For the Easter holiday, my kids’ cousin Kii, spent the weekend with us. In an age when so many of the little girls I know seem to be in a rush to be older, I found her innocence and love of toys to be refreshing in someone who is almost eleven years old. That was until I found out what motivated her to be that way. I’m not sure what innocuous comment about growing up started the conversation, but she blurted out, “I don’t want to grow up, being an adult means no more fun ever!”
Now we all know there are kids with the Peter Pan thing going on, because childhood is carefree and fun but this was different. I asked her why she thought adults never have fun and she explained that you have to work so hard to just pay bills and provide things. And she said that motherhood was a lot of hard work too, even saying, “see! I told you being a mother is so hard!” when she saw me grousing about having to vacuum the rug a second time that day due to a spillage of god-only-knows-what. It really made me stop and think. I shut off the vacuum and after a moments’ reflection I said, “Yes, being a mother is a hard job. But it’s a job you volunteer for if you want to do it. No one can force you to have a baby, you choose whether or not you want kids. And even if a job is hard work, that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy doing it. I love being a mother!”
She looked surprised. “You do?”
“Yes, it’s the best job in the world. I chose it three times! You put in hard work and what you get back is just amazing. I enjoy almost every minute I spend with my boys, they are fun people to do things with and I will always have this amazing love because of them. Being an adult isn’t bad at all. When I pay bills with money I earned that makes me feel good. And if you are lucky enough to find a career you really love, well then it doesn’t seem like work at all, it’s something you enjoy getting up and doing every day. I like being a grown-up, I can decide to paint the walls green tomorrow if I want and no one can tell me not to!” And I suddenly reminded myself of some of the reasons I like being an adult. I’m not sure if Kii believed me though, as she still looked uncertain.
That made me wonder about how I am portraying adulthood to my own kids. It’s no secret around my home that the job I have taken recently is strictly to be able to pay my bills and it’s not a place I enjoy being, but I have been taking great pains not to let them know anymore how much I dislike it there. My youngest was beginning to worry about me, every evening when I walked in he would ask, “was today a better day? Are you liking it more yet?” Who wants to think that someone they love is tramping off to eight hours of aggravation and unhappiness? Then to return home and need extra decompression time before I can even function normally around the house was terrible. I really needed to get it together and I began by just talking myself out of the funk I was in on the way home. That way when I stepped through the door I could once again delight in the happy smiles that greeted me.
It’s easy to get bogged down with your adult problems and frustrations, we all have them and some worse than others. But as parents we can do a better job of keeping our adult stresses out of the minds of our children. This makes it easier to focus on what should be most important to them, their schoolwork. And it might seem cliché to say if you repeat in your mind over & over that you are happy and such and such is what you have to be grateful for it will begin to work, but it will. They didn’t make up the old saying mind over matter for nothing. Just simply pretending to be happy when I walk into my house and convincing my kids that I am makes it easier to let go of the frustrations of the work day. I was struck by that short conversation with Kii that I want to portray adulthood as a great time of life so that my kids look forward to the inevitable with anticipation, not dread.