I think we all tend to grow more reflective as an impending birthday draws closer. I had an interesting conversation with Tom last night on that subject, and I hope he won't mind if I share it. (If you hate this, T, just tell me and I will delete it.)
Tom was telling me that on his birthday last year, he realized that he had become the age that Ben was when he was born. I think it freaked him out a bit, and he told me that he felt totally unprepared to become a parent even now, a year later. "I'm still a kid myself," he said, "I have so much growing up to do yet." I hastened to agree with him - heck, yes, he is still a kid. My kid. And Kristy is a kid and Julie and Andrew and all their other same-aged friends are still just kids. That is my emotional response to the thought of any of them becoming parents.
When I look at it rationally, however, they are all at least in their mid-20s heading into their late 20s now. The same ages Ben and I were when they were born. None of them are emotionally-stunted or immature, but they seem so much younger to me than we did at the same age. Why is that? I think one reason is that my generation has consciously or unconsciously (or perhaps a bit of both) tried to keep their generation feeling like children.
I don't think it was done maliciously. Like much of our generation, Ben and I always wanted to raise our children differently, better, than we were raised. Although my dad never made me feel as though he resented spending money on me, Ben had a different experience. As he was growing up, his father made it abundantly clear to him that as soon as Ben turned eighteen and became an adult in the eyes of the law, all of his father's support and obligations to him, legal and otherwise, came to an end. We never set a use-before date for the love and support we offer Tom and Julie. It is endless.
However, this loving attitude has a bonus, if you will, for my generation which I think must be acknowledged. As long as they stay children, we stay young. If we are forced to recognize this generation as adults, parents even, what does that make us? Well, grandparents, of course, and, let's face it, older rather than younger.
I have a feeling this new way of looking at things was invented by us bounteous baby boomers, but I could be wrong about that. This is certainly the first time I have ever been this age, and I suppose it's possible that each generation feels this way about the subsequent one. Some further research in this area may be required. I've been thinking about driving out to see my dad, anyway. Stay tuned for updates.
Note: I suspect this post assumes way more responsibility for the way our children think than we actually have. But, hey, it's my blog, and the opinions expressed herein are mine and this is where I express them. See?