Did you take family road trips as a kid? We did. Not across country or anything major, but to surrounding states and definitely to the beaches of California. Often my parents would wake us up around 2 or 3 in the morning, and by “wake us up” I mean carry us out to the car, then get us settled in the backseat so that we could sleep for the 6ish hour trip to CA. When we woke up, the sun was shining and the beach was calling. I don’t know how my parents did it! They must have been exhausted. I remember the excitement, the sound and smell of my parents’ thermoses full of coffee (they must have REALLY needed it), and my brother and I snuggled up in the back in our sleeping bags (not illegal back then, mind you). Great memories. There was something so comforting and wonderful about seeing my parents up front and getting to enjoy being the child in back.
Yesterday, as our family of four drove 2 ½ hours for our first family vacation, I turned around to see our two sweet babies asleep in the car and realized once again that I am no longer a child. It’s hard to believe that I am the one up front. There wasn’t a thermos of coffee, but there was a 32 ounce ½ diet ½ regular Coke and the “Daddy” sitting next to me driving was non other than Matt, who I still picture as the goofy guy I fell in love with at 18. Are we really old enough, responsible enough, or at all equipped to be up front?
I began to wonder when it happened. I guess I should have realized that there had been a shift in my role when I gave birth to our first daughter, right? I am reminded every day, all day long that I am in fact a mom. And heck, now we have two little people running around. And yet, there is a huge part of me that still identifies as a daughter, a child. Can anyone relate?
What I’ve started to wonder is whether or not we ever start to picture ourselves as adults, deep in our hearts at our core. I think for most of us, even if we are 99, there is part inside that never grows up. That little voice inside your head (remember the “Wonder Years”), what age would you appropriate to that voice? Mine is definitely no older than 16. I wonder if that will ever change. Heck, I might even internally use the phrase “When I was your age,” and be thinking of it like a teenager. Who knows.
Maybe it isn’t an accident that our hearts remain forever linked to our childhood- to the need to be loved, to be cherished, and to not be the ones who always have to sit “up front.” Maybe God wanted it that way. I think I’m content to remain a “woman-child,” if you will. Responsible enough to pay my takes on time and recycle, but young enough to know I can’t do everything, I still have lots of questions about how things work, and that it’s important to let others guide me at times. This life is such a journey, as cheesy as it sounds. Regardless of the destination, or my seat in the car, I’m going to enjoy the ride.