3 under 3: When do grown-up’s grow up?

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  • Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy talks about how being a grown-up doesn’t mean that you feel grown-up…

    ‘A few weeks after my last little baby had her momentous 1st birthday, we have another milestone in the family. This week, the girls’ granny dusted off her slippers, picked up her bus pass, and embraced turning 60. We have, of course, been ribbing her mercilessly at every opportunity, supplying old lady animal fleeces and senior citizen theatre tickets. But the thing is, she’s not old. Not even remotely. She doesn’t look old, she doesn’t act old, she just isn’t at all, well, old.

    I’ve worked out that when I was the twins’ age, my own grannies were both almost the same age as my mum is now. I was blessed with four feisty grandparents, each with years of fun left in them. But still, to me back then, they were ancient, a lifetime away from everything I knew. I remember even more clearly, as I grew up, wondering when the change came. When you grew up. When you knew everything. Like my parents did.

    Because parents do know everything, don’t they? They’ve taken some class, passed some test, got some kind of certificate? When you’re a kid, you just assume grown-ups know something you don’t. You just assume life can be planned and organised and controlled.

    I remember as a teenager discussing how it would go. I’d go to uni and have a blast, then settle down and meet Mr Right aged 24, get married at 26, first child at 28, second at 30… All worked out into neat, two-year chunks. Turns out I did seem to stick to that part of it, albeit a bit late, and completely by accident. I got together with my husband at 26, got engaged at 28, married at 30, the twins came when I was 32, and I had M when I was 34. (NB this does make me a little nervous for next year, when I turn 36…) But even when I was expecting G and T, I was still waiting for the revelation, for the knowledge of what to actually do with them to magically drop into my brain. It was only when I finally became a mum that I realised that we all just make it up as we go along. As far as I can tell, all parents are just muddling along, trying to get it right and hoping not to get anything too big too wrong. I find it very odd to be on the other side of the equation.

    Soon, the girls will presumably start looking to me as an example of what their lives hold. Will they think I know it all, too? Will they assume I have some insider knowledge? That I’m an actual grown-up? Just like I was sure my mum could have no earthly idea what it was like to be a teenager, the angsts and the desperate need to be cool (turns out, she spent her youth sneaking out to beach parties, handing out flowers to tourists, and generally being very cool indeed), I’m sure my girls already see me as a strange alien creature. They can’t imagine that I was ever like them, and they sure as hell are never going to be old like me. Or like their granny. Sixty is a world beyond their imaginations, just like it was beyond mine all those years ago. They have their whole lives to live first. And I can’t wait to be here to watch every minute.

    Yes, they’ll inevitably grow away from me, love me, then resent me, and know for certain that I have no idea what it’s like to be them. But one day, they’ll become mums too and when I pick up my bus pass and slippers, they’ll suddenly get it too. You don’t ever have to grow up if you don’t want to. They’ll always be my babies, even if we’ll always be a lifetime apart.’

    Did you always believe that you would instantly feel grown-up when you had kids? Tell us about your experience in our comments section below or on Facebook.

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