"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Being an Adult

I would like to know when the turning point is.  You know?  The moment you actually become an adult.  I don't think it's when you turn 21.  And I don't think it's when you get married.  I don't think it's when you have children, either.  Because I know plenty of people who think parenting is a second job. 

I'm not sure when it happened to me.  I don't know what day I became an adult.  I think it happened gradually.  But suddenly I woke up and realized that I was putting my children's needs in front of my own.  Is that a normal mom trait?  But something has definitely changed.  I automatically think of my children when I make any kind of decision now.  The carefree, "crazy", spontaneous person I once was is long gone.  I see glimpses of her now and then, but the person I see in the mirror has witnessed things that have forever changed me.  And there is no going back. 

As I child, I longed to be an adult because of the freedom.  Yes, I said that right.  The FREEDOM.  I wanted no rules and to be able to do as I pleased.  I wanted to travel the world.  Funny--I don't take my kids farther than Omaha. 

I remember in college staying out until the wee morning hours and worrying about things like getting good grades and meeting "the man of my dreams."  I actually cried when I got my first B at the end of a semester.  Lord, if I could return to those days...

I've been taking care of a four year old with a 103 fever all day.  My son has been clingy, weak, and alternating been cuddly and frustrated all day.  There is nothing like fear and worry to make you take stock of what is important.  Health and Life.  They are oh, so precious. 

When you are a child, you don't realize how painful adulthood is going to be.  You don't realize just how many people that you love and care about are going to have to deal with things that are impossibly difficult.

A friend of mine lost a child to a heart defect.

Another has a child fighting cancer. 

Yet another lost a child to an unbilical cord accident--her baby had a heartbeat one day and the next day her baby was gone. 

And another friend had a baby with acrania (a birth defect where the skull doesn't develop correctly)-- my friend knew during pregnancy that her daughter would not survive outside the womb, yet she chose to carry her to term anyway for the chance to hold her daughter for a few moments. 

Two of my friends have children with cerebral palsy. 

And the number of my friends who have kids with autism?  Grows daily.

What makes someone an adult?  Is it compassion?  Is it being able to handle suffering and pain with grace?  Is it the outward appearance of strength when what you really want to do is fall apart?  Is it being able to multitask like a queen?  Is it juggling IEP meetings and packing lunches and keeping track of ABA schedules and getting the kids to school on time and somehow--SOMEHOW finding time to take a shower?  Because I guarantee you--every single one of my friends deserve a medal. 

I miss the carefree days.  I'm not going to lie.  I miss sleeping in and being able to drive to Denver on a whim.  But I wouldn't trade my kids for the world.  Not even when they are sick and vomiting all over me.  Even on the worst days, my sons reach up their little arms and want hugs.  They still call me "Mommy," which is the best title I've ever had.  I still get the privilege of being the most important person in their world--for at least a few more years.  I'm the one who makes "owies" go away with kisses, the one who chases away the boogieman at night, and the one who can comfort them when they are sick. 

I guess being an adult isn't so bad...

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