Like most kids, I frittered away my entire childhood wishing I was already grown. I pictured adulthood as this endless utopia of doing whatever the hell I wanted — an entirely different world, devoid of the daily grievances that plagued me, like cleaning my room and having to finish my dinner before getting dessert. Being a kid meant being told what to do, whereas being a grown-up meant … well, I wasn’t exactly sure, but I knew it involved staying up past 9 p.m. (sometimes with popcorn and an R-rated movie). Sign me up!
Unfortunately — for me and anyone else who ever put adulthood up on a gleaming pedestal — actual adulthood is kind of like seeing a disappointing movie. Sure, there are advantages, but it’s admittedly not the Experience of Pure Awesomeness I spent so many years anticipating. There were just so many things I thought would be spectacular that, as it turns out, actually aren’t.
1. Never Having to Take a Nap
As a grown-up, nobody comes to me in the middle of the day and instructs me to lie down anymore…and it’s terrible. Why, oh why did I never learn to appreciate the fact that my mom was a huge advocate of the afternoon nap? I remember walking to my room as though I were on my way to the electric chair, a scowl plastered on my face, vowing that someday – some day – there would come a time when I would never nap again. That time, apparently, is now. And it’s just not cool.
How amazing it would be, I thought, to just have a car and a license at my disposal! I could go anywhere, at any time, like to buy a chocolate cake in the middle of the day because I could. But that was before I knew about traffic jams, maintenance, and insurance costs. Before I knew about asshole drivers, fender-benders, construction zones, speeding tickets. And people who park in the drop-off lane at my kids’ school.
3. Keeping My Room Messy
I was a messy kid who grew up with a neat freak. Consequently, my disgusting bedroom was a constant battle between my mom and me. I wanted to go outside and play — I had to clean my room first. Borrow five bucks? Not ‘til my room was clean. Company coming? Clean my room. I distinctly remember telling my mom that when I had my own house, I’d keep it as gross as I wanted. And then I grew up and karma kicked in, and now I’m the neat freak — with four children who aren’t.
4. Living on My Own
No rules! No bedtimes! If I wanted to decorate my living room with New Kids on the Block posters and lava lamps and electric-pink walls, then damn it, I would. If I wanted to stock my pantry with fifteen varieties of Pop Tarts and little else, it was my prerogative! Having my own place was going to rule. And it did, for like two seconds … until I realized it came with sucky responsibilities like rent and utilities and upkeep. WTF.
5. Eating Whatever, Whenever
My parents were cruel enough to require vegetables at dinner and said horribly damaging things to me like “No cake for breakfast.” But all that was going to change as an adult, because I was going to eat only things I liked — whenever the mood struck me! And I’m not gonna lie — all those 2 a.m. Taco Bell runs during college were pretty freaking awesome. However, now that I’m older, I’ve discovered a nasty little thing called “metabolism” and realized that mine is not exactly working in my favor when it comes to scarfing down a bowl of ice cream or two (or a couple of beef and bean burritos) before bed. Sigh.
6. Not Going to School
I didn’t mind school for the most part — but I hated the way I had to, like, get out of bed and go there and then stay there for a designated length of time. I envisioned adulthood as one lengthy carefree stretch of summer vacation, where I could do my own thing on my own time. Ha. Hahahahaha.
7. Shaving My Legs
As a kid, I used to actively monitor my legs and pits for signs of enough hair growth to warrant a shave. My mom would warn me, “Once you start, you’ll never be able to stop,” and I was like, “I don’t care! Shaving is probably so much fun!” But she was right (of course), and now instead of monitoring my leg hair growth, I try to ignore it until the stubble injures my husband. Oops.
Once in a while — like when it’s pay day, or I’m drinking a cocktail without being carded — I’ll think to myself, “It’s good to be a grown-up.” Then I have to spend that paycheck on boring stuff like bills and groceries, or wake up with a hangover from one damn drink and say things like “I really need to hydrate,” and I realize that I should have appreciated my childhood more. But I guess hindsight is always 20/20.
Too bad I need bifocals for everything else.