Growing up. We all do it. Some of us do it really, really fast. Some of us, like me, take their time to do it. Many of us live in denial that it ever really needs to happen at all. The Peter Pans of this world cling on to the last taste of youth and/or immaturity through fear of what is on the other side. This can lead to that imposter syndrome, which I talk more about here. It can mean lots of happy times enjoying what is arguably one of the most fun stages life has to offer. But, all good things must come to an end.

So, what happens when that denial dries up? Do you have to admit defeat to adulthood? Or can we still laugh and tag our friends in childish and silly memes forever and ever?

Out with the old

It is the season of letting go of the past. As the autumn leaves fall, we’re reminded of the beauty of not holding on to things which are no longer for us. The changes that have recently happened in the life of TJ’s dad have made it possible for me to accept the end of an era. It has helped me to finally reach true closure. The bachelor pad has been replaced by a new family home. Despite a couple of wobbles from me and from him, TJ seems to have taken to it really well. I hope we will both be able to reap the benefits of the new circumstances.

But, with the new head space I now have comes new emotions. They’re ones which I wasn’t really expecting as well. This coincides with getting back into the dating game once again. There’s excitement for what the future may hold and also fear of what may come too. I have bags of nerves about getting hurt again. But, there’s also acceptance that there could be a new and fulfilling chapter ahead for me still.

Is that growing up? Is it accepting that things may go well … but also that they may not? Life experience brings with it emotional development both of the positive and negative variety. I will never lose my child-like faith in the beauty, honesty and integrity of others. But, I will expect to get my fingers burnt a little along the way. That’s a good thing. Those life experiences make us who we are. We learn more about how to meet those inevitable challenges head on and not let history repeat itself.

That’s growing up.

Go shorty

The other very important person in my life who is growing up faster than the speed of sound and loving every minute of it is TJ. That little boy of mine is now four-years-old – and all parents know what comes with that year. No, not a continuing and seemingly never ending stream of general ridiculousness – the school applications. When I moved back to the village I grew up in, one of the major attractions of the location was its proximity to a really decent school. So after a school visit, where I sat in the front row and took notes, I filled in the form on the day the applications opened. I will now wait until the middle of April, with all the other anxious parents, to see how the council has decided our fate.

Being an October baby, TJ will be one of the eldest in his year. Many experienced parents told me that he would be ‘so ready’ for when that first day at school arrived. I didn’t really know what they meant until very recently. Although that little dude loves preschool, his mind is a sponge and he is soaking up all that stuff about life at the next stage. His curious interest in everything, emotional  maturity and developing independence are making him into the little man he will be. That’s growing up.

A lot of TJ’s growing up I have got used to. He wants to help around the house, we can have proper conversations and he joins in with everything around him. But, other times, he will catch me off guard. For example, he got himself undressed from a day out and dressed into his pyjamas on his own the other evening. I didn’t know he could do that. I guess that’s a skill he has picked up at daddy’s house … but no one filled me in about how that part of my job was now over. 

Life skills

I am not going to mourn the passing of those somewhat tedious jobs which come with early parenting as TJ does a great job of growing up. Every life stage TJ will go through will bring with it new demands for me, him and everyone else who keeps him happy, healthy and a good human. It teaches us all new things along the way.

When I look back at some of my old blogs, particularly on parenting, I know I have come so far. Actually, all of us have. But we’re all still learning – in the classroom or otherwise. The old adage that every day is a school day is definitely true for us as 2019 comes to a close. I can only hope that all those lessons pay off in 2020 and whatever the New Year may bring with it.

So, growing up may just be about physical and emotional maturity. It’s about capability in areas of life which may have seemed difficult, or even impossible, before. TJ is getting there in so many ways … and so am I. 2019 has been a significant year of growth and finding my feet on the previously uncertain and unsteady ground. But, as a mid-30-something, that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy the comedy in the stupid and the joy of the ridiculous as I do my best at playing the grown up role which I have been assigned. Isn’t life a bit boring without the odd dick joke anyway?!