“Maturity is so often considered to be synonymous with ‘adult.’ But I truly feel that maturity may be defined by the ability to be both an adult and a child.”
― Gina Marinello-Sweeney, I Thirst
If maturity is synonymous with adult then I am in serious trouble. I am indeed an adult, it’s the mature part that I am not so sure about. In fact, I have a scene from a few hours ago that validates my statement.
Today was a beautiful Saturday here in West Michigan. The boys woke up from their afternoon nap and greeted me with excitement and energy, asking what we had planned for the rest of the day. I dragged myself out of the bedroom and into the living room where my husband was relaxing on the couch and I looked at him a little wide-eyed as I expressed the need to get out as a family and enjoy the beauty of the day.
We pulled ourselves together and hopped in the car. I had heard about a nearby farm with family friendly activities so we headed that direction. We had a wonderful time and the boys were in heaven as they ran from here to there like caged animals who were freed to roam in their natural environment. We flung mini pumpkins through the air with a giant sling shot, raced up flights of stairs to slide down an oversized slide, ziplined through the field, and took a slow hayride through the corn fields and woods while counting crows. As we loaded back into the car, I noticed that the sun was directly in my two year olds eyes and I decided to offer my sunglasses. He enjoyed wearing them for all of two minutes when my five year old announced that my glasses were broken. I turned around to see a lense popped out and him bending the arm of the glasses. In a panic, I reached back and demanded that he hand them back to me.
He bent the arm further and my voice escalated as I yelled for him to hand them over. When he didn’t, I turned around in my seat and reached for the closest thing I could find in my lap which happened to be my purse. I lifted it over my head and threw it to the floorboard as I growled out my frustration.
In that moment, all maturity within me flew out the window as I displayed for my boys an adult temper tantrum. I slowly pulled myself together and turned around to see the tears streaming down his face as I offered him my apology. My response was extreme and the gravity set heavy on my heart. Engaging with children offers multiple opportunities to choose to live into the maturity we posses or resort to the immature behaviors that reside within us as we stuff down emotions and the chaos of being responsible adults.
I recently enjoyed a weekend of play as we cared for our friends daughters. Although the opportunities for immature responses were bountiful, the weekend was a delightful mix of caregiving and fun which I enjoyed fully. As I was taking the girls home the final night and tucking them into bed, one of the girls brought me her art journal to show me her Disney princess drawings. After hearing about her favorite drawings, she showed me the rest of her pages. I sat in awe of the beauty she had created and asked a little bit more about how she had started. She told me that a friend had given her oil pastels and she just started playing around with how they looked. Oil pastels? She explained that they were kinda like crayons but the color was more vibrant and although they are a little more messy, they are her favorite.
The next couple of days, I payed attention to the tugging in my heart to run by Hobby Lobby. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the oil pastels cost less than five dollars. Are you kidding?! I was prepared to pay a lot more for this creative adventure. That night, as I sat on the couch with my husband, watching our Netflix show, I sat testing out the variety of colors and the unique feel of the oil pastels. Art is something that I love and yet it can make me feel intimidated as it is an area in which I have never been trained. I am finding however that at the end of a long and difficult day my words are limited and sometimes the best way to express my heart is to pick up my favorite journal, grab my pastels, and just color. It’s in those moments when I am both an adult and a child at heart that I am living into the maturity that is present as I choose to care for myself in creative and colorful ways.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.