Sometimes, I want to quit. I don’t want to be a grown up. I don’t want to be responsible, motherly or inspirational. I just want to curl up on my couch in my pajamas, put on completely inappropriate television and drink alcohol. And I don’t want to worry that I’m setting a bad example or not being emotionally available or being judged by smallish people who were brainwashed by a health teacher – who had no kids – into believing that any amount of drinking is too much. I mean, I appreciate that the curriculum includes instructions to thoroughly terrify grade school kids about the dangers of alcohol. But seriously, think before you speak. Because whatever they hear at pre-teen age will be completely disregarded when they hit high school anyway. And also, it’s already enough to get the lecture from someone who has been responsible exactly zero days for her own health and well-being, but quite another thing to have to soothe that same near-hysterical child when she becomes convinced I’m going to die of alcohol poisoning (or liver failure) after one Jack on the rocks.
Additionally, I want to get off the ride that includes the slow and unkind breakdown on my physical fitness. Twenty years ago, I didn’t have to worry that imbibing in a single drink may cause acid reflux, stealing all the joy that my friend Jack was offering. I could even enjoy my drink with a cold, day old, left-in-the-box-overnight, possibly licked by a cat, definitely not gluten free, and likely starting to decay, pizza. Not only would I not get food poisoning, I think it actually improved my immunity. Hot sauce, uncomfortably-past-the-sell-by-date milk, questionably browning fruit, none of it even gave me pause. But now, I find myself carving up produce with the skill of a surgeon, feeding blighted flesh to the compost bucket and/or my begging dog(s).
Can we also talk about the fact that curling up on the couch used to be an act that happened without thought? Hanging my head upside down with my feet on the wall behind the couch was a natural state of being for my childhood self. Many an hour was spent in college lounging on a lumpy, uncomfortable, definitely non-hygienic, too small, dumpster dive collected couch, with at least two other people, unnaturally contorted to make room for all. And after three runs of Forest Gump, because either we couldn’t find the remote or the batteries were dead, no one had any aches, pains, or nerve damage. But now, sitting has to be carefully considered. What is the status of my sciatica? Will lying down aggravate the shoulder injury I sustained whilst trying to prove I can do yoga?
And why the hell am I doing yoga? Why have I stopped complaining about the slow, methodical, postures that have always brought with them visions of creepily soft-spoken, zen new-age people that make me super uncomfortable? Why aren’t I kickboxing or punching the heavy bag or lifting weights?
Because I’m concerned about my balance and flexibility, that’s why. Because I’m over 40 and the days of care-free bending and lifting have come and gone. I have to remember to use my legs now. I have to consider the implications of carrying 16 shopping bags in from the car so I can make just one trip. I have to plan now to avoid having a weak or damaged upper body later because that’s why senior women disproportionately end up in wheelchairs. I also now have information in my brain about senior women and wheelchairs.
There are days when being an adult is just too much. Sometimes, I long for the immaturity of a child with the freedom to throw a tantrum. Not like a mom-tantrum where the main theme is yelling at a volume that may cause hoarseness, but a kid tantrum with crying and kicking and punching the ground, the whole bit. Because once you’ve crossed over to adult, you can’t behave in this manner when the liquor store is out of your favorite wine before a blizzard. They don’t call that a tantrum. They call it disturbing the peace and that goes on your permanent record.
Being an adult brings with it the expectation that you won’t tell that bratty kid on the playground that they’re a bratty kid and no one likes them, even if it’s true. You have to wear actual clothes out of the house, not flannel pants with bears on them. You’re expected to eat vegetables. Every day. More than once. You can’t take things from people just because you want it, even if you definitely deserve that Mercedes Benz more than they do because you did NOT tell that badly behaved child that one goes down the slide, not up the slide. Nor did you explain to the child’s parent, in detail, just how badly she was failing as a mother. Hell, you deserve two Mercedes Benzes.
I tried to ease the whole responsible adult thing by making a rule in my house that mom goes off duty at 8 p.m. The kitchen closes up for the night, clean and happy (as is, it’s clean so I’m happy). Homework is done so no one needs to ask me why Marcia has 64 watermelons (I mean, where does one even fit 64 watermelons? Is she a watermelon delivery truck driver? What’s with Marcia and watermelons anyway?) The idea is that I can then sit on the couch. Left alone to my own thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
That rule lasted about six minutes.
Because anything that means anything happens after 8 p.m. All of the most dramatic illnesses, the most elaborate thoughts, the most terrific fears, come to life when mom-butt hits a couch cushion. Even the dogs, just minutes before resting peacefully in their oversized beds, become restless and unruly, wrestling and making an all-around ruckus.
And so there is no quitting. Instead, there is an analgesic and cool washcloth for a 2:34 a.m. fever, a shoulder to cry on for a I-was-just-about-to-climb-into-bed-but-sure-we-can-talk confession, and a google search of “what was the real cause of World War I” for a midnight political debate. I’ve decided parents just don’t sleep. In fact, that should be included in the definition of parent. “One who begets, gives birth to, or nurtures and raises a child,” seems wildly inadequate and dangerously incomplete. What does Merriam-Webster know, anyway?
Regardless, it seems that the menu for the remainder of this particular life includes a full plate of adulthood. Like it or not, I’ll have to contain the volatile child who longs to indulge the id and run around in my Wonder Woman underoos. I’ll pull up my big girl panties, chug all the coffee, and NOT hit the next person who asks me why I look so tired.
If, like me, you sport some pretty hardcore black circles under your eyes (because there’s no “sleep” in parenting), top10homeremedies has a couple of solutions for getting rid of these telltale sign of sleep deprivation. Cucumbers smell too bad but I may give the potato remedy a try.
Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.
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