When Grown Up Sh#t Starts Getting Real.
It’s funny, the things that make you realize the stage that you are at in your life. On any given day, I oscillate between feeling like a semi-responsible 15 year old babysitter, a 20-something slacker, a crotchety 90 year old woman and, for fleeting moments in between, a 39 year old wife and mother of 2 driving a car with 3 rows through the suburban streets of Westport, CT.
Then, a random cluster of events happen (the least significant of said events being the one that actually happened to you personally) and you realize- holy f#ck, I AM A GROWN UP.
We will start with the littlest thing- I broke my toe yesterday. To make this injury (my first ever broken bone) even more pathetic, said toe is my pinky toe. And I cried like a freaking baby all the way to the ER. Now I have crutches that I can’t figure out how to use, but on the bright side, Item #1 on Alexa’s holiday wish list has been procured, courtesy of my health insurance. Attempting to corral my kids, clean the house, and carry stuff is a slow and ungraceful process, and for some reason feels like a scary foreshadow of the ailments to come with aging down the road…
But the real stuff is much more, well, real. You know those things that you remember hearing happening to adults when you were just a kid, and they felt so far away- until they aren’t.
Last night, I found out that a family friend I grew up with passed away- a guy with young kids… Growing up, I knew kids in my classes who had a parent die- these are those things that even 30 years later, you remember vividly. Or at least, I do. It was gut wrenching, but in a different way than it is now. Then, the sadness was from the perspective of the child- for the hole in the home, the empty seat at school events, that kind of a thing. Now, the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach is all about the parent- the things they will never get to see, it just feels so unimaginable to miss milestones. And, all I think about in these kinds of situations- when the prognosis is inevitable, and the parent knows his or her days are numbered- where does one even BEGIN?! How hard it has to be to look at your child and know you won’t see them go to prom, or drop them off at college, or walk them down the aisle at their wedding, or meet their kids? It makes me hyperventilate just typing about it…
That realization that the funeral you are attending is for a peer, and not the parent of a peer…
Friends of mine are getting mastectomies, battling cancer, upending their lives to care for an ailing parent (again, that generational time marker- it’s the parent, not the grandparent…)
Confession: I used to kinda think that whole “at least I have my health” line was cliche… Or, maybe insincere… Six words spoken at the end of a venting rant to make the ranter appear to have his or her priorities in line. Day by day, as time marches on and sh#t happens that was only supposed to happen to grown ups, those words begin to gain a mantra-like status.
As time barrels us at warp speed into Thanksgiving- feeling grateful but also feeling frantic, wanting to be present but also wanting to take a nap, hoping everything is perfect but also knowing it won’t be- my plan is to try and embrace the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with being a grown up throughout the holiday season. A hostess with guests to care for, a mom with kids to wrap presents for, and an adult with dishes to wash (and wash again, and then wash one more time). Because the alternative is grim, isn’t it?