Tag Archives: childhood

The Reality of Adulthood Doesn’t Live Up to Childhood Dreams

I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up, when I could do whatever I wanted. The future was a blank page, waiting for me to fill it with dreams, goals, and, more importantly, my own set of rules. I couldn’t wait to be my own boss and not have someone telling me to eat that despicable broccoli. The only way that tree with its overcooked stalk was going down was if I smothered it in cheese. As a grown-up? I wouldn’t even put it on my plate. Forget that, I didn’t even have to buy it.

My kids and I have the same battles: I tire of repeating myself. The kids act like I don’t know anything. Oh, I know a thing or two.

Then. When I was a kid, being a grown-up looked so cool. Grown-ups can wear whatever they want. No one raises their eyebrows when your shorts inch higher every year. No one makes you zip your coat when it’s cold out. You don’t have to hide the fact that you’re wearing eye shadow without permission because all the other seventh-grade girls’ eyelids and capris share the same pastel colors.

Now. I could wear whatever I want, but “mom clothes” was coined for a reason. Plunging necklines mean kids get a sneak peek at mom’s bra, a thickly padded curiosity.

Then. Having to go to bed when everyone else was still up just wasn’t fair. I could hear dishes clattering, voices chattering, and my God, the TV! What did they do at night, throw a party? Adults could do anything. Stuck in my twin bed with only a teddy bear as company, I dreamed of the day I could stay up all night. I would never be tired.

Now. I wish I were the one being read a story and tucked in every night, but clothes need to be washed and dried. Permission slips need to be signed. I fall onto the couch in exhaustion and just hope I can make it through one favorite TV show. Not exactly the all-nighters I dreamed about.

Then. I could fill my future with catalog dreams. I’d buy whatever I wanted: the coolest toys, the fastest car, a thousand Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.

Now.The coolest toys happen to be a vacuum that works and an immersion blender. A van covered in crumbs and goo gets me here and there. And savings in the bank means more than any collection.

green food, yikes

Who put this green stuff in my food?

Then. Meat loaf, pork chops, green beans, peas. Blech. Why couldn’t we just eat ice cream and potato chips and brownies for dinner anyway? I swore I’d never, ever make meat loaf.

Now. Guess what? I make meat loaf. My kids hate it. It’s the circle of life or something. I even like mushrooms and avocado and other slimy things I gagged at as a child. My six-year-old self is watching and sticking out her tongue. Traitor.

Little did I know then that when you become a grown-up, you sometimes like vegetables. You pay for all that junk food with something called indigestion. Those clothes your mom wouldn’t let you wear? You gain the sense that no respectable girl would wear them. Staying up late? All day all you want to do is go to sleep for lack of energy. Little did I know when I was a kid that I had it good then.

My kids often say, “I don’t care.” They don’t care that they’ll be tired in the morning. They don’t care that vegetables will make them big and strong. They don’t care what anything costs because Christmas or grandparents will come soon enough. They don’t care that they’ll be cold when it’s 40 degrees out and they insisted on wearing shorts to school.

Some things need to be learned the hard way. I smile. I remember the way I saw the world too. And I know one day, they’ll see it the way I do.

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Awakened: Reliving My Childhood

The moment my kids began to explore their surroundings, I began to see the world clearly. Like seeing through much-needed eyeglasses for the first time or a dirty window wiped clean, my view finally came into focus.

Maybe I just hadn’t noticed the details in all the years since I was the young one running around barefoot chasing fireflies, sifting dirt between outstretched fingers in search of writhing earthworms, or staring in wonder at a line of ants marching like soldiers across the driveway.

Maybe as a child I never saw baby birds learn to fly. Witnessing this as an adult, I sat in the same wide-eyed wonder as my kids watching fluffy black pom-poms bounce through the grass, chirping at their mother. One by one, they flapped their wings and took off to the branch above. I couldn’t help but wonder if I were a child with no mother making me watch, would I? Were there better things to do? Is this why I missed so much as a child?

I take my time now, no rushing about. Before I had kids, I didn’t know much about outer space. No one asked me about Mars and evidence of water there, so I didn’t need to know. Now my spirit fills with wonder in a slightly different way than my son’s must when he looks at the sky and wonders whether spaceships full of Stormtroopers dart overhead.

A snail edges along a crack in our driveway and my husband could tell me for the tenth time to come in for the night. This creature hefts its top-heavy spiral shell to the side to make great strides, grasping bits of straw with its foot. I could watch it all night.land snail

A snow day from work used to mean housework, maybe a movie. Now it means bundling up in triple layers and heading outside before caffeine pulses through blood, our breath a blanket of fog as we pull sleds down the path looking for signs of deer. We make the first footprints in silvery snow that is like a fresh sheet of paper, ours to write the story of our day. I make sure to take turns on the sled too. The kids can’t have all the fun. I’m pretty sure I scream the loudest, slide the farthest.

I wedge myself in too-tight spots like a crayfish under a rock because hide-and-seek has tough rules in this house. On the field, I throw like Tim Tebow half the time, but the other half I am Drew Brees, throwing spirals 30 yards to a four-foot receiver who always makes it to the end zone.

Storytime started as a way to read to the kids but I look forward to it with such anticipation that I am the child most of the time, hearing books I never cared about when I was younger. Oh, I love that Laura Ingalls. And Bilbo Baggins, why did I shun you?

I don’t remember seeing the world through a child’s eyes all those years ago. I was so focused then on everything but. Having children to show the world to has opened up a universe of excitement, beauty, and joy to me that melted away during my 9-to-5 days sitting behind a desk.

Now that I have kids, I have an excuse to enjoy my childhood again. It’s like staying up late with your best friend, sneaking Skittles from the candy jar, and telling secrets about your brother—the best time of your life.

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