Last Friday sitting in a Marriott hotel room with a wallop of a migraine, I listened to my delightful cousin Kerrie tell a story about one of her co-worker’s parenting strategies. In truth, it was a story of true Southern caliber and beyond my ability to retell. The moral of the story: “he’s a grown ass man”. After about a dozen repetitions of the phrase, each spoken with her heavily accented, extra syllable laden South Alabama tongue, the phrase grew in power and impact. What do you do when you are a grown-ass-man? What is expected of you when you are a grown-ass-woman? There is no more grace, no do-overs, no take backs, no safety nets and no parental rescue. You’re a grown-ass-man (or woman). That means no one else pays the bills, fills the fridge, sets the table and serves the plates. No one else cleans the dishes or does the laundry. No one hands you an allowance, packs your lunch box or writes you an note to excuse you from 5th and 6th period.
I have two sons. They are still boys. They like being boys. They like having a Mommy that bakes them cookies and folds their laundry and hands them $2 for double ice cream treats at Friday lunch. I like being the Mommy that sews the curtains (or Halloween costumes). I like – nay, LOVE – that they are not yet grown-ass-men. There is time enough for that. I pray that I will be blessed with many years of watching them figure out how to be grown-ass-men. I realize finally that I might capitulate and flail, wail in protest and denial but there is no escaping the hard fact.: I am a grown-ass-woman.
It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a pretty amazing realization. I’ve known this but my cousin’s riotous story telling has rung in my mind for days. And like every occasion in which I have gotten my bell rung, I stagger to my feet and wait for reality to return. You have to just stand there for a bit and wait for the world to stop heaving and pitching. I am a grown-ass-woman. I am not a child. I am not a little girl. I have no safety net and no Daddy Warbucks benevolently handing out cash and praise, mansions and servants. What I have is me. I am a grown-ass-woman and I have two stunning and courageous sons who will soon (enough) be their own grown-ass-men. They’ll learn this lesson, they are learning this lesson slowly and gently and I suspect one day abruptly that time has come for them to be grown up, too. But for the moment, I will enjoy being their Mommy. And for the moment, I will revel in the audacity of being a fully realized grown-ass-woman. It’s a good thing.