Parenthood makes you mature. But what if you don’t have any kids?

I’ve been thinking about this a bit. Maturity. I realised I’ve not really grown up. But I’m getting there. At 44.

I was swimming across Bondi beach (where good thoughts often come to me), reflecting on a chat I’d had recently with my friend Rebecca. She has three kids, a full-time job, writes books and generally helps mates out. That’s how her ethical code works.

When she had her youngest two kids (twins), she tells me, she remembers standing in the shower (having a few minutes respite) and thinking to herself, “where does this strength come from?”.  She’d not slept for days. She was balancing …everything. She was spent. Yes, every day, she got up and did the work. We talked about this kind of mature strength. Resolved strength. Resigned strength. The kind that sees you suck it up, do the work, and not fob the tough stuff off to someone else, or blame someone for your predicament.

“That’s maturity,” I said. “You go down into the hard work, sit in it, own it, see it as it is. And you don’t bloody flee.” This way, you see what you need to see. And then you grow up.

As I swam across Bondi I realised lot of people grow up when they have kids. They have to. I see it in a lot of my friends. They dedicate all their energy and love to another beyond themselves. They surrender. They give without question. Almost numbly. They cease grasping outwards for validation, entertainment, a salve. Not all parents, of course. But many. I watch the humble shift and am duly impressed. Illness can do the same. Or some other big, harsh experience which takes you down to your base self.

For the rest of us, we have to find other ways to go down and into it. We’re not forced into maturity. We have to go there on our own. Which, I think, can be harder.

I think this kind of maturity entails learning to sit in your shit.

I made this bed (I had these kids?), now I do the work. I got myself here, it would be really pointless trying to blame someone else. I can look at myself in that mirror, now I must face my ugliness.

In first, we make the beast beautiful I discuss sitting in one’s shit extensively. Our shit can be described as a particular kind of uncertainty that leaves us very anxious. Who am I? Who knows the answers? Who can sort this for me? Who is to blame for this pain? There’s a bit in the book where I reference Pema Chodron’s philosophies that she shares in her wonderful book Comfortable with Uncertainty:

Screen Shot 2018 03 20 at 2.41.23 PM Parenthood makes you mature. But what if you don't have any kids?

Yes, I think learning how to sit in uncertainty and to be cool -with the loneliness, the ugliness, the shame, the responsibility, the “isness” is super mature. A wise feeling oozes over. You smile. You get it.

That’s all. You guys got any theories on maturity I should explore?

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