Monday, October 4, 2010

Safety nets

35. That’s how old I turned today. To some I’m sure that sounds ancient, to others like I’m still a kid. It’s all relative, of course, but as the day progressed I found myself wondering more and more often what my age means to me. How old do I feel? For years I always felt younger than my actual age, I’ve always felt a little like a kid, playing at being an adult even though I’ve been living on my own for quite a long time. I moved to Italy when I was 19, and I haven’t lived with my parents full time since then. The first few years, the years of roommates and changing apartments every 10 months, my home was in Houston, my home was my parents house, then I found a small apartment and went to live by myself, I became more independent, eventually I graduated university, got a job etc. But I wasn’t truly independent,  my parents were always there, in the background, I knew that if I ever had a problem, any problem, they’d help me out. I had a safety net, I didn’t really need to grow up. Even after I got married and had the kids, I still felt like I was playing at being a wife and mother cause honestly that’s my mother. And then this year happened. This year I had an actual real problem, well, I didn’t, but my family did. And this year I realized something incredibly simple, that I simply had never thought of before.  Bad things can happen to me, bad things have. And safety nets are an illusion. My husband got sick, I had a baby and a toddler and I was so afraid of having to raise them on my own. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to say that, because we aren’t supposed to talk about the bad things, about our fears, we’re supposed to have faith, to believe that everything is going to turn out alright, of course we are. But, you know what, that’s not what happened to me. I heard Leukemia and my mind went into a loop of oh my God, my husband’s going to die and I’m going to be all alone. Selfish? Maybe, but true nonetheless. And then I thought, oh my God the kids, they’re going to grow up without their dad, and THAT became the really bad thing. And that’s when I realized that I’m the safety net now. If there’s a problem, if a bad thing happens, I have to deal with it. And I can. Of course, as I wrote in the very first posts, we’re lucky. My husband seems to be getting better, it looks like everything is going to turn out alright. And when my kids grow up they’ll realize that there is no real safety net, bad things happen, and you deal with them, but for now, they have us. Bad things happen, and you deal with them. That’s it.
What does all this have to do with being 35? Not an awful lot. Except that this year, I’m not so worried about my age. We get older, every year, there’s nothing that we can do about that and why should we? I guess that that’s what I learned this year, maybe I’m on my way to being an adult after all.


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