Most of my childhood I felt as if the world was holding a secret from me and that once I was an adult all would be revealed. But that’s just one of the many cruel jokes of childhood though. Much like your first teeth, your first pubic hairs, your first fight, your first loss, or the first date it doesn’t get easier; because, the secret is, you never really grow up. You just become more experienced at, and accustomed to, life’s difficulties as you age. You might not handle it any better than cutting those first teeth but at least now you have the cuss words to express yourself.
And that’s one of the cruel jokes of parenthood as well. You must perpetuate the secret for the sake of your children’s childhood because if we were to acknowledge how scared and lost we are, like children themselves, imagine how frightened they would be. So I smile and try to be what I need to be for my children even when I’m nervous, exhausted to the point of interminable jet lag, and sick of every toy and animated film ever created. Maybe if I had enjoyed being a child I wouldn’t mind those things so much. Maybe if I hadn’t been in a hurry to not be a child, if I didn’t perceive myself as a nuisance to everyone, I would have enjoyed that time. For my children’s sake and my own, I pretend to be a grown up and try to be the best mother I can (but with cuss words, leg stubble, and great assistance from hidden junk food and cocktails).
I’m their personal paparazzi, booboo fixer, entertainment director, bowel movement observer, storyteller, and safe haven. Always willing to cuddle and pretend that I’m not scared and tell them everything is alright because deep down I know it will be for them. It has to be because the alternative is just too scary. So I lay here between them, writing as they nap, enjoying the success of getting them to do so and try not to be scared of the monsters that are too real in the world and hope I can be brave for them.
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