The other night at the dinner table my daughter was talking non-stop, as usual, when she proudly proclaimed through mouthfuls of roast potato that she wants to be just like me when she grows up. After the little swill of pride that tickled my insides had disbursed, I found it a bit of a rude shock. She thinks I’m a grown-up! I looked into her face, so much like my own, and wanted so badly to tell her that I haven’t actually finished growing yet.
I admit I’ve done some grown up things. I got married and had kids (not necessarily in that order), I buy the expensive laundry detergent and know my tax file number by heart. However most of me – perhaps the parts my mini-me doesn’t see – is nowhere near being worthy of the title ‘grown-up’. I still run late in the mornings. I think thongs go with everything. I drink the cheapest wine I can stomach and if I could get away with it would eat cereal every night for dinner.I still don’t know at which point a garment becomes ‘delicate’ and not just cheap. I just decided on a career path. At best, I’m on my way to being a grown-up, but still a ways off.
“I’m still young. At least in my mind. It seems every year I look back on who I was the year prior and cringe a little bit.”
I don’t know if it’s exclusively the domain of younger parents (I was 23 when I had my first), to feel as if you’ve merely adopted the role of a parent, like a kid playing dress-ups. But I have to tell you, I’ve been winging it in the act-like-a-grown-up department for almost six years now, and that’s just how it feels. It seems every time one of my kids reaches a new milestone, I reach one too. When my daughter first breastfed successfully I began to appreciate my body for what it could do, rather than what it looked like (revelation!). I graduated around the same time my son toilet trained. We replaced the outdoor setting in the kitchen with proper furniture after our kids were born. Surely, all things most people take care of prior to becoming a parent.
But I was young. I’m still young. At least in my mind. It seems every year I look back on who I was the year prior and cringe a little bit. ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I thought that!’ ‘Why was I hanging around that person?’ ‘Why did I worry about that so much?’ This is especially frightening as a parent because that cringe-worthy person is the one who’s been raising your kids this whole time, and now you have to deal with the repercussions. It might explain the behaviour of a three year old who hides biscuits around the house to find and eat them whenever he likes, and throws blocks at people’s heads to get their attention. Honestly, someone should teach that kid a lesson. Not me, obviously. But I’ll be here waiting when a real grown-up comes along to do it.