Someone asked me once, when did I realize that I had become a grown up. I didn’t have to ponder very long for an answer. The defining moment for me was the day my 18-month old decided (without previous consultation with me) that his bedroom walls, floor, and crib needed painting. Now all in all, that wouldn’t be a problem, even for an 18-month old; messy but doable. It was his choice of color and its subsequent odor I objected to. The content of his diaper was the choice of my budding Picasso.
At 19 ½ years old, in nursing school with a toddler, I thought I was pretty responsible, only calling Mom for advice and assistance 4-5 times per week. When the normal time for my son to wake from his nap had come and passed, I tiptoed over to listen at the door. The silence broken from time to time with the giggle only a small child can emit, “Ah, he’s playing quietly”, I thought to myself as I went back to my book on Anatomy and Physiology. 30-minutes passed without notice, until loud peels of laughter interrupted my study. As I walked closer to his door, I detected that certain smell which let me know it was time to do my least favorite duty, or so I thought.
I opened the door to a sight and smell that still causes my eyes to roll up into the back of my head, even after he is grown with children of his own. The walls of his bedroom were smeared with childish abandon in diaper goo. The rails of the crib looked as if a large hand covered in melted chocolate had attempted to polish each and every one from top to bottom. Where the rug left off and wood floors commenced, there were swirls of a brown smelly substance that needed no investigation. In his attempt to create a masterpiece, my son was covered head to toe with his “paint.” Upset as I was, my son’s two large eyes dancing and blinking at me in happy innocence, wiped away any trace of exasperation I could have felt.
In shock I realized that THIS was something I could NOT call my mother for help, as I had so frequently done during the 18-months of being a young single, mother. It was one of those things that I must take care of on my own in a timely manor, without procrastination. As I spent the next hour or two cleaning, it occurred to me…
Yes, I had indeed become a grown-up.