Trying to Rock It, Maturity-Style

Well this is just a simple song
To say what you’ve done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun

I’ve had this recurring nightmare.

You may not know that I love the show “How I Met Your Mother,” and not only because of the considerate and accurate way the series handled Robin’s diagnosis of infertility. I haven’t really been able to pinpoint why the show has resonated so strongly with me. But it has.

In my recurring nightmare, Ted Mosby is finally about to meet the mother. I do everything I can to twart this inevitable event (we know how, why and even when they will meet at this point in the series). I find this dream very, very odd.

I’ve been reading articles on the AV Club about the series, and they have identified (accurately, I believe) the overarching theme of the show: accepting maturity and the struggles this involves. Essentially, maturity means accepting that you no longer have endless choices. Maturity means you narrow your focus, you do what’s best as opposed to what’s fun or intriguing or may appeal to you in the moment. Maturity is not about the moment.

When I was just nine years old
I swear that I dreamt
Your face on a football field
And a kiss that I kept
Under my vest
Apart from everything, but the heart in my chest

“How I Met Your Mother” handles the discussion of what maturity means and what you lose when you embrace it. There are obvious benefits to maturity: security, stability, roots, a purpose. The American Dream is all about maturity. But very few cultural touchstones we watch or read handle what happenes when the obvious paths to maturity are lost, for reasons deliberate or not. That’s why this post is so interesting.

For so long, because my own path to maturity was blocked, I didn’t really consider what maturity represented and the losses that result once you are, well, mature. But since I started to work full-time again, I’ve started to consider those losses more fully.

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough, and play like a stone
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives, so critical
As this little home

My life in an upturned boat
Marooned on a cliff
You brought me a great big flood
And you gave me a lift
Girl, what a gift
When you tell me with your tongue
And your breath goes in my lungs
And we float over the rift

Living a live purely for the virtue of others is appealing in many ways. In order to provide the life we want for our children, both my husband and I have to sacrifice dreams of our own. I know this may sound incredibly selfish, but the truth is sometimes I just want to go get a pedicure, or work out not worrying about the health benefits but fully exerting myself, risking injury. Sometimes I want to have seconds of a delicious dish. But I know I must not.

Instead of weekends seeing friends, I rest and spend time exclusively with my children and husband. The work of the week has taken its toll and I’m tired.

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough, and play like a stone
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives, so critical
As this little home

Well this would be a simple song
To say what you done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun

We went to Bend, Oregon over Christmas, and in the car, on the way home from the slopes, “Simple Song” by The Shins came on. All four of us listened along, stunned by the song’s beauty.

At that moment I realized what my nightmares about trying to prevent Ted Mosby from meeting his wife meant.

I’m afraid of the overall embrace of maturity. I’m afraid of living life purely for others. I’m afraid of losing a part of a silly, fun yet essential part of myself.

The end of The Shins song is an actual end to “How I Met Your Mother”: the footfalls of the mother’s (admittedly cute) but heavy boots arrive to the sound of this tune at the end of last season. Those boots symbolize the end of many choices for Ted Mosby: we know he immediately marries the mother, and has two children (a boy and a girl) in short order.

I’m kind of dreading the end of the show. I like that a major popular series actually tackles a peroid of life so many don’t.

Remember walking a mile to your house
Aglow in the dark
I made a fumbling play for your heart
And the act struck the spark
You wore a charm on the chain that I stole
Especial for you
Love’s such a delicate thing that we do
With nothing to prove
Which I never knew

The Shins, “Simple Song”

Of course, as The Shins song states, there is great comfort in “not going it alone” and much, much happiness is to be found in the idea that our “little Homes” are the most critical part of our lives.

And sometimes, we just have to cling to that.

Do you sometimes find maturity to be stifling? Or are the rewards so great that you don’t mind being stifled?



Filed under Parenting After IF

5 responses to “Trying to Rock It, Maturity-Style

  1. I was just thinking about you at work this afternoon! I saw a shopper in a short yellow trench, maroon skirt, brown boots–reminded me of your fashion posts.

    I think about that often. What are we going to do when we have *our* kid, who’s with us all the time? We’ll have to be grownups seven days a week. It’s scary sometimes.

  2. I feel a little differently, I don’t mind the maturity that’s an inevitable consequence of having a family because I feel like I get the joy of discovery, silliness and enthusiasm that my kids have when they experience life as it unfolds. When we were at the beach over the Christmas holiday, JBB’s over awed enjoyment of the beach allowed me to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasure of swimming in the ocean, collecting shells and building sandcastles. P.S. I love How I met Your Mother too, great show!!!

  3. Esperanza

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too, how much I miss those days when I could just watch horrible reality TV all day and snack on shitty food and have a lovely old time. Now, to have a day like that, I’d have to put out my parents or my husband or someone… It’s hard to have to say goodbye to that part of my life completely. Sometimes I just want to go out and linger over a beer or a coffee. And even if I can steal those kinds of moments, it never feels like enough. I think, unless I could get away for a whole week, it will never be enough. And that is a scary thought.

  4. Sometimes I find it stifling. Especially now that I’m getting an itch to travel abroad soon. I don’t know if we can pull it off and it’s kind of depressing.

    ps. We recently got back from a vacation in Bend!

  5. Thanks for the plug for my post! And an interesting take on one of my favourite TV shows. I’m not sure that I find “maturity” to be “stifling.” But I do sometimes wonder why the heck Teenaged Me was in such a hurry to grow up…! :p

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