Here’s the scenario. I come downstairs in the morning and notice that the cat has been sick on the carpet. My first response? I look for the grown-up who is going to clean it up! My second response? Perhaps I can pretend I didn’t notice so that my husband will do it. Third response? The realisation that I am it. I am the grown-up who has to clean up the cat sick. This can be applied to tidying up, hard financial decisions, determining whether the children are sick or injured enough to need the emergency department at the hospital or if it can wait until the morning and even as far as what to make for dinner tonight and who is going to do it.
People who don’t know me might comment that my chronological age makes me middle-aged. In light of this, the whole wanting a grown-up situation seems a little silly. And those people who know me almost always describe me as practical, reliable and responsible. They know that they can rely on me; that I’ll be first in line to help out in times of crisis; that if I say I’ll be there, then I’ll be there. I look like an adult, I sound like an adult, and my behaviour is generally that of an adult, and yet I still find myself looking for the grown-up in my house.
I think that deep inside, I still feel like a kid. I still play, I still have the ability to be ridiculous and find the ridiculous. I don’t feel very old at all, and certainly not like the grown-up. And yet the dichotomy is that I am the one who cleans up the cat sick, or the baby vomit or triages the kids. (I should say at this juncture that there is another grown-up in my house – my husband – and he is very good about doing all of these things as well. However he seems oddly reluctant to be “the” only grown-up in our house).
Perhaps it’s just that I am lazy. Or maybe that my inner 6-year old is lazy. I find myself wishing for a stay at home wife (not sure how the husband would react to that!) who could help out with being the grown-up. When I think of my parents (and other people’s parents), they always seemed so sure of themselves – even when they were making bad choices.
Does everyone feel this way? Once we reach so-called adulthood, do we all still feel as though we are kids inside, just pretending to be adults? Is everyone waiting for the grown-up to magically appear and do all the hard stuff for us? And where would we be if we did all have a grown-up? Isn’t it the doing the hard stuff that helps us to grow into the people we have the potential to be?
I do accept all this, but no doubt the next time a cat, or a child is sick, or we find a dead rat in the compost (that was today’s little shocker, and both the husband and I completely abdicated all grown-up responsibility and just left the revolting thing there), I’ll still be looking for the grown-up in the house.