By Lori Welch Brown
You’re KIDding me, right?!
I am the youngest of four, and the only girl. I’ve been the ‘baby’ of the family my entire life. To cement this fact and for reasons unbeknownst to me, pretty much everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve been referred to as the ‘kid.’ Somehow, this title seemed more like a commentary on my work abilities vs. my youthful complexion. Of course, I joined the workforce in the late 80’s when most of the ‘compliments’ I received would now be handled between the HR department and Goldstein, Dickson & Rosenblatt and would likely land me a rather healthy settlement. That being said, I’ve spent most of my adult life crawling and scratching my way up from the kiddie table. I couldn’t wait to claim my rightful seat at the grown up table which seemed so much more fun and glamorous. I mean who wants to be served Kool Aid in a Dixie cup? I wanted to be across the room with the swirling dark colored liquids in real glassware with stems. I wanted to order off the adult menu—no more chicken tenders for me! I wanted to be recognized as a full-fledged, grown up adult—whatever that meant. Of course, when you’re around ten (and a girl), it meant getting your first bra. After that, it became shaving my legs. Next came driver’s license, then car, and then car payments! I was really an adult—an adult with a payment book—albeit with parents who were still saddled with the payment book to my orthodontist. Hard to be an adult when your parents are still lording the ‘where’s your retainer?’ thing over your head. Kissing and rounding bases is in there somewhere too, but that’s for a different publication.
In the blink of an eye, adulthood swoops in with an abundance of opportunities to hone your grown up skills vis a vis understanding insurance deductibles, diversifying 401-k accounts, disputing traffic violations, escalating Comcast complaints, and, of course, one of the all time favorites, scheduling your first colonoscopy. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more fun, I find myself at the age of 50 confronted with joint replacement surgery. What?! How’d I get into that club so quickly? Clearly, I am an overachiever of the most high. Let’s face it, joint replacement is the ‘platinum’ (aka octogenarian) card of adulthood. Whoa—I’m not worthy and/or ready! Look at me—I’m still a kid for God’s sake!! I can’t even return library books on time or be held responsible for taking the trash out. Feels like just last week that I missed curfew and forgot to turn in my term paper on poet Percy Shelley. I won’t even mention my distaste of algebraic equations and broccoli.
Staring down the face of titanium body parts, remind me again why I was in such a hurry to wear a bra and shave my legs because that pretty much feels like when the wheels fell off the wagon. What I wouldn’t give to transport myself back in time to that pudgy little girl with the peach fuzz legs and hips that rotated properly. Okay—maybe it was more little baby chimp fur legs, but whatev’. You get my point. I was carefree and had absolutely no clue how much razor blade replacements cost, let alone hip replacements. The answer is a lot. I was also—thanks to mom and dad—blissfully unaware of the high cost of healthcare and dog food. Of course, no one was eating organic, let alone feeding their dog grain-free foods. While adulthood has its occasional perks such as easy access to alcohol and AMEX reward points, for the most part, adulting sucks. Why are we always in such a hurry to grow up? Or—why are we always in such a hurry to be someplace else—someplace we are not? Why is it so bleeping difficult to enjoy the space (and bodies) that we are in—in this moment? I guess if we came out of the womb as the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle or Mother Teresa, we’d have a better shot at this thing called ‘acceptance’ and ‘gratitude.’ For those of us ordinary beings whose emotional compass frequently gets stuck somewhere between gossip and grudges, that leap seems like it’s meant for the Phi Beta Kappa crowd, but I’m trying. Maybe that’s the next sure sign of adulthood.
In the meantime, can someone send me a coloring book, stat? And not one of those fancy adult ones. I’m talking Tom & Jerry or Aristocats. I want my mommy and a binky.
Happy Mother’s Day—lest you forget—you are what makes the world go around. We would be no one (literally) without you. Mine’s been gone for 11 years now and I miss her like it was yesterday.