There are numerous milestones in life that politely suggest (or scream in your face) that you’re not a kid anymore: earning your driver’s license, graduating from high school, voting, drinking alcohol (legally), graduating from college, living alone for the first time, starting your first full-time job, opening a 401K. The list goes on. I’ve done all of these things and more, and yet some little part of me has always considered myself to still be a kid. I don’t mean a kid at heart, but an actual kid. Someone not able to handle the pressures and challenges of adulthood. Someone who might, at a moment’s notice, call mom and say, “Life is hard. Can you make it all better, please?” That I’ve always known I could turn to my parents for help at the worst of times has been an unshakeable foundation that has allowed me to succeed, bolstered by the belief that no matter how badly I mess things up, I can still go home—figuratively speaking—have a nice dinner and tuck into bed under the same blanket of security I felt when I was 6 or 12 or 17.
So what finally has pushed me into the realm of adulthood? Real, grown-up, no-mom-and-dad-to-help adulthood? What finally has shaken that foundation? The knowledge that now it is up to me to provide it. That’s right. Hubby and I are going to be parents. And how could I possibly consider myself still a kid when any day now (I’m 40 weeks pregnant as of this writing) I’ll have one of my own who will insist, nay demand, that I be the mom in the relationship. It’s a little bit scary. At 33 years of age, I can’t claim that pregnancy and the prospect of parenthood sneaked up on me. Modern medicine allowed me to wait until I was financially and physically ready, in a comfortable, loving relationship. (Indeed, I’ve never been more supportive of contraception and reproductive choice than I am now.) But no matter how long you wait or plan, once the birth—or adoption, for those who go that route—is imminent, it’s hard to convince yourself that you really are ready. Will we be and provide everything our kid needs to be a good, self-adjusted person? One that doesn’t root for Duke or the Raiders? I hope that hubby and I have it in us and believe that we do—as much as I can believe now, while the kid is still safely in her cocoon—because the people who raised us were so good at being parents.
So, yes, even now, as I prepare to jump head first into that truly adult state of mind from which even my parents can’t save me, I look to them not for rescue, but for an example. With gratitude, of course, and a little bit of awe.