This probably sounds ridiculous. I am 31 years old for goodness sakes. Lately, though, I have been reminded by something that's snapped me into reality: not only am I 31 years old, I am a grownup. A grownup! I never thought I'd see the day.
It kinda first hit me on New Year's Eve. For goodness sakes, I was leaving my child at home with a babysitter, so I could go out and get all dressed up and drink champagne from a genuine fancy champagne glass. I left the phone number for the place we would be at on the refrigerator. My husband's hand on my knee in the car, telling me I looked beautiful. It was the kinda thing you'd see on TV or seeing your own parents doing. But I was doing it. Again, I might sound ridiculous, but it was all so surreal.
I am pretty sure last year on New Year's I was passed out in bed by 9, barely 7 weeks pregnant. My husband was probably losing track of time in his music room, overcome by nothing than the urge to be creative. In years before, I was likely wearing jeans and drinking champagne from a red solo cup at a friends house. Dancing and kissing my husband after the countdown, but still. I was still marked by youth in a lot of ways.
Things happen in our lives that make us older. Sure, things like getting married and having kids, paying a mortgage. But also, life. Life makes us older. The experiences that shape who you are. Buying a house or having a baby, in some ways, has aged me, matured me, but they aren't the things that made me feel older. Maybe a little. I guess what I am saying is that these days, I feel different. I feel older. I feel grown up.
Perhaps it's the hard times that make us older, wiser? It's likely that going through a child's hospitalization, watching a nurse give him chest compressions, makes one feel older. I am not sure if the world sees me differently or not at this point. Maybe it does. Even if the world doesn't think I look older, act older, give off an air of maturity, I feel different. And in spite of feeling different, in spite of the hard times I've seen, there are times I don't feel up to the task I've been given. Taking care of a child with heart disease is rough. It requires thick skin. It requires someone who can rally through the hard moments, the screaming, to put a feeding tube back into your child after it's come out by mistake. It takes guts to thread a tube down a 5 month old's nose, and it takes guts to pull it out and do it again once you've realized it went into his lungs. It takes a strong person to get up and go to work early in the morning, work a full day, and then go to a doctor's appointment for your child and be 100% present. To remember to ask questions, even the hard ones. To tune out the screaming when you realized it's an hour past feeding time and get the feeding pump ready. To wipe out that sweet baby's eyes that are raw from a blocked tear duct after so many months. To push past the feelings of doubt, that you're not good enough, that you can't handle it. It takes a strong person to come to terms that after all this, you could probably handle anything if you had to.
In spite of this realization that came to me the day I left my baby with a sitter and drank champagne on New Year's Eve, it is not what has made me a grownup. It's everything else. It's the life I've given up of drinking from red solo cups & sleeping in, it's being pushed way past my comfort level and learning to be selfless. It's hard. I am being forced to grow, even at the times I don't want to. The picture perfect life I had in my head of what family life would be is gone, it was all wrong. It's not picture perfect, but this is better. This is who I am now.