Friday, September 2, 2011

Being a Grownup

As a parent, I do my best to try to instill good habits in my kids.  I serve vegetables and fruits at meals (even if they don't eat them); I enforce regular and reasonable bedtimes; I slather their alarmingly fair skin with sunscreen; and every night they brush their teeth enthusiastically if inefficiently.  They don't need guidance in how to spontaneously play or to scribble with abandon or to throw on wacky outfits.  They need guidance in how to grow up.

When it comes to myself:  well, I rarely get enough sleep, rolling out of bed with bleary grumpy protest every morning;  I put sunscreen on my face via my daily moisturizer but neglect the rest of my body;  I do brush every night, but flossing is a crapshoot.  As far as meals....well, I hate to cook.  I may need guidance in how to grow up too.

Tonight for dinner, my options were a PB&J, the leftover chicken and rice dish from last night, or heating up some soup.  Instead...I had lime-flavored chips with heaps of salsa verde and half a Diet Coke.  That's it.  The entire dinner.  And then I had dessert: ice cream with chocolate sauce.  And man, was it good!

Now before you get all preachy on me, this is not a typical dinner for me.  But you know what?  That was exactly what I wanted to eat tonight, and it was enormously satisfying.  I didn't binge.  I just ate what I wanted until I was full.  Granted, there was no nutritional value to that meal, but it's one meal out of one day.  I'll load up on veggies tomorrow.  And I'm not advocating emotional eating, bingeing, or eating disorders in any way, shape, or form.  What I'm trying to get at is......WOW, it really is great to be a grownup sometimes!  Because I'm in charge of myself, and I can totally have chips and ice cream for dinner!

Obviously if I do that all the time, I should probably put someone else in charge, but once in a while, it feels naughty and freeing and deeply satisfying.  Usually being a grownup means being responsible and paying bills and cleaning messes and delaying gratification and brushing and flossing and saving and ugh.  Now and then, it feels great to indulge.

So often we think of creativity as just that, as an indulgence.  Something we will do once the conditions are perfect.  A little silly fun once dinner is made and the kids are sleeping and the report is finished and the laundry folded and the emails answered and on and on.  But it isn't an indulgence.  Creativity is an essential human need.  I give you permission to follow your impulses.  Indulge, if that's how you must look at it.  Maybe an occasional meal of chips and ice cream isn't the worse thing, and maybe something that isn't responsible and nutritious for your maturity is just what you should do.  Maybe ten minutes spent scribbling your thoughts into a journal will be the most satisfying thing you did all day.  Maybe gluing together scraps of paper torn from magazines and newspapers and shopping lists and calendars becomes a piece of art you frame and keep on your desk as a reminder to indulge now and then.  Try splattering paint on a piece of paper willy-nilly and putting it on the refrigerator like you would if your kid had made it.  Or maybe it isn't even art:  do something naughty and freeing in the bedroom, cook dinner without a recipe, put away the laundry without folding it and take colorful pictures of the drawer.  We can be creative in our everyday lives as well as at our desks.  Give yourself permission to do something daring and unusual just this once.

Go ahead.  Indulge your creativity.  It's the best part of being a grownup!


  1. Love this (and not just because of the "permission" to have chips and salsa for dinner - girl after my own heart!!)! You're right, I tend to think of creative pursuits as an indulgence, and therefore shove it way down the list to be done when the "real" or "important" tasks are completed.

  2. And isn't it funny how we would never question or judge another, "real" artist's creative pursuits... i.e. I would never question Paul McCartney's decision to go see a movie in the middle of the day as a for inspiration. But he's an artist, creating, just like us. Why would he be justified and we would be lazy? arrr.