Like many young adults, once I was out of my mom’s house and on my own, I went through a loooong phase of doing things I wasn’t allowed to do when I was under her roof.
These weren’t many–my mom was (is!) extremely cool and of the “I’d rather you have sex with birth control in the house than without in the backseat of some dude’s car” school of progressive upbringing. And it worked. No way was I going to have sex in my mother’s house. Eewww! OK, I did a couple of times, but only when she was away and I absolutely used birth control. She had a similar attitude about most other things (“Go where you want but use your head, stay with your friends and take a cab home and call me anytime.”) I don’t know if it was because I had a lot of common sense or because of what she said, but I never even had a close call.
Maybe because I had such a long leash, I had tiny, mostly food-related rebellions, and to this day, there are still things I eat not because I truly want them most of the time, but because we didn’t have them in the house back in the day. These include Froot Loops and Apple Jacks, pre-packaged snack cakes, candy of any variety, and halvah, we we did have, but only when guests were expected, so I would stealthily shave off slivers that I thought would go unnoticed but never did.
Sugar cereal is hardly crack cocaine, I realize, but the compulsion to eat these mostly icky, processed, disgusting “foods” has remained strong over the years. And yesterday, one of these came into my possession: My daughter had made a Froot Loops necklace in Girl Scouts. I was cleaning out her backpack and there it was, little pieces of lint stuck to the neon-bright mini donuts strung on a piece of yellow yarn.
Instinct took over. I looked around to make sure I was alone. Then I watched in horror, a bit outside myself, as I lifted the vile, crumbling piece of food art that had been in there at least two days to my mouth and…
Something stopped me! I don’t know what it was, exactly. I doubt it was how gross it was. I’ve eaten worse in a pinch. And it’s not because my sweet tooth has faded any. My best guess? That I’m over it, finally, the idea that I am prevented from doing or having anything simply because those were the rules when I was a kid. I am mom now, and no way do I buy Froot Loops to have in the house. But you know what? I could! I’m the grownup. Nyah! If I thought Froot Loops were indeed part of a balanced breakfast, I could just go to the damn store and buy them and serve them to my girls until their teeth fell out. But I don’t, because they’re not. Yes, as an adult I can choose to rot my teeth and I often do. But Froot Loops? Gross. Really. And they always were.
So I’m kind of psyched. I feel a teeny bit freer, in the one of those ways–you can stay up as late as you want, and watch horror movies that may well give you nightmares–that it’s kind of cool to be an adult. I’m 43. You’d think I’d have hit this mark before, but I’m glad I’m here now.
Do you guys have any parallel experiences? Things that you no longer feel you need to do to assert your right to do them?