Welcome to the . . .
“Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”
— Walt Disney
This month, the Museum of Me is featuring exhibits about growing up . . . or . . . what we most looked forward to about growing up. As a 63-year-old who very much embraces Walt Disney’s words (the part about growing up being optional), I still have trouble thinking of myself as a “grown up.” And I realize how silly that must sound, but it’s true.
What I discovered while developing this month’s exhibit is that . . . my notion of what it means to “grow up” is a moving target, and – for me, it has changed quite a lot as I’ve “grown older.”
In childhood, for example . . .
when I thought about growing up, it was all about living-large-and-in-charge! As a child, I believed I would grow up to (1) be beautiful, (2) be married to Donny Osmond (or maybe Bobby Sherman), and (3) live in the Brady house. I’d be a ballerina. Or maybe an astronaut. I’d definitely be an Olympic swimmer. I’d write books — and illustrate them myself. I’d be as cool as Marcia Brady, and I’d have a tree house in my backyard just like the Swiss Family Robinson. And – for sure – I’d never eat another pea. I’d go to bed whenever I wanted, and I’d read at the table, and I’d have ice cream every day. I could choose when to wear socks and shoes – and it wouldn’t be often. When I was a child, pretty much anything seemed possible for me — and no one ever discouraged my “dreaming big.”
As the days moved ahead, though, my ideas about growing up shifted. By my early teen years . . .
when I thought about growing up, it was all about independence and defiance! By the time I started high school, I was chafing against home-rules and school-rules and peer-rules, and I was desperate for my independence. I wanted to grow up to be more like . . . Mary Tyler Moore than Marcia Brady. I wanted a cool, single-gal apartment like Mary’s, and I dreamed of a wardrobe straight out of Seventeen magazine. I knew by then that I’d never be an astronaut or a ballerina (although I was still hanging on to the Olympic swimmer dream; hey. . . it could happen), but I had new interests . . . psychology or architecture. Even fashion design, maybe! But what I really wanted . . . was to be on my own with no one telling me what to do or where to be or what to wear or how to act. I wanted a car. I wanted to escape. And I craved making my own decisions! (And if I opted to have bare legs with my short skirts, I’d be the only one to suffer.)
By the time I was nearly finished with college and getting so close to actually growing up that I could almost taste it, I found things shifting again. . .
When I thought about growing up, I was totally clueless and dangerously dreamy — yet so dang sure of myself! By age 20, I’d given up the notion of an exotic career or a cool apartment or a fashion magazine wardrobe. I just wanted to find a teaching job and live close to my boyfriend. Plan? Wasn’t that plan enough? Making enough money to maintain an apartment and feed myself . . . that was my plan! It was beginning to sink in . . . that growing up was not all it had been cracked up to be! Responsibility. Tedium. Stress. Not quite what I’d been expecting. But . . . I lived in Dr. Scholl sandals almost year-round, and had been reading at the table for years by this point. No peas ever, and I could eat ice cream anytime I could afford it. Pretty awesome. But no one ever told me I’d be so tired.
Skipping ahead several decades, we’ve got me. Now. Age 63 . . .
And still wondering what it might be like to grow up, actually! Sure. I AM a grown up. I’ve been a responsible adult for a long time now. I’ve been married for decades (to that boyfriend, y’know?). I’ve raised two kids — and several animals. I’ve paid off mortgages and traveled the world and changed careers enough times to make your head spin. I’ve lost my mother, taken on care for my father, saved enough money to “retire” early. I eat very few peas, but as much ice cream as I want. I wear sandals or flipflops 10 months of the year. Technically, I’m a grown up.
But I still find myself wondering what life might be like . . . when I grow up!
“Growing old is unavoidable, but never growing up is possible. I believe you can retain certain things from your childhood if you protect them – certain traits, certain places where you don’t let the world go.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thanks for visiting the Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each month. (For now, that link will still send you back over to Stepping Away From the Edge. Eventually, I’ll be relocating the entire Museum of Me here to the new blog, but I haven’t managed that yet.)
If you’re a blogger and you’d like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I’ll send you my “exhibit schedule” (a list of monthly prompts) and we can tell our stories together.
I think we all felt pretty much the same Kym – wanting to be on our own with no rules and no one telling us what we HAD to do or HAD to wear, etc. And then, we gradually got older and things didn’t seem as hunky-dory in the adult world. Too many responsibilities! But I’m with you on the “growing up” thing – there are days when I still feel like I’m 12 years old! My one brother (who is 75) thinks of himself as 17 years old!
Posts like this one are part of the reason that I love The Museum of Me! The photos are great (there is a lot going on in that first one!) and we learn something real and meaningful about the participants that I don’t think can be shared in many other ways. I like how your thoughts about growing up changed and matured, but you are still holding onto that core of eating ice cream when you want and wearing sandals for most of the year. Congratulations on protecting those parts of your childhood while still being a responsible adult!
I periodically find myself wondering when I’ll finally feel like a real adult — and it sounds like I might never get there, and that’s okay! I will applaud you on finding a way to spend as much time as possible with that boyfriend!
All I can say is….YOU! And a real and deep and true and beautiful life.
This morning I was (really!) considering how I don’t feel that different and how am I 63? I still ride the cart in the grocery store parking lot and laugh at very ridiculous things. But here we are grown and responsible. I guess we can say fortunately we got this part right. (And that last picture – tip top.)
That photo of you and Tom is adorable.
I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am 67. People 67 are old! LOL In my head I don’t feel old. My hips ………..well they disagree in the most disagreeable way some days.
Part of growing up is to never admit you’re grown up (or at least act as if you’ve never grown up). I can pay my bills and take care of my condo (not a house or yard) so I know my limits.. 🙂
YES to all of this! I loved hearing about how your goals for being a grown up changed over the years. I think you’re a very successful grown up and agree that it doesn’t really feel like what I thought it would feel like. Also, I didn’t know you had an aversion to peas! LOL
This is just so lovely, Kym! I love the photographs! They are just so awesome! (And I am dying over those Dr. Scholl’s sandals… those were the most painful things ever! HA)
I used to wonder what my grandmother meant when she told me she still felt like a young girl inside, now I know just what she meant! I recently turned 68 and I’m glad that I don’t feel too grown up. I had a successful career, I can take care of myself and meet my needs, but I still enjoy having fun and being silly with family and friends.