Ten years ago, I learned how to ride my bike without training wheels. My parents took me to the nearby park and told me to just bike in circles. Some 25 laps in, I looked at them and they smiled back with amusement, excitedly pointing down. I looked down at my bike and my training wheels had just fallen off. I felt like a big kid, then I fell down.
As a “big kid,” life was still easy. After school, my sister and I would go to our daycare, the Child Development Center, affectionately known as CDC. We chased each other on the playground, played computer games, and bragged about biking without training wheels. My mother would pick us up on the dot at 6 p.m. and that was our life, my childhood—relaxed and simple. What I didn’t realize was that there was more to the picture, more stress and more complexity.
I only discovered this truth recently. I just learned how to drive and was complaining to my mom about traffic. She chuckled with raised eyebrows and said that I didn’t know the first thing about stressful traffic. That stressful traffic is what you see when you leave the office at 5 p.m., the peak of rush hour, because you can’t leave work earlier. Stressful traffic is what you see when your husband has to work until 7 p.m. and you have to pick up your kids from CDC which charges you if you don’t come by 6 p.m. Stressful traffic is being stuck bumper to bumper almost in tears because you’re a mother who works.
All those carefree childhood days were actually marked by my mother’s struggle to keep up with adulthood. But that’s how growing up works. And my recent transition to adulthood mirrored my transition into “big kid-hood” when I got my driver’s license and once again, the training wheels just fell off.
I’m not a mother and I don’t work but for the first few months after getting my license, I was always almost in tears as well — the weight of that expensive car, my safety, every other driver’s safety, the price of my insurance, and my parents’ trust made me see what it means to be an adult. Adulthood followed me outside the car— I need to drive my sister to soccer, leave the house before the sun rises to beat traffic, save my allowance just for gas.
Throughout high school, I’ve faced responsibility here and there, but I hadn’t faced adulthood until driving threw me into it . This fear of messing up, inherent to adulthood, has hit me recently as I face graduation in one week. Without the comfort of training wheels, this fear seems to loom ominously especially without an Adult Development Center, ADC shall we say, to run to. But for every bump in the road, I’ll just have to continue forward.