Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When Did That Happen?

I’ll have just completed something excruciatingly mind-numbing at work. I’ll have just written a twenty page report for an MBA class. I’ll have just been in a debate about religion, politics, or economics. I’ll have just uttered words that makes me sound mystifyingly just like my mother.

Pause. And it hits me.

That awful feeling of how in the hell did I get here? Where did all my time go?

I still remember reading the Bernstein Bears and getting my tonsils out at age six. I still remember being mom’s favorite ballerina and being dad’s little soccer star. I remember getting a Barbie camera for my seventh birthday and screaming at my older brother for ruining my first sleepover party with his Batman impression. I remember the same obnoxious boy helping me learn to dive off the diving board when I was ten and threatening the first boy I dated when I was fourteen. I remember my dad teaching me to drive for the first time, making me slam on brakes so I would know how it felt. I remember my first love at sixteen and how nonchalantly I dismissed it as a summer fling. I remember being ecstatic when I got my first car and the sheer panic of my first car accident. I remember my junior prom and how beautiful I felt, especially since someone actually asked me to go. I remember how terrified and very alone I felt after a nasty breakup. I remember how hurt I was at the abrupt end of a six year best-friendship. I remember the nervousness of the first day of college and the sadness of the first week I moved away from home. I remember the guilt of losing touch with old friends. I remember the deep joy of a love re-found.

And here I am. An adult, I guess, at least in age sense.

But I have to say I miss the days when I had nothing to worry about except maybe being pelted by a dodgeball in gym class or the wrath of my mother should I fail a Calculus exam. When debates were about nothing more than what boy was cutest and what sound a buffalo makes when it’s mad. When writing assignments consisted of less than a page and were about things I wanted to write about: my family, my cat, my favorite toy. When a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese was enough to make my year and Santa wasn’t a myth. When the world still lay ahead of me – I would be a millionaire – and I could be anything I wanted to be, including the first woman President. When I didn’t sound like my mother, thank goodness.

But those times are gone.

Religion is not as black and white as it had been in the beginning, and politics sadly make more sense – I’m not sure which of those is more infuriating. Friends are not as closely bound as they used to be, all of us having our own lives, forgetting birthdays and promising to call tomorrow - gone are the sweet days of BFF bracelets. Day after day, my mother’s voice rings in my ears - I remember hating her for all that advice, but now I run to her for it.

So many things matter now that didn’t just a short time ago!

Manners often went by the wayside for some practical joke. No one cared that my neon socks didn’t match. I didn’t understand why mom insisted on brushing my hair. Ice cream was awesome – who even thought about calories? And I could cry all I wanted to, because I didn’t yet wear the proverbial “big girl panties.” Mom’s kisses and hugs would make it better anyway. After a fight with a friend, they had forgiven you by the next day at recess. Red Rover was serious business.

Not anymore.

I’ve traded in my Barbie dolls for long-wear mascara and Cole Haan boots. I could push my hair into a perfect ponytail with my eyes closed, and I actually put thought into what I’ll wear in the morning. Work is a necessity and, although boring, writing a ten page report on operational efficiency comes pretty easily. I worry about makeup and tanning and dieting and moisturizing and paying bills. I wear uncomfortable underwear for the sake of beauty and aggressively resist the urge to cry at movies. (Although, I just cheered in order to spell A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E.)

When did it all get so complicated?

Note to Self: I now have the urge to cuddle up with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and whip cream (ala mom) and watch my favorite Disney movie, Hercules.


Rachel said...

I tell my son this all the time to just enjoy being a kid because then you grow up and have to be an adult which isn't that fun; except you can tell your kids what to do LOL

I miss having no responsibilities...just going to school and playing with toys...the good ol days!

colbymarshall said...

Oh, I don't know...the good ole days may be gone, but you can still be a kid at heart. Ash and I actually have unicorn Best and Friends key chains, lol.

Stephanie said...

My childhood was tough. I survived divorce and a stepfather who was bipolar. My life is better now than I guess I missed out on those simple days.

the Grit said...

Hi MJ,

Try the waking up bit and find that your child is in his second year of law school and getting married next year, and that instead of programming computers you're now a farmer. Apparently, these things happen.

the Grit

Anonymous said...

gasp. we are so on the same page today. I was sent some interview questions and one of them got me thinking how old I am.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Your note to self sounds like the perfect answer to the question of "where did all the time go?"

pure evyl said...

Once I was a juvenile delinquent now I keep con's behind bars. The world is a strange place.

Danielle said...

I know exactly how you feel... I'm starting to feel old, and it sucks. I miss being a kid - all the things you talked about and more. *sigh* Do I really have to keep growing up? Can we just all decide to stop now?

teeni said...

I haven't seen Hercules. How the hell did I get as old as I am without seeing that Disney movie? I better put it on Netflix.

Sarah Jane said...

The good thing about being older, no one can tell you NOT to eat that bowl of ice cream....

If you miss them now....when you have kids and you get to play with all of their toys and realize how much fun you DID hits ya even harder!