I really don’t feel like I am a 42 year old person. I am not sure what I thought I would feel like at age 42, but not this! I am supposed to be a grown-up, mature and measured. I am supposed to be confident and sure of myself, comfortable in my own skin all the time and responsible. I am supposed to not only set a good example but WANT to set a good example. And yet, I find myself suprised when I look in the mirror and find the slightly saggy, soft and squishy me looking back. I feel like I did 20 years ago and yet I look different. My body has definitely matured but my soul hasn’t that much. I still find myself hearing my mother’s voice in my ear when I get dressed and have chosen something ‘inappropriate’ for the day….like wearing shorts to a home visit or jeans to work. I still feel that the chores of everyday life shouldn’t be on my shoulders, after all I never did chores as a child. I feel far less confident than I thought I would about decisions I make as a parent and wonder if I am ever going to feel the way I perceived my mother as feeling: certain of nearly every choice she made. Of course I know my mom was no more sure of herself than I am and of course I know that I am making good choices and bad ones, just as she did and yet I wonder if I am doing it right.
When I was growing up, there seemed to be a clearer division between the generation of adults in life and the kids. The adults always looked the part in suits or dresses and always went on airplanes in their Sunday best. The adults always seemed so suave socially with grown up drinks and conversation. I still get really nervous before going out to an event where I may not know anyone. I don’t feel like I know what to say……I don’t remember my parents ever discussing poop with their friends! I have never felt like an adult despite doing all the things adults are supposed to do. I work hard, I am responsible and reliable and yet this seems to fall far short. I feel like I am parading around playing an adult while underneath it all lies a young and still insecure person feeling her way through the world.
In some ways it is because of this young person inside me that I am interested in going on this big adventure to open my own practice. People keep saying things like, “You are so brave!” but they just don’t get it. A teenager who goes to Julliard to become a musician isn’t brave or smart, she just doesn’t feel that there is any chance of failure and therefore feels no risk despite the fact that the jobs available for musicians are few and far between. As we get older, we are supposed to put that sort of thinking into perspective….still allow our dreams and passions some breathing room but only in the context of reality. Teenagers balance this sense of invinsibility with a fragility that is unmatched. A single word or look from the right person can turn them upside down. I am still a teenager. I am not brave, I am actually far from it. I just can’t imagine this venture could fail and I can’t imagine that despite all the ‘downsides’ to a solo practice that I won’t love every bit of it. I also know that through this journey, I am growing up and so far it isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Now will someone hold my hand at the party tomorrow night and do all the small talking for me? 🙂
Eat, love and play and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center