I don't know if I've ever felt completely grown up. Until about now.
As the baby in my family, I felt loved as a child, but I think I had more confidence in myself than my siblings or parents ever did. They absolutely raised me to be independent and self-reliant, but I never felt like I could catch up in their eyes to my older siblings with degrees or accomplishments or analytical thinking. With a bunch of lawyers and doctors in the family, it was a good and high bar.
When I married, I half wondered if I'd wake up to find I was playing house. When the babies came, I thought I would begin to feel like I knew what I was doing instead of figuring it out as I went along.
My guileless outlook was probably a good one for me. I think it rolled me through some bumps. And I know it helped me squeeze ingenuous joy out of lots of crazy moments.
Anyway, when I left my son and daughter in law and new grandson after spending a month in Scotland and headed back to Texas, I'm pretty sure I felt more grown up than I ever have.
It's not the traveling part. I've traveled alone since I was a child and my mother put me on the bus to visit my grandmother on the Gulf Coast. I did the study-in-Europe and backpack-for-the-summer deal when I was in college. I toted my toddlers and teens all over the U.K. and Italy and even the Galapagos.
I've done a lot of "grown up" stuff. But my feelings are just catching up in my 50s. I'm only beginning to feel grown up now.
Best as I can figure, it's because of 2 things.
First, I'm at that point where I am beginning to look back on the first half of my life and see my loved ones going through the rites of passage that I have already made it through. I understand where they are. I've been there. I know something of what it feels like.
And second, I'm able to help. I'm not just watching. It's as if I'm standing on the shoulders of my younger self helping hoist those behind me through the passages I have come through.
Ten, fifteen years ago, younger moms would ask if they could come over for a day and see how I wrangled 8 kids, home schooled, helped run our business, and at least a few nights a week, have a sit down dinner. I was uncomfortable because all I saw were my shortcomings. We had solid, grounding principles, but the application needed continual adjusting for our family, as it does for every family.
At this point in my life, I have enough in the rear view mirror to have a boatload of illustrative experiences to offer up. And it’s mostly hindsight, which is a real advantage.
I'm certainly continuing to grow up as an individual, a woman, a wife, and a mom at 51. But I think the balance shifting toward the amount of life behind me and my ability to use that for the benefit of those coming up on my heels gives me that grownup edge I've been waiting for.
Just to be clear, I don’t feel completely grown up. Not sure I ever will. But I’m good with that, too. I’d like to keep a youthful edge. (wink)