It was Thanksgiving, and I was in my backyard pulling weeds. It was a first of sorts, and in preparation to have some company over, I was trying to reclaim my patio pavement from the grips of roots that want to spread and grow as much as the rest of us.
I was thinking about the many milestones of adulthood, like realizing how much my parents did for me by simply staying up waiting for me to get home at night and packing me lunches everyday. Like coming to understand the importance of throw pillows, area rugs, and storage bins. Like actually picking ice up off the floor, rather than kicking the fallen cubes under the fridge. I think about it as I buy toilet paper in bulk, happily spend more for convenience, and every night when I take some sort of sick pleasure in doing the dishes.
As I was pulling weeds for one of the first times ever, all these images returned to me of adults from my childhood doing the same thing. I’d notice their hunched over posture amid play, and once, when I inquired, my uncle tried to get me to join in the work, much the same way I was trying to get my sons to. I remember thinking it sounded like great fun until I pulled one or two sprigs from the cracks in the concrete, and then I was positively over it. I had my fill for at least a decade. But there I was, just a few days ago, pulling weeds with that strange hint of enjoyment, impressed and confused about just how adult I’ve become. Wasn’t I nine just yesterday?
As I pulled a huge handful of grass, a scent was released that transported me back to my 9-year-old self. It smelled like bare feet and bee stings and New Jersey summers in my grandparents’ backyard. It smelled like slip n’ slide, juicy juice cans, and playing with my brother. It smelled like the 90’s, and as I returned from my trip back in time, I realized the woman hunched over wasn’t my mom, my endless source of comfort and love, but myself.
As I realize I’ve become the mom of my memories, I miss her, and the girl I used to be; the girl scooched up in between the front seats of the car listening to every conversation and singing as hard as she could to every Boyz II Men ballad. I think of my brother knocking me with his elbow and looking at me with disapproval because I sang “his line” and came in too early, but I don’t feel bitter, but longing for long days with the family that, in a way, got replaced. Even though they’re still mine, we don’t wake up watching Tom and Jerry in oversized shirts anymore, or pass the days with Donkey Kong and soccer games. We don’t rely on mom to feed us, and make everything better, in fact, that’s my job now. And as I watch my sons build their own childhood memories together, I’m the one preparing snacks, folding laundry, and yapping on the phone to my mom much the same way I remember her doing.
As the years go on, I settle into my new(ish) role more and more, but my fascination remains. Adulthood isn’t only witnessing the passing of time, but realizing that who we are is both, constant and changing. Although I’m the same person who remembers the smell of freshly cut grass in 1996, and walking to the pizza joint on cold winter evenings in new Christmas clothes, I’m also completely different, and it’s a bittersweet wonder.
- Pulling Weeds - November 25, 2017
- I Remember When My Sister Was Born… - November 7, 2017
- When Love Isn’t All Lighthearted Fun - November 4, 2017
- Why I Avoid Rewards and Punishments, and What I Do Instead - October 22, 2017
- The Unconditional Love of Children - October 8, 2017
- Why We Ignore Our Kids On Family Walks - September 13, 2017
- The Day I Swam Out to Save My Son - September 3, 2017
- My First Week Back to Work - August 27, 2017
- How Marriage Made Me More Myself - August 20, 2017
- Let Me Explain Why I’m Running Barefoot in My Nightgown - August 14, 2017