I spent the weekend on Long Island with my mom for Mother’s Day. We had a great time…we cooked dinner, did a little shopping, gardened, and just sat around talking. At one point, she was nudging me about something she thinks I should have done differently. This is a repeat nudge that I’ve heard many times before. Although I respect her opinion and input, I’ve decided not to follow her advice in this particular instance. So, when she mentioned it once again this weekend, I politely responded, “You can tell me what you think I should do as much as you want, but ultimately, I’m going to make my own decision because I’m a grownup.” She didn’t really say much in response, but the next day, she told me she had been thinking about what I’d said. She recognized that I am a grownup and that I make my own decisions, and told me that I’ve made a lot of great ones that have made her proud.
I think it was a bit of a reality check for both of us. Those of us in our twenties are in a weird place. The majority of us aren’t in school anymore and we’re making our own living. Many of us have moved far from home to make the most of our careers. We have serious relationships, and some of us have even gotten married. We may make big time decisions like buying houses or having kids. But the thing is, growing up can be scary, and we may (secretly or not so secretly) long for the simple days when our mommies and daddies took care of things for us.
I know that I’m still very much a kid at heart. I still like to use my imagination and make time for play. I’m also very close with my parents. They live a little more than an hour train ride away, and I manage to see them pretty frequently. I absolutely love the relationships I have with both of them, and I’m grateful to have them close by…but I think they still see me as their little girl. Of course, I always will be their little girl in some ways, and I definitely play into that at times, but I’m also 26 years old, married, with a full-time job and an apartment in Manhattan. I don’t always like the responsibility and stress that comes with all of that, but it’s part of the package.
There’s nothing wrong with still needing our parents and valuing their perspective, but we also have to own being a grownup if we want them to respect us and the decisions we make with our lives. It’s a delicate balance to strike, between dependence and independence, carefree and responsible…but it’s one we have to find. It may take a while, some trial and error, but whether we like it or not, we’re grownups, so we better get used to it.