Like most kids, growing up I gravitated towards the idea of becoming an adult. Everything about being a grown up, at least when I was 12, seemed so much better. I wanted my own place, my own car, my own money, and most importantly freedom. The freedom to come and go as I please without any questions. I could not wait to be an adult, and then, one day I was. Almost overnight, I went from a carefree kid to a responsibility-carrying adult with practically everything I asked for, and every hassle that came with it. Living on my own meant paying rent. Having a car came with a monthly payment and repairs (those are fun). Having my own money came with the need to be employed. As for freedom? I experienced it briefly, and then I had kids. When I look back on my life, I try to appreciate every experience because those experiences have lead me to where I am today.
As I grow older, the one thing I do find myself wishing I had done more of is listening to my mother. I can say it quite loudly that she was right about A LOT. While she has given me countless bits of advice throughout the years, the one piece I find myself going back to is her suggestion to enjoy being a kid. My mother would always say, “You only get 18 years to be a kid. And everything else after that is responsibility.” She was speaking from experience. Her life was full of responsibilities at an early age. From the time she was fourteen until she was married, my mother helped to care for her younger siblings, cleaned, and cooked for nine people. NINE people! I’m still trying to pull together a prepackaged meal for four. When my grandmother became ill, my mother did not simply set her dreams or goals on the back burner. She took them completely off the stove. And while being married (and divorced several years later) and having children ushered in the next phase of her life, she did not get to accomplish all that she was capable of. Her attention went to providing for her four children and encouraging us to go further than she had.
When you are a kid, you do not always see things from that perspective. You know your parent(s) sacrifice for you, and perhaps your sibling(s), but you do not always know to what extent. It was not until I had children of my own that I realized she was encouraging my brothers and me to have a childhood, not because she preferred for us to always remain children, but because she had missed so much of her own. She wanted us to know what it was like to play, and to use our imagination, and not have to concern ourselves with paying bills and work. She just wanted us to have a moment in time where the demands of the outside world were not a priority.
I find myself looking at my own children and wondering if they will take heed to me teaching the same lesson, or if they will be hard- headed like their mother. Whichever way they go they’ll find out that being an adult is a lot of things. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes it’s admitting that good ole mom was right.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Latanya Muhammad is an educator, group facilitator, and 100% a wife and mom. If you would like to read more of her posts you can do so by visiting www.shetanagain.com. And if you want to weigh in on the action, feel free to direct all feedback and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya'!