One of the best parts of being a parent is having the chance to relive our childhoods through the eyes of our little ones. Watching them get excited over the simplest things – a much-loved storybook, a sugary swirl of cotton candy, or endless hours jumping through the spray of a sprinkler – it’s like a second chance at being a kid. It fills our hearts with such joy we think they might explode from happiness and we can’t help but get a little nostalgic for those carefree days of childhood.
But then the weekend ends and reality comes a-knockin’. Life feels like it’s all bills and alarm clocks and getting to work on time and discipline and saying no. When was the last time we got a summer vacation, right? How come we can’t go to bed at 8 p.m.? (okay, so the kids don’t actually like that – but someday they’ll realize how glorious that is.) We want to take a flying, whooping leap into a swimming pool on a hot summer day too instead of sitting in an office or tackling a mile-long to-do list.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of “adulting” and everything that comes with it. I’m staring down the barrel of another birthday this week – 30…something – and it’s not nearly the cake-fueled fun-fest it used to be when I was a kid. Imagine that! As I step yet another year further from my birth, I felt like I needed a little pick-me-up reminder about why being an adult isn’t all remembering to floss and worrying about fiber. Kids may have it made but here are 5 reasons why it’s great to be a grown up!
1. Eating all the things anytime we want.
Okay, so part of being a grown up is making healthy food choices for ourselves and our families most of the time. But, in exchange for our good food behavior (oh, and lest we forget the planning/shopping for/preparing of said healthy food!), if on a random Tuesday afternoon we want to hit the Whitey’s drive-thru and have ourselves a little ice cream sundae party right there in the car while waiting for preschool pick-up, hey, who’s going to tell us no? I’d like to see those kids get their hands on some ice cream without someone’s permission somewhere. Grown ups: we do what we want.
2. Coffee and/or (but probably and) alcohol.
Think about it. As moms we share just about everything every single minute of every day. From our bodies to our beds to the food on our plates and even our bathroom time – we give and give. But pour a little un-kid-friendly drink into a cup and you’ve got yourself a little something that you, with 100% certainty, DO NOT have to share. If that’s not a plus one for Team Grown Up, I don’t know what is! Plus, it’s tasty. See also: a necessity. Yes. Tasty adult libations > anything fruit-flavored that comes out of a box with a bendy straw. And heaven forbid we give them anything that would give them more energy or sabotage nap time. Sorry, kiddos!
3. Crushing the competition (with ourselves).
As adults, most of us have moved on from the days of little league and pee-wee soccer and our stiffest competition is with ourselves. We put in extra time at work to get a promotion. We train hard for that first 5k or marathon (see Abbie’s wonderfully inspiring post about Doing Hard Things!) It stretches the budget thin but we put that money aside for a family vacation in a few months. They don’t even have to be big, lofty competitions to feel like an accomplishment. We may glance around our homes and think, okay, Yesterday Self, Today Self is going to kick your butt in Laundry Folding and Dinner Making. The victories at the end of these battles are uniquely adult – kids just don’t get it. We don’t expect them to and they shouldn’t have to. But we can be proud of these things. We can share them and talk about them and celebrate them. They are influencing our kids in subtle ways they don’t quite get just yet. It’s true no one is handing out a trophy for Laundry Folding, but if it was challenge that day and you did it anyway, you can fist pump like a rock star and feel good about it. Our kids learn from these things too.
4. The grass is equally green on both sides, but the kids don’t know it yet.
As parents, we provide the guidance and the structure. The kids provide the inspiration and the silliness. This is a fair and balanced trade-off even if half (or more!) of the participants don’t really understand it. So when we make them do things like pick up their toys and brush their teeth, they may not see the immediate benefit even though it’s what’s best for them in the long run. But when they make us bust a gut with their hilarious kid shenanigans, we get to reap the immediate benefit of sharing in their excitement and getting down on their level if only for a few minutes. Another point for the grown ups!
5. Their good hearts are a reflection of us.
That’s not to say their sometimes less than stellar behavior is an accurate reflection of us. Let’s be honest, kids can be punks. But when your kid does something fantastic like stands up for a classmate, that’s YOUR influence. When they play nice, happily give away their toys to charity, or, if they’re only 2 and half like my kid, they give an enthusiastic “thank you!” to lady behind the deli counter that hands them a piece of cheese, you can think, hey, I taught them that! I’m doing something right! We all understand by this point that parenting is hard (duh.) But with each day come the chance to put a little good back in the world through our kids. That’s scary. The responsibility feels mountains high, and we will frequently question whether we are equipped for the task. But it’s also pretty incredible and we wouldn’t change it for the world. We are our kids’ heroes. We are their safe place, their navigator and their playmate. And loving them so hard we could just bust and showing them this wonderful world is, by far, the greatest thing about being a grown up.
What’s your favorite part about being all grown up??