January 13, 2015

A Love Note to the Traditional Grown-up.

 Jenn White 2 (do not reuse)

I’m sitting here writing this with a baby nursing in my lap.

I am no stranger to exposed breasts.

I am no stranger, either, to the excitement and curiosity of new people and places and of moving, traveling and living life how I choose rather than according to an arbitrary rule book.

I support equality (and, thus, gay marriage and choosing no marriage or children regardless of mate preference, for that matter).

I’m, in many ways, a rebel at heart.

I’ve not shaved my legs or armpits, dabbled in social taboos and, most generally speaking, don’t mind making noise.

However, one thing I’ve learned through my experimentation is that making noise for the sole purpose of making it is not a grown-up thing to do. I’ve also learned that part of being good at being a grown-up is to realize that I’ll never quite be grown and to find both the humility as well as the joy within that reality.

I’m sitting here with a baby upon my lap, nibbling at my breast. My husband and daughter are in the other room, folding laundry.

I’ve chosen, obviously, marriage and “two kids” and living in a house and cooking dinner most nights of the week.

I’ve chosen, too, the laundry being stacked in the same piles on the same shelves and the toys and books stored and stashed in nearly the same spots each night.

For example, this chair sits in the same little corner of my kitchen, right next to the oven. This chair was my Nana’s.



This golden shawl is from my sister.

This diaper bag was lovingly crafted by an artist friend.

All of these things were, for a time, anally cared for and protected before becoming familiar and still cared for, but also treated with less controlling caution. Frankly, they are now loved and routinely normal, though still special.

But that’s how life is: routine and normal and wonderful, with bursts of new and snazzy and different. And despite the familiar and known being occasionally taken for granted or having a different kind of sparkle—one that has nicks and snags and wrinkles—it’s precisely this pure joy and to-the-bone-marrow love that makes me truly happy and filled with life.

I’ll always choose old jeans, my twenty-year relationship and the daily grind of parenthood over anything else.

I’ll choose the mailbox that mostly contains bills, the yoga practices in the same tiny room in the back hallway of my house, and the sweater that smells just a touch because I’ve worn it three days in a row.

And there may be times when I want to fly away from it all.

There may be moments when I want to run wildly down a beach I’ve never dug my toes into, or instances when the burdens of my “traditional” choices seem both overwhelming and underwhelming simultaneously.

But, this brings me to the most important thing I’ve learned so far: life has, for each of us, a different calling and thrill and my most grown-up knowledge is the acute awareness that not every grown-up is anything like I, and that my own days of running wildly had me, mainly, running from myself and not into the greatest excitement of my life.

And, though not everyone wants to write with a baby nursing in her lap, I do. (Even if I’m also more than okay should my own gulping baby not, someday, choose to have her own.)

And, although a chair is just a chair, and a shawl is just a shawl, and a diaper bag is only a cloth place to put my other things, I know that, in their own ways they are symbols of many different feet standing on flat hard wood to learn how to cook, and knit hugs when my sister is across the state, and sewn transportation so that I can make new memories with my babies.

In short, I’ll take what is the mundane life to some, because, to me, there is divine brilliance there.



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Author: Jennifer S. White

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: author’s own 

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