Sometimes I get tired of being the responsible one. The one who gets the kids up on time in the morning, makes their lunches for school, cajoles them into eating a healthy breakfast. The one who makes sure homework is done, teeth are brushed, and reusable water bottles are full so that everyone stays hydrated and the earth doesn’t suffer in the process. The one who’s pretending to be a real adult, because even though I don’t feel like one, there’s really no other choice. There are children to take care of, a house to maintain, pets to feed, and a career to keep up.Before I had all of these responsibilities, I didn’t appreciate my freedom. I didn’t understand what life would be like when it wasn’t just about me. When I would be woken up at 5:00am every morning by little children climbing into my bed, sticking their cold feet on my belly to warm them up, insisting they need me because they’re scared. I didn’t understand the urgency of fighting traffic to make it to daycare pick-up on time, or how hard it could be to visit a grocery store with a two-year-old. I didn’t know what it was like to have to set an example, constantly, all the time.
Now I’ve sacrificed all those little freedoms on the altar of parenthood, and of course I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would give it up all over again in a heartbeat. But sometimes I wish I could be more irresponsible. I wish that I could eat junk food for supper and sleep in, at all, ever. I wish I could spend my Sunday watching a movie marathon and eating ice cream out of the carton. In my underwear. While drinking wine. And swearing out loud without having to explain to anyone what that word means, and why you, as a seven-year-old, shouldn’t really use it.
Irresponsibility is so alluring to me these days. And so, once in a while, I rebel in small ways. I eat chocolate when no one’s looking. I turn on Saturday morning cartoons and plunk the kids down in front of the TV so that I can sleep longer. I stay up too late, almost every night. I let my kids sneak cookies and pretend I don’t see, because I don’t have the energy to call them on it. I hide in the bathroom to escape for a little while. Just little things, small things, that let me off the responsibility hook for a moment or two. These tiny rebellions allow me to maintain the illusion of independence, and let me feel as if it’s okay to get sick of being a grown-up.
And yet, I often find myself regretting my little moments of irresponsibility. Almost like clockwork, the night I stay up too late will be followed by the morning that my kids wake up too early. The bad word I slip up and say in front of my toddler will be repeated at full volume in the grocery store, in front of a throng of grandmotherly women. The cookies I let my children get away with pilfering will be all gone when I really need one. Irresponsibility comes at a price. And so I suck it up, and try to be responsible, even as I chafe against it. It’s tiring, but then pretty much everything is tiring these days. Why should setting an example for children be any different?
Do you ever rebel against responsibility? How do you do it? I’d love to hear!