notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Inner Adult

I recently had a discussion about the “inner child” – the well-founded idea that there is a distinct part of us that is still the small child we used to be. In the concept of the inner child, our greatest joys and greatest fears arise from the child we used to be. What we loved then, we love even more now. What terrified us then still terrifies us.

I agree with this concept, except for the idea of “inner.” For me – and for most people I know – the child is right out there for everyone to see.

I am still that plain little girl vying for my share of attention – trying to find a bit of spotlight for myself in the shadow of an older sister who was clearly a  genius and another older sister who was a talented – and funny – musician. Every time I write something or draw a little cartoon – I am the same little girl shouting, “See? I have skills! Look at me!”

And my husband is still the same asthmatic little boy who wants to be strong and healthy and independent. The boy who can fix a car and a furnace and anything else. The boy out chopping wood right now with a neighbor who is at least 20 years younger.

And then there’s my friend who is traveling by herself to the exotic places that she used to circle on maps in the family encyclopedia.

My cousin whose Christmas cards reflect the awe he found more than 50 years ago, when seeing the stars through his first telescope.

The coworker at my previous employment who became paralyzed at the thought of any decision-making –  “What if I am wrong?”

No – most of us do not have to get in touch with our inner child. We are still the blatantly the children we have always been. It is the adult that we only see glimpses of now and then.

These moments of adulthood are often attached to milestone events – getting our driver’s license, becoming a parent, the first time you file your tax return. Oh dear, you think, I seem to be an adult.

But it doesn’t last. Soon you are back to the elation of setting off firecrackers and the misery of your boss’s (i.e., parent’s) wrath, and hoping your friends will still like you after than dumb thing you said.

Sometimes the glimpse of the inner adult happens with small events too.

I was nineteen the very first time I felt like an adult. I was commuting to college and still living at home, in my twin-bed bedroom with the bright green walls, my brother in the next room building model airplanes and my mother making dinner.

I needed a new bathrobe, and I went to the department store. There were tons of pink and aqua fuzzy bathrobes. There was chenille and there was flannel. There were big pom-pom buttons and head-to-knee zippers.

But there was one bathrobe that stood out. Black. It was a floor-length wrap-around velour robe. With a leopard print shawl collar. I put that bathrobe on over my bell-bottom jeans and love beads. And I was transformed. I was a woman.

I came downstairs to breakfast the next morning, fully expecting either reprimand or ridicule from my mother. She said nothing.

And I wore that bathrobe for the next thirteen years. I wish I had it now.

I could use just a bit of adulthood right at this moment.

 

bathrobe

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Even though I’ve never thought much about it, I think you’re right! And it is quite liberating to consider myself more of a child than an adult! Yahoo!

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    • I pretend I am an adult, but I always feel like a stupid little kid inside.

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  2. What an interesting take on things. And it makes sense, too!

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    • Yes, I know I’m the same little attention-seeking kid. My blog feeds that need quite well.

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  3. Chris

    I’ll always remember how much you loved that bathrobe – it was a defining moment. You know, I always felt a little guilty about finally throwing out those encyclopedias – especially the issue with the maps – it was such a nice memory. I spent hours just turning those pages and trying to imagine what those places looked like. Now, I may not be heading back to the Arctic anytime soon, but I plan to spend January and February after I retire in San Miguel de Allende – won’t you come too? If not, maybe you could hike the Camino de Santiago with me. Let me know.

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    • Mexico in the winter sounds pretty wonderful. I didn’t know you as a little kid, but I have always been able to picture you daydreaming over the maps, since you shared that memory with me. To me, it was a memory of you that made so much sense to me!

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      • Chris

        You wanted that bathrobe because it made you feel glamorous. We both had pin straight hair and always felt so plain. When I lived in the UK, I bought a full-length bathrobe from Marks & Spencer that was brushed cotton and it made me feel very elegant.

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  4. I love the concept of letting your inner child out to play! Too often our outer grown-up shuts the door!

    And, speaking of our “inner child,” an older friend who (several years before I started to experienced them), used to say as she was in the midst of a hot flash, “My inner child is playing with matches again.” I’m pretty sure she didn’t make that up, but I think of that often while I’m feeling the burn.

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    • I want the joy side of the inner child. Too often I am the fearful side. I am very insecure for a secure person.

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  5. I think even when we’re adults we keep the child close by. I bet when your adult walked down the stairs in the gorgeous robe the child was thinking, “Woah! What if I step on the bottom of this and fall down the stairs It’s really too warm in this I wonder if Bonnie ever wore one of these These cramps are killing me I wonder where my jeans are?” Admit it…we never really grow up…

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    • If I remember correctly, I was afraid that my mother would think I was foolish. But a big part of me was thinking…. “This is SO COOL!”

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  6. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

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  7. Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional!

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    • As far as I’m concerned, growing old is avoidable too! Let’s stay kids forever.

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  8. I’m all for bringing forth the inner child, and so wish I’d had the chance to purchase a gown such as yours!

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  9. Oh what memories of my inner child that you were such a huge part of. You will remember what a shy kid I was but I always look back to the days of our growing up that made me the “grownup” I am today. You left the neighborhood just as I was getting ready to leave our childhood school. Your leaving left me very alone and scared that I would never have a “best friend” again. Going to high school, and a second chance at making new friends, I forced myself to come out of my shell. And I DID it. I made myself humorous, friendly, and because no one there knew how insecure I was, I became extroverted as compared to my introverted self. To this day I always regretted not keeping in touch, but second chances come around once again, and here we are, 50 years later, reminding ourselves of a wonderful childhood we had together.

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  10. Goodness me! I have exactly the same dressing gown, and still cannot bear to part with it, even after oh, is it really twenty years? I love it so much I have been considering getting one specially made for me. Obviously we both have great taste! I too, wear my inner child on the outer.

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  11. Great blog! My husband and I know that we are children. One day we plan on getting matching shirts that say “Forever Five.” Meanwhile, the only time I feel like an adult is when i begrudgingly pay my bills, especially the mortgage.

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  12. Nineteen! Wow. There are days I still don’t feel like an adult, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

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