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Big Girls Don’t Cry ... We Just Go a Little Wild

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I have a mild allergy to adulthood.


Actually, I am not sure it is so mild. Responsibilities? Chores? Calendars? Taxes? Bills? Budgets? Wrinkles? Schedules? Stocks? These things give me existential hives.


And yet. I tolerate adulthood because I must. Because though I whine like a toddler and pout like a baby, I am an adult. Because at thirty-one, I am a big girl. Because there is no going back. I have no choice.


Why the allergy? I’m not entirely sure. It’s complicated. And these answers are cop-outs, but they are mine and I hold them dear. I think there are many reasons why I am having a hard time with this growing up business. One of them?


Wildness.


We adults—and particularly we perfect parents—are not encouraged to be wild. No. We are implored to be prudent and responsible and organized. We are supposed to make lists and plans and beds. We are expected to live within boundaries. We are supposed to color inside the lines. We are supposed to be civilized, to use our inside-voices at all times. We are supposed to be healthy and get sleep and drink lots of water.


We are expected to be good girls and boys.


But here’s the thing. Sometimes, I don’t want to be a good girl. Sometimes I want to go out and drink wine and dance and be young again. Sometimes I want to stay up past my bedtime and swim in deafening music. Sometimes, I want to scribble and shout and celebrate. Sometimes, I want to break rules.


Sometimes, I want to be wild.


It was a wild weekend.


And I’m tired. So tired. But I can’t stop smiling. Literally. Can’t stop. And this is not like me.


Friday night? Not so wild. Husband and I ate takeout on the coffee table and watched a DVRed episode of The Bachelor. But Saturday night? It was nuts. For me at least. I got dressed up. I looked hot. (Roar.) I wore heels. I sipped champagne with good friends. I laughed ceaselessly. I ate dinner at a swanky restaurant downtown at 10:30 p.m.! There were celeb spottings! (Tracy Morgan and Rachel Zoe.) We ordered the $75 truffle macaroni and cheese! At 1 a.m., I climbed a fire escape to a club where I savored more champagne and Red Bull until after 3 a.m.!


It was wild. Now it is worth mentioning that there are various species of wild. My wild? Not at all like a Tiger’s. There was no prowling, no misbehaving. I only talked to one man the whole night and he was our waiter. It was a girls’ night. On the grand scale of Wild Life, it was pretty tame. But for me, for this harried and happy mom, it was indeed wild.


And I came home and tumbled into bed next to my snoozing man. And four hours later, I was up. And a mom again. For the first half of the day, I was a shell of a person. My sentences had holes. But I stuffed them with little girl snuggles. I held court on the couch “supervising” and “delegating.” But I was so happy. I can’t explain it. I didn’t even remember it was Sunday.


And then. Last night. Husband and I met a handful of other couples to take over Wollman Rink in Central Park. We had the ice to ourselves. We skated into the night against a backdrop of city lights. Actually, I skated for about five minutes before retiring to the heated tent to sip hot chocolate. Another late night. A little less wild. But absolutely wonderful.


And this morning? I am so beyond shredded with exhaustion. Moving slowly. But quaking with awareness. That life is good. That I am where I should be. That this adulthood thing? It’s actually not half bad. I sit here at Starbucks near Toddler’s Preschool, sipping bitter coffee. Still smiling.


As I write this, I realize that it is okay to go back, to regress, to get wild once in a while. If only to remember. If only to realize that this place, this here and now, this tame territory, is quite lovely.


Thoreau said, “We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.”


So. I sit here. A person. A parent. An adult. A wild thing.


And today I make some vows. To allow myself to leave the nest from time to time. To permit myself to wade in the marshes, to lurk in tangled places, to surrender to the booming, to smell that sedge, to crawl with my belly close to the ground.


Today I pledge to protect my own wild life.


(Roar.)


Tell me about the last wild night you enjoyed. Tell me about your wildest night ever. Do you think we parents and people are encouraged to lose our wildness? Do you think it is important to protect our wild life even as we tread the territory of adulthood? Speaking of adulthood, are you allergic too? Do you think Tiger’s “issues” boil down to wildness or entitlement?

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