I bet she was thinking something along the lines of, “Well, that’s good,” or “It’s about time,” or maybe even a little, “Duh.”
All of those responses would have been perfectly appropriate because, in her world, I have always been the grown-up. I have nursed her and rocked her and cleaned and kissed her boo-boos after a fall. I have held her hand and walked her through the doors into her kindergarten classroom. I have driven her to and from countless places, made her dinner, and tucked her in after bedtime prayer. I have asked about school and friendship and how she feels about both the big and small things happening in her world.
Well, here is the thing she has yet to learn but will discover: Just because we grow up, that doesn’t mean we always feel so grown-up.
When we are young, we assume adults have the answers. They know how to get stuff done. They go to work and pay the bills and get the groceries and make the food. Sure, they may not know all about current pop culture or have the technological know-how, but they generally know what they’re doing in the world.
And yes, that may be true. But there is still that kid inside of us. There is still the wonder and the joy and the desire to get out there and do something exciting. Maybe we can’t help but turn up the music and crank down the window and dance a little bit when our favorite song from our youth is coming from the car speakers. Or maybe we get excited when we see a movie we love and haven’t seen in who knows how long show up on Netflix. Maybe we like to ride our bikes or put on an old pair of rollerskates or even turn a cartwheel or two (this one isn’t me, but you know who you are and I commend you for it!).
Our outside changes, but our inside still feels young sometimes, doesn’t it? And that’s kind of a strange thing. When I look in the mirror, I see a woman in her mid-40s, but sometimes, when I’m driving down the road, I feel the me of my youth. She’s there.
But, lately, I haven’t been feeling that as much. I realized the other day that I have been getting a little lost in all the grown-up things of the world. My life has felt a little heavier. It’s been a lot of appointments and meal prep and figuring out this and that. It’s been worrying about finances and paying the bills and wondering when our new insurance is going to kick in.
I was feeling the weight of all of this when I was in the car with my daughter as my mind rushed from one to-do to the next. I feel like such a grown-up.
And there isn’t anything wrong with feeling like a grown-up. That is what I am after all. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to lose that child within. I don’t want to get so lost in my daily need-to-dos and must-dos and have-tos that I stop blaring music and dancing in the car. I don’t want to stop rollerskating or getting excited about old cheesy movies or laughing too loud and not acting my age. I want my kids to see that yes, I may be a grown-up who gets things done, but I know how to have fun too.
Because even though I’m grown up, all the stages of my life live inside me. And, frankly, sometimes all this grown-upping we have to do can be a bit exhausting. So this week, I vow to turn the music up a little louder, laugh a little more, and let go of some of the things I need to let go of so I can find the joy that exists in the day.
Instead of saying, “I feel like such a grown-up,” this week, I’m going to roll down the windows, turn up the music, and yell out the window, “I feel like such a kid again.” It may elicit some eye rolls from my teenagers, but someday, they will know exactly what I’m talking about.