It was only 7:45pm but I was already fantasizing about my pillow. I’d had a hectic day of dropping the boys off at archery camp, clients, doctor’s office calls about the burn on my son’s foot, picking them back up, and our regular Tuesday evening hockey practice. I was tired, and I had just inhaled two and a half pieces of pizza.
Oprah said never to eat after 7:00pm.
As I sat in the passenger seat of my husband’s truck, burping onion and mushroom pizza in between yawns, I casually looked to my right just in time to see a car-full of teenage-ish girls pull up right next to us. There were four of them. Sun-kissed with long blonde hair they all kept flipping back and forth with their hands. Their windows were all down, music pulsing, and their bright white teeth sparkling as they laughed and looked up at me. Surely, they’d seen my husband’s F-150 truck and assumed it would be carrying young, strapping sun-kissed boys. I am assuming they were marginally disappointed to, instead, be met with an over-tired mom 20 years their senior who was about to unbutton the top button on her shorts.
I discreetly alerted my husband to the flock of beauties in such a way that my boys would not pick up on my shallow and vapid comments about the gaggle of giggling girls next to us:
” Hey…….honey, 3:00. Check out the Talent over here”. He gingerly leaned forward in his seat a bit, “Yeah, you’re right….that is a nice car”.
To be perfectly honest, they all looked exactly the same. Tanned. Bleach-blonde long hair. Make-up. Skimpy clothing. I was less intrigued by their youthful looks and much more keen on the beautiful, naive look in their eyes. A look we all had when we were on summer break from college, with our BFF’s while it was 88 degrees outside in mid-July. That time in life when we’re still financially coddled by our parents, but have enough independence to spread our wings a bit more. The perfect and safe balance of still being a kid, but thinking we’re adults.
Looking at them through my $8.99 pair of sunglasses that I bought at the local Jolley near my house, a big smile spread across my face. I couldn’t contain it. Yes, they may have all looked like clones of Malibu Barbie, but you could tell they were having So. Much. Damn. Fun.
What I envied was the fact that they were at the point in their lives where they could go in a thousand different directions. They had a million choices. Their lives were still filled with more questions than answers: “What do you want to study at college? Which college do you want to go to? Are you gonna hook up with Andy tonight? Are you coming with us to Cancun next Spring? Where are you gonna work this summer? A time in their lives when their futures were still wide, wide open.
As any parent knows, when you decide to settle down with someone and have children, the decision greatly decreases the plethora of different paths you may have taken. Of course, that is exactly why many of us chose to have children: because we were sick of ourselves. Sick of only thinking of us. We wanted to create and foster another life and love someone in a way we’ve never known. And we would never want our lives any other way.
I’ve been daydreaming of learning how to become a DJ the last few months (does anyone know of any classes around Franklin County Vermont by the way?). In Junior High I used to compose songs on my Yamaha keyboard, and overlay pre-recorded melodies with other melodies using my boombox and then call up Tami on the phone and torture her by making her listen to them. (I love you Tami).
I’m also toying with the idea of a subtle, yet tasteful tattoo (okay, okay, it would be of my sons’ names, but hey, I’d still be slinging ink).
I want to write a book, and dye my hair and I want to wear my Converse sneakers to work sometimes and I’d love more than anything to go stay in a tiny cottage in Scotland for a while and learn how to shear sheep by an old, cranky, drunk farmer named Seamus (I know he’s out there waiting for me).
It’s a tricky balance, parenthood. A tricky balance between sacrifice for your kids and your family, which you feel good doing most of the time, and which fulfills you in so many ways…… and an incessant desire to also indulge your own needs and wants as a human being, separate from making everyone’s favorite meal and making sure they packed their cleats.
I will be 40 in a few months and most people might say I’m having some kind of quasi-mid-life crisis, which I really don’t agree with at all. I look at it more as me tipping the scales; balancing out the last decade of my life. I spent my twenties indulging in my every whim and my thirties having babies and focusing on their all-consuming needs. Now that my boys are older and don’t need me nearly as urgently and constantly as they once did, I’m hoping my 40’s will be more of a better balance for myself. A new era that may or may not include me trying to pull a Maya Jane Coles. Although I’ll really need to work on being able to stay up past 8:45pm.
As the car-full of shiny, laughing girls pulled away off into the sunset I yawned, keenly aware of the fact that at 8:00 my day would be ending and theirs would just be starting and I was happy for them and happy for me. As much as I may miss the freedom that being an almost-adult can bring, I really wouldn’t want to be 19 again.
Okay maybe just for a day. Or a week.
A month at the very most.