Growing up

“When I grow up I want to be…”

Do you feel grown up? Despite having clocked up many achievements over the course of my life thus far (acquired a degree, moved away from the parental home, built a career, bought a house, married, given birth to three kids) I still feel much the same inside as I did before I donned this cloak of adulthood. Perhaps I am more confident in myself, a tad cynical at times, mentally battered especially by my teenage offspring; but I still have the same questioning, insecure mind that I struggled with as a teenager.

As the years have passed I have developed as a person, learned more about our constantly evolving world, recognised that I will never know it all or be entirely right. Whilst I rail against injustices and in my own small way campaign for more awareness of issues that matter to me, I can accept the shades of grey and need for compromise. When I suffer the despondency that dogged my younger self I remember that moods pass. I have reached a point of self acceptance where the world may take me or leave me, no hard feelings either way.

But have I grown up? What exactly does that mean?

This last week I have looked in the face of a new challenge, the prospect of an event that was always going to come but which I have not yet had to face – the death of a parent.

Lest you feel the need to reach out and express condolences let me assure you that my own elderly parents remain upon this earth. The scare came from my husband’s side, involving ambulances, an emergency operation and a vigil through the night as we waited for news. Thankfully it was good.

Events such as this pull sharply into focus what is to come, if not today then in time. At an unknown point in the future the ties that bind me to my wider family will be weakened, the imperative to sustain links will be gone.

My parents have been an anchor throughout my life. At times I have found the chain that connects us frustrating and fought to lengthen it but I have benefited from the security that their love and support has provided. We now live in different countries so they are not a part of my everyday but they are undoubtedly the secure foundation on which my life has been built.

When my younger self was longing for independence, for the freedom to be myself and not the daughter my parents desired, I did not foresee that our connection, their demands and my guilt at not being as they wished would remain despite increasing age and geographical distance.

When others try to mould me I feel treated like a child. Is it possible to feel grown up without autonomy? I may rail against my parents’ expectations but wonder if, when the time comes and I am cast adrift, I will choose any change of direction.

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5 comments on “Growing up

  1. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. This phrase captures the sensation you describe so well: “Events such as this pull sharply into focus what is to come, if not today then in time.”

  2. These will always be times you are made to feel (or just feel) like a child. The passing of a parent is definitely one of those.

  3. want2bwriter says:

    As long as you are responsible for yourself and others that count on you, there’s nothing wrong with not growing up inside. I’ll be turning 45 in a few days, but I feel like I still have as much zest for life as I did when I was younger; even more so. Enjoyed the read.

  4. Andrea says:

    Parental relationships are funny. We start out totally dependent, than fight like hell to be nothing but independent, and when they aren’t around anymore to test our independence what we wouldn’t give for one last time in their arms or one more I told you so. Your piece captures this conflict well.

  5. The range of emotions that surround the loss (or potential loss) of a parent is astounding. I’m glad the news was good this time around.

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