Role Reversal

Adults...not grown ups

“Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world.” ~Walt Disney

According to the law, I’ve been an adult for nearly 26 years. Why does that not seem possible? It should. I’ve gotten my degrees, we own a home, we have had 16 wedding anniversaries, and our oldest son will be 11 soon. Yet, somehow, my brain lives on an alternate plane where no matter how old I get, no matter the responsibilities I manage, no matter what my reality is I’m still not grown up. There are times when I’m standing at a rental car counter and I’m flabbergasted that they are going to give me a car. I almost look around to see if I’m going to get away with it. Or sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a parent/teacher conference and it will almost be an out-of-body experience. I’ll wonder what I’m doing there. It’s like the plaque I have in my kitchen: “Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?” When the hell did I get so old?

Although time keeps marching on despite my attempts to turn the clock back, I suppose there are benefits to getting older. When we were in college, we could buy alcohol but we couldn’t afford anything decent to drink. We might not have had to pay all our own bills, but at the end of the school we had to go home and live under someone else’s roof with someone else’s rules. We cared too much about what our friends thought of us and not enough about what we thought of ourselves. We looked good in our own skin, but didn’t feel comfortable in it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to relax a bit. I no longer care all that much if people don’t like me or if they think I’m silly or childish. I no longer buy into the idea that an adult should act with decorum 100% of the time. What I find amusing, though, is that just as I am beginning to let go and to live a little, my children are buying into the idea of growing up and acting accordingly.

Last night, we had an intimate wine tasting dinner at our house with a few friends. I have to admit that I felt fairly adult picking out the wines and planning the meal. We cooked gourmet pizzas and had port and chocolates for dessert. Somewhere between the first and fifth bottle of wine that the six of us shared, though, we got a little loud and started having way more fun than our kids thought we should. Truth is, we sort of forgot that our 8 and 10 year old sons were upstairs quietly watching movies. Well into dessert and conversation I heard the tell-tale ping of a text message on my phone. It was from Joe who was upstairs texting me from his iPad.

“Mom…your friends should leave soon. It is 11:00.”

Crap. It’s 11 o’clock? Where had the evening gone? Ping. Another text.

“Very late, Mom.”

Oh okay, okay. Fine. I texted him back.

“We’ll be upstairs in a minute. Brush your teeth and get into bed.”

“We already are. We are very tired. You need to tell your friends to go home.”

I stalled a while, but eventually went up to check on them. Luke was already asleep. Joe was the lone holdout. He looked exhausted and annoyed. He told me that he wanted our friends to be gone no later than midnight.

Geez. Mr. Bossypants. Way to ruin the fun. By the time Andrew and Heather left it was around 12:30 and both boys were, thankfully, asleep. We’d managed to spend five hours in our own house entertaining friends without non-stop requests or care giving. It felt borderline miraculous.

This morning Joe gave us a hard time about our behavior last night. He said we were way too loud and laughing non-stop. He questioned the number of bottles we had gone through. He told us they could barely hear their movie and that we kept them awake. I had to wonder when our roles had been reversed. We spend our entire youth trying to figure out how to be responsible adults and then we spend our adulthood trying to regain our lost sense of youth. Funny the way it is.



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