Age is Just a Number
They were the best of times. They were the worst of times. I’m talking about the teen years. I thought my parents couldn’t possibly relate to my life. At all. Will Smith’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was the teen anthem in my day.
Now that I’m a mother, much to my amazement – and horror – I find myself saying the exact same things my parents used to say. I never thought I would lecture but I do. I even start sentences by shaking my pointer finger and saying, “When I was your age…”
Now I know that my parents did understand. Technology may change but people don’t. Some experiences are universal. I’m sure you can identify with me when I say that when I was 13…
- My bedroom was my sanctuary. I came out to eat and use the bathroom.
- I talked on the phone until both of my ears were sore.
- I thought 16 was so far away and I couldn’t conceive of my life with a driver’s license.
- I didn’t think it was fair to be called on in class when my hand wasn’t raised.
- I was in love with someone who didn’t love me back and I didn’t think my heart would heal.
- I had acne.
- My friends and I laughed until we cried and our stomachs hurt.
- I had my first kiss.
- Every month I feared the boys would find out when “Aunt Flo” was visiting.
- I dreaded giving a book report in front of the class.
- I had nightmares from the horror movies my parents warned me not to watch.
- I thought being grounded was a horrible injustice.
- I thought my parents would live forever. Now I know that I will lose them someday and it scares me.
- I said when I became a parent I would let my kids do whatever they wanted.
- I thought 30 was old. By then I would surely have all the answers. I don’t.
I wish I had believed my parents when they said, “I’ve been your age. I know what you’re going through.” I might have taken their advice and saved myself some heartache along the way. I still need my parents and their guidance as an adult.
A few years ago I flew to Florida for my sister’s wedding during hurricane season. Due to business commitments my husband couldn’t come. It was just me and Madison and it would be her first flight. I saved money on airfare by flying economy class and stopping for a layover in Houston. Because of bad weather there we were delayed from taking off at Sky Harbor and missed our connecting flight. My nerves were already shot because secretly every time I fly I think we’re going to crash and die in a fiery explosion.
We had to wait in a long line, get another flight, and run across the terminal to make it on time. We ended up waiting for takeoff yet again because of the storms. When we finally landed in Orlando Madison and I were disheveled and starving. I had no idea if the car rental place was still going to be open and if I could follow the directions to my sister’s house, let alone drive in the inclement weather.
My father took a direct flight that left several hours after ours. As luck would have it, because of the delays we all ended up in Orlando about the same time. As soon as I found him in the terminal I was relieved. I actually thought to myself, “Oh thank God, an adult! Daddy!”
I once asked my mother at what age she finally felt like a “real adult.” She said, “I don’t know. I’ll tell you when I get there. I still feel like I could use my mom.” She was in her 50s at the time.
Is it possible we always need a parent or mentor to help us navigate our lives? Will we ever truly become autonomous? Maybe life is designed so that we never will. Maybe we’re supposed to need each other.