Remember when summer lasted forever and school wasn’t so steeped with homework or tests? As kids, we were all so carefree, our only worries having to do with a skirmish with a friend or having the wrong sandwich for lunch.
Someone told me when my children were babies, little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems.
Well, not problems exactly, but the issues get bigger, and more emotional than physical, and there is less that we parents can do to steer the outcome. Some things kids just have to experience themselves.
And then into adulthood…I remember yearning to be out on my own and an adult because I figured the stupid social antics of childhood would never occur as adults. Little did I know that most people never actually grow up or mature, and the same emotional games they played in middle school or beyond they bring with them like a worn blanket into adulthood.
This blog isn’t about any particular situation in my life these days, though I’m sure at some point it’ll be about exactly that. No, I’m thinking about my children struggling with transitions, with homework that seems insurmountable, with exhaustion from running in the sun and open air and digging for worms and staying up late on Saturday night to watch a movie together.
I can’t make them well-rested, only encourage them to get to bed earlier. I can’t do the homework for them, only talk them through the challenges and hope the pieces connect. I can’t eliminate cavities or tummy aches or disappointments or the fact that yes, I am not married to their father and so they must live between two houses.
I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s been five years and it could be so much worse.
I hear myself saying that, get some perspective…it could be so much worse, and I want to kick myself because I can hear the eye-rolls that I would’ve given had my parents said the same thing. Damn well yes, they need perspective, and yes our life is Thank God, fantastic and comfortable and we have all we need and then some, but kids don’t know anything about perspective.
Most of the time, neither do we.
And then there are the trials of growing old. I see it every day, in the mirror where silver hairs sprout and my middle gets thicker, and in those that I love. My grandmother is still with us, but she is not well. Growing old is not for the light-hearted. It’s a tough business, to watch and to endure.
Of course, there is the perspective side of things. (Eye roll, please.)
It’s better than the alternative, my father always says. And if we have half a chance to step back and see our lives for what they are, truly, in comparison to how much harder it could be, well, wouldn’t that be great?
It’s a first world problem to yearn for job satisfaction and career growth and to evade boredom and to have that pair of shoes you’re ogling in Vogue. It’s a first world problem for my son to worry about whether he’s doing his homework perfectly and on time.
I’m going to say it despite all the ensuing eye-rolls: it could be so much worse. Really, it could.