The summer cold took up residence in my house for about two weeks. My four-year-old, Dillon, got it first-- complete with fevers, aches and the whole bit. Then, in the spirit of sharing, he passed it on to his baby brother, Blake, and to me. On the worst day, my mom offered to let Dillon spend a couple of days at her house so I could take care of myself and Blake. On the morning mom was scheduled to bring Dillon home, Blake and I were feeling much better. I pulled the ExerSaucer to the front porch and filled the tray with Cheerios. I grabbed my coffee and sat down in the rocking chair. Pure bliss. Coffee and the front porch. A happy baby. Simple pleasures that remind me no matter how hard I work, no matter how diligently I strive for success, I already have the things that truly matter to me. I didn't arrive at this place by accident, or by luck. It has been a long journey. But for the most part, the happiness I've found comes from opening my eyes and seeing what's already there.
When mom arrived with Dillon, she didn't stay long. We had a nice, quick chat while she cuddled with Blake. As she was pulling out the driveway, I stepped out on the porch to pull the ExerSaucer back inside. I looked up and gave her a wave. She smiled and waved back. I felt my heart flutter-- a feeling I've come to recognize. The part of me that's still a little girl. The part of me that still misses my mom when she goes. The part of me that still seeks her approval. The part of me that wants her to be proud.
I know she approves. I know she's proud. And perhaps that's why I also had another feeling. Standing on the porch of my own house, collecting my coffee cup and baby toy-- I had a feeling of being "a grown-up."
I just finished reading The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, and I know that's why the moment was so pronounced for me. In her bestselling memoir, Corrigan describes the "middle place" as the "sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap."
My mom lost her parents when she was in her 30's. The age that I am now. My mom and I are only 18 years apart, so I remember my grandparent's passing vividly. Their deaths blindsided us-- their sickness came on suddenly and took them both quickly. And I still remember, after both of them were gone, my mom mentioning how lonely it felt to no longer have parents.
Some people lose their parents very early in life, while some have the opportunity to grow into old age along side them. Either way, being someone's child, and the relationship we have with our parents can have a significant effect on our ability to see ourselves as "grown-ups." Some feel thrust into adulthood, while others tend to linger in both worlds. I think that's how it is for me. I linger.
I'm a responsible person. I've experienced things that may have caused me to grow up more quickly than some. But there are so many times I still feel like a child. And as I watched my mom pull out the driveway, I realized I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being "grown" and "child-like" at the same time.
So what about you? Are you still living in the middle place? Do you feel like a "grown-up?" And if so, when or what caused the shift?