Raising children reminds you, at times, of your own childhood. You see your kids floating along in their own little bubbles of reality — blissfully unaware of the great big world just waiting to overtake them in a tsunami of endless worry, doubt, guilt, fear and every other swampy emotion that seems specially packaged for adulthood — and remember what it felt like to lose yourself for hours in some invented world of plastic characters, curling leaves, tiny pebbles, who knows what.
Now we have less than 7.4 minutes at any given time to focus on a particular task, thought or emotion before the next one plows into the cerebral station, demanding attention. Which isn’t helped in the least by technology that has shaped the cultural world to fit that perfect snippet of availability, training us to never stand still cognitively.
But I, like my brain, digress. Raising kids makes you think about growing up. As you watch them dressing up Barbies or smashing down virtual enemies, imagining their own glam, top-of-the-world futures, you realize how much you didn’t know when you were in their adorable shoes. Though these may not all be the ones I’d choose to go back and tell my small self, given the chance, here are a few things I never knew back then …
- You can be happy in your life even if you don’t become a movie star or rock god. (But you’ll still wonder if it’s not too late to make it happen.)
- You reach a terrible tipping point where weddings and baby showers give way to funerals.
- You can stay up all night reading a great book without getting yelled at. (Unless you fall asleep at your desk the next day.)
- The things you spend 20 or 30 or even 40 years obsessing over about your physical appearance are really never going to change.
- You have to work really hard to earn money. But you get to spend it any way you want. (See #4)
- Divorce, cancer, people you love dying way too young: heartbreak will happen to you. But the hands you hold will hold yours back and help you survive each wave of tragedy.
- The music that first rocked your world and touched your soul will always make you feel that good.
- No matter how old you get, you will sometimes feel like a pimply teenager left out by the cool kids all over again.
- You’re allowed to feel beautiful, awesome or special, even when no one’s looking.
- You will get wider, slower, more forgetful and less adaptable. But if you keep your sense of humor, it won’t matter so much.
The well-kept secret of adulthood is that sometimes you’ll be so horrified, enraged, bored or disgusted by your life, you’ll want to pay someone to drive you to a distant state and leave you there with five bucks and a fake I.D. But sometimes you’ll be so floored by the beauty, passion, hilarity and outright splendor of it, you’ll scarcely believe it’s not a dream. The fact that these instances can occur within five minutes of each other is what makes it such an interesting escapade.
What have you been most surprised by as a grown-up? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.
This is an original post for Jersey Mom Blog.