One thing I hate to hear my teenage sister say is “I can’t wait to grow up!” I will admit I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for the confusing, frustrating, hormonal nightmare that I lived when I was her age, but why is everyone in such a hurry to grow up?
Growing up means enduring a lot of pain, sadness, disappointment and strife. Growing up means making mistakes, getting hurt and taking responsibility. Teenagers and kids that think that everything will be better when they are all grown up, certainly still have a lot of learning to do. Some people would give anything to go back to the carefree time of their youth when you weren’t as aware of all of the bad in the world, and the things that mattered most were not nearly as monumental as what matters to you in adulthood.
I’m not saying that growing up is all bad. Like I said, I wouldn’t want to go back to that time. But I do wish I’d better appreciated those little moments you don’t really think about much when you’re young – such as the times when you turned to your parents for guidance through the many storms of adolescence and they fearlessly guided you along the right path. One of these moments for me was when I got my first period. I was just 11 at the time. My mother had already explained the process, and we’d learned about it in school, but nothing had prepared me for that emotional day.
It started out like an ordinary summer day. I was spending the day with my grandmother, which I was always excited about because she has lived, learned and loved – and she always had, and still has, wonderful stories about life lessons she herself has experienced. I wasn’t feeling great and noticed some brown spots in my bathing suit when I used the restroom. I thought I was getting sick. My stomach was hurting me pretty badly, too, so after an afternoon of swimming my grandmother made me lay down on her couch. The pain was so bad, I cried. I later realized it wasn’t really worth crying over, but my emotions were all over the place.
When I went to the bathroom again I realized that the brown stuff wasn’t coming from where I thought it was. What was this? Why was it happening to me? I cried again. My Mom made it all better when she came to pick me up from grandma’s and explained what was happening to my body. I didn’t think I was old enough for a period, and I didn’t want to grow up if this is what growing up felt like! Mom babied me for the next 5 days or so until my first period was gone. She made me soup, showed me how to use a heating pad to help with cramping, and let me watch all of my favorite shows, while I laid on the couch and reveled in the attention. I didn’t think much of it back then, but now I realize that the little moments like these are crucial parts of growing up – and I wish I hadn’t rushed through them. I don’t just mean getting my period and officially “becoming a woman,” but rather learning how much my mother was there for me and how much she truly cared. She literally held my hand through that whole process – and I wanted to hold on to her forever.
So why is everyone in such a hurry to grow up? One thing I’d like back is the way Mom always made it all better when I was struggling with something. She’s still a huge presence in my life, and offers me comfort whenever I need it, but I sometimes miss when she was able to make everything better with just a tender gesture. Funny how you don’t realize these life lessons until you’ve grown up. Next time I hear my sister complain about how hard her life is at home and how she can’t wait to grow up, I’m going to remind her how important it is to live in the now, because it’s the only way you truly learn to appreciate your past – and the person it molded you into.
So tell me, have you lived and learned? What have you learned? I bet you can’t even write it all down. But you should try…