Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adulthood: The Final Frontier

I'm not a big fan of being a grown-up. Granted, when I was a kid, I thought being a grown-up would be the best thing EVER! I could drive, I could stay up as late as I wanted, I could eat whatever I all looked good to me! Being an adult is kind of like going to Disney World: the build-up is incredible and the anticipation factor is breathtaking, but once you arrive, there's just too much to do and see and not enough time to truly enjoy any of it. Growing up is NOT like Disney World in that I have never been hugged by a life size rodent wearing white gloves...unless you count my husband and technically he wasn't wearing white gloves...
Alas I find myself spiraling into a pre-mid-life crisis situation. No, no, no, not the kind where you buy a sports car, start doing jazzercise and begin to shop at Limited Too for your own clothing. I'm talking about the kind where you look back at some of the choices you've made, or the choices you let others force upon you and say "See, there, that's where it all went to pot!" If only I had not gone to college right out of high school... If only I'd driven around the country writing poetry and playing the guitar, working when I had to...If only blah, blah, blah.
I think you get to a point in your adult life when you finally understand why George Bailey was climbing over the rail of the bridge and running all over Bedford Falls in the snow. We all have big dreams, big goals and it's kind of strange to me that as we get bigger and take up more space in the universe, or dreams tend to become smaller and take up less space inside of us, kind of a reciprocal fade as it were. George Bailey's dream had been so big, yet his life in actuality compared to his dream of past days, was small and getting smaller everyday. I never ceased to be amazed by the truths that emerge as you get to know people. You find out that the lady answering the phone at the corporate office dreams of opening a coffee house and book shop and selling her amazing homemade cookies. You find out that the kid carrying out your groceries plays the guitar like a demon and is saving up money to move to Nashville and try to get some gigs. You find these things out about people and it's a double-edged sword: excitement that you are not the only dreamer left and bittersweet remorse and a bit of jealousy as you contemplate the possibility of those dreamers becoming doers and you remaining a "didn't-quite-make-it."
Growing up, the cure for nothing it seems. And it would be awfully easy to simply withdraw from life. But then there are the huge things in our tiny lives, like our children and our causes and our different faiths. You'll discover, as I am discovering now, that the amazing thing about dreams and life is that they are both malleable and have a tendency to stretch to whatever form must be contained within them. I was never reminded more of this than I was this evening. As I went to put Kyser to bed, I took a good look at my little/huge dream and noticed that his eyes are turning green. "Kyser, your eyes are turning green!"
He looked up at me with a frown. "Do I have to go to the doctor?" I told him no, I figured his eyes would change colors, I just thought it would happen when he was a baby.
"I'm growing up! I'm growing up!" I no longer question the 6-year-old logic that he utilizes to apply everyday happenings to his universe. "Yup, you're growing up!" I said and turned around before he could see the tears forming.
About twenty minutes later, I hear him in his bedroom just wailing and sobbing. I ran back to his bedroom and sure enough he lay on his bed, holding on to Sock Monkey, and just bawling. "Are you okay? Does something hurt? Did something scare you?"
"Mama, mama, mama," he wailed. "I don't want to grow up, I don't want to get old." I held my breath waiting for him to say he didn't want to move out, seeing as how I've already got plans for a fabulous craft/hobby room in that space.
"Baby, you aren't going to grow up for a long time, you've still got a lot of years left before you're grown up."
"But someday I'm going to grow up and my eyes are already green and I'm already bigger than my shoes," he blubbered.
"Well, those things are true," I said. "But growing up isn't all bad, you can still have fun!"
"You mean I can still play with toys and eat candy and lay around and watch TV all day?"
"Is that what you think grown ups do?" I asked.
"That's what Daddy does on Saturday..." he looked up at me with his blue/green eyes.
"Yeah, that's what grown ups do..." I affirmed his belief and he quieted down and slowly faded to sleep as I walked out of the room. That's the one out, the one loophole, fate's little deal breaker - Saturday is Daddy Day and ain't no grown ups in the room!

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