When did I become a grown-up?
When I was a child, my mother always joked that I was 5 going on 30, 10 going on 40, etc. I was then, and still am to a degree, a very serious little person. I was taught to read by the time I was 2 1/2. I spent most of my days around adults (I am the oldest child in my family), and very little time with other kids my age. I loved school, because I couldn't wait to meet my teachers and learn something new.
Don't get me wrong... I wasn't that freaky kid who couldn't relate to other children. I just preferred to be around adults. I preferred to read higher level books, rather than Dr. Seuss or Ramona Quimby. In fact, I think I've gone back as an adult to read a lot of children's books... and I have a much greater appreciation for them now.
Everyone-- including my teachers, friends of parents, etc.-- were always commenting on how mature I was for my age.
For all the 'maturity' I seemed to have as a young person, I look back now and wonder... when did I really grow up? For as much as I can tell, I don't think I was all that mature. My guess is that I was just a pretty good actor... I even had myself fooled. And I think that pseudo-maturity led me to make some not-so-great decisions, because I thought I was mature enough to handle it all.
Probably the biggest error in judgement was getting married at 19. WHAT was I thinking? I had no idea who I was, what I wanted in life, where I wanted to be in 10 years, etc. By about age 25, I was sitting in my home one day, 2 children later, and feeling really miserable. My marriage was on a slow-but-steady-downward spiral. I loved being a mom, but I was also still a kid (No offense to those of you who are 25 or younger... you'll eventually know what I mean, though). I often remark that my oldest daughter, whom I had at age 20, and I grew up together.
I wasn't a great mom then. I'm so much more patient and understanding now... and a lot less selfish. And you know what? I have to be completely honest with you. So many more things/concepts/ideas make sense to me now. I've always been pretty good at making connections, but now... it's like a window that has been fairly cloudy has finally cleared up, and I can see things so much more clearly.
I'm not sitting here, professing that, at age 37, I am this wise, old sage. It's just that, well... it's a rather liberating feeling sometimes. Looking back, seeing your mistakes, remembering your good choices, and being able to see the impact on your life... how they all formed who you are NOW is something I just never expected. It's not like you wake up one day with this epiphany... it's more of a slow, gradual process.
So everytime I worry that I'm getting old, everytime I sweat the fact that my 20th high school reunion is quickly approaching (summer of 2007-- groan!), I also secretly relish that I'm not that girl I used to be. It's okay to get a few wrinkles. It's okay to look in the mirror and see things sagging where they never did before. Honestly, the payoff of getting older, of "growing up," is sooooo well worth it.
*All grown-ups are Pirates.