Kids today have it so differently than I and those of my generation. Our parents loved and cared for us. And certainly, we were priorities. But their lives did not seem to revolve around ours the way the lives of parents today (self included) seem to revolve around their kids. Managing the lives of today’s children is like a second job. We do all that we can for them from a place of love. But it is demanding and, at times, exhausting. There are the play dates, birthday parties, and enrichment activities. I often feel as much like my son’s manager as I do his mom. His social calendar at three years old is more active than mine. No longer are weekends my own. That is when I am his on-duty personal Uber driver as I chauffeur him to his social events of the weekend.
When my son began to have play dates and parties to go to, I had mixed feelings about it all. I was excited about the new little friendships he was fostering, but I was apprehensive for myself. I am a sociable person, but I am not social. I lean more towards the introvert end of the spectrum. In social situations, I am friendly and pleasant. And I am reasonably adept at interacting with others. But the truth is, most social situations in which I find myself are more so out of obligation than desire. Given the option, I would much rather be alone on a walk in the park, curled up with a book, or futzing around my apartment while listening to a podcast than out for drinks or at a social event. And watching kids run around a park, explore a nature center, or play musical chairs at a birthday party were never things that I ever imagined liking–tolerating, yes. Liking, no.
Or so I thought.
The events for which I have been a ‘plus one’ with my son have turned out to be some of the best times of my life. And this last year in particular has been wonderful. The early years of my life were marred by a dark period that robbed me of the carefree and fun-filled moments that are the hallmark of childhood. Because of the emotional trauma that held me hostage, I was afraid to venture out and live. My refuge was home. Behind my family’s closed door I was safe. No harm could reach me. So that’s where I created my world as a child.
But through my son, I am experiencing all that I missed. The parks, the festivals, the hayrides, the children’s museums, the nature centers, the kid gyms, the pool, the lunch and play dates, and the themed birthday parties. All of this, I have the pleasure of watching him enjoy as I get to experience it as his wing-girl. A blessing I never anticipated, but for which I am so grateful.
There’s an old proverb that says: ‘Once a man. Twice a child.’ It means that over the course of the life cycle, we experience the dependency of childhood in our early life, and again for a second time during our elder years. For many, this is true. But I am experiencing my second childhood right now. Not because of any physical or mental infirmity. But simply as a mom living and loving life though the eyes of my child, and with a renewed spirit finally set free.