I was at the pool a few days ago, all by myself, floating on a noodle and snoozing in the sun. My book was on a towel at the edge of the water, my water bottle sat beside it. It was 95 degrees, and even though the water was warm, it was the closest to “cool” I’d felt all day.
A tiny trio of voices jarred me from my pseudo-nap as they ran excitedly into the pool area. Although I live in an adult-only community, little ones visit their grandparents regularly during the summer, their happy laughter a welcome interruption in this otherwise quiet space.
“Look at that lady!” one of them said. “She’s so lucky! I can’t wait until I’m big enough to swim by myself.”
A smile began at the corners of my mouth. Lucky. Yes. Being an adult definitely has its advantages. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Chips and guac and ice cream for dinner? Absolutely. I can drink adult beverages, even if I sometimes drink too many of them. I can drive anywhere I’d like. Man, I remember that feeling of first getting my driver’s license. The freedom. The possibility. I can take a nap in the middle of the day and go to bed at 3:00 AM if I want to. (Sidebar: I never want to.) I can adopt special needs dogs. I can love who I love.
Adulthood definitely has its advantages.
But as I listened to those high-pitched voices laughing and arguing and being corrected by their “Pawpaw,” I thought about the benefits of childhood, too. No expectations, no bills, no work deadlines. I would never want to be a child again, but every once in a while, I miss that feeling of curling up on my mom’s lap, safe and sleepy and freshly bathed. That gentle time between the day and night when everything is slowing down, dinner is finished, the dishes are done, and all that remains is to feel the glorious relief of my eyes slowly shutting, and my mom’s kind voice saying, “Okay, Trinks, time for bed.” Then she’d usher my half-asleep self to my sister-shared room, where I would curl up in that liminal space between waking and sleeping, and I’d feel her soft goodnight kiss on my cheek, still smelling vaguely of a Merit Ultra Light.
Everyone goes through childhood to get to adulthood. Some of us had it better than others. I will forever be grateful that no matter what else was happening in the big, wide world, I was safe on my mother’s lap, curls still damp from the shower and freckles freshly scrubbed, where nothing waited for me but dreams.