Anonymiss in DC

{February 3, 2011}   Minding my inner child

I have always been one of those people who  delights in all things “inner child.”  I decorated my college dorm room with little plastic Care Bear figurines, got a Barbie VW Beetle complete (with the flower power stickers!) for my 20-somethingth birthday, and gave a friend an Easy-Bake Oven…my Christmas tree ornament is always decked out with happy mementos of Strawberry Shortcake, the Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and yes, more Care Bears… and I am totally down for watching reruns of David the Gnome, My Little Pony, Captain Planet, Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales (and pretty much whatever else you can think of)  at more or less any time.  You get the idea.

But putting the 80s toy box aside, I’m very nostalgic about my childhood and adolescence, which, in spite of the various ups and downs, I really do now regard as a “golden era” of sorts…a time when I believed Prince Charming and Happily-Ever-After were in fact “out there waiting”… a time when I believed if I worked hard in school and was a good person, I would be more-or-less guaranteed success and happiness in adulthood… a time when…well, ok. I think you get it.

In addition to toting this nostalgia for all things “young”…. these days I refuse (rather adamantly) to join the ranks of “real grownups” by getting married, tackling the real estate market in search of the perfect “first” home, getting pregnant (and presumably, posting my ultrasound pictures and “mommy questions” to Facebook), and otherwise devoting myself to being the perfect, devoted wife and mommy.  As I am frequently reminded my well-being relatives, I did recently hit the big 2-8, after all. Don’t I want to settle down?

Sure. Eventually. But it’s a terrifying, overwhelming prospect.  I feel like I’m going to lose my identity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that “real grown-ups” (as I so lovingly call them) are boring or anything, but I really think I might die if I become the kind of person who tells people how my weekend was in terms of the progress of my basement renovation project… or,  even worse, if I start referring to myself as a SAHM and assuming everyone knows what the acronym means…) …I just don’t want to lose me.  I feel like I’ve just barely figured out who I am, and, frankly, sometimes I’m not even sure I’ve really got it down.  Shouldn’t I focus on that before I start a new, much bigger chapter?

I know, I’ve said all this before…same story different day. What I’ve been thinking about lately, though, is the coexistence and/or interrelationship of my inner-child and my refusal to “grow up.” Is it because I love my inner child so much that I’m refusing to “grow up”l? Is it, as a friend recently suggested, simply that I’m simply unhappy with my current “almost-grown-up-and-married” domestic setup, and therefore don’t want to think about  making it permanent?  Is it both?

Today I was talking to an old friend from high school who has, in the ten years since we graduated, settled comfortably into the role of faithful husband and doting daddy. We were having a “do you remember when” conversation on Facebook, and just before he signed off, he said something that gave me a moment’s pause.

“I sometimes wonder if it is possible to get the free spirit back we used to have…or are we just too old and have too many responsibilities?”

He went offline before I could reply.

This struck me as interesting…even funny. He was the guy who did great in school but never obsessed about his grades. At seventeen, he didn’t define the bulk of his self-worth upon his grades and SAT scores.  And there I was, obsessing about the 98 instead of a 99 I was going to get in English, because the 99 would boost my class rank more, and I wanted to get into Princeton.  He made me realize I had to let my own “free spirit” out more often– I had to stop obsessing about where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to be and some take the time to be young and spontaneous.

I guess I didn’t realize we were supposed to take time to be young and spontaneous while we still could…in other words, then, and not so much now. Because here we are ten years later,  and he’s telling me that he’s nostalgic for that “free spirit” of yesteryear that I, of all people– the “reformed goody-two-shoes”– am holding onto for dear life, while he’s gone and “grown-up.”

Isn’t it funny how life goes?

Do we have to give it up, though? Really? Can’t we jump in the car and go barreling down some lone country road with the windows rolled down and our radio blaring? Can’t we dress up in 80s garb and sing karaoke till 2 in the morning? Do we have to sit at home all the time, making Ina Garten’s latest recipe, sipping red wine and discussing (thoughtfully) how it has opened up in the half hour since we began discussing the housing crisis?

I can put away my Carebear figurines and pretend I don’t know the words to the Captain Planet theme song, but I’m not going to stop being goofy and silly and spontaneous when the mood strikes me.  I simply cannot. And I’m afraid of what would happen to me if I tried.  Maybe I’ll “grow up” eventually, but something tells me my inner child will be coming along for the ride.

Amanda says:

I feel like I just read my own thoughts!

I feel the SAME EXACT way and it’s frustrating and kind of scary because I hope there is more fun to come. I really really REALLY enjoyed my childhood (and high school and college) and I have no desire to settle down and the person that actually thinks other people want to hear about their remodeling or their lawn, or their child’s new private school. Although I do WANT to have kids and a house, I just don’t want it YET and I hope I don’t let the time pass by and suddenly it will be too late!

Anyways, GREAT post. Replace the Carebears with My Little Ponies and you’ve written about my life exactly. Also I ADORE the fact that you mentioned David the Gnome – that was my favorite show EVER and many people don’t know it!

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