I’m Ron Burgundy? Finding My Way Through My Parental Identity Crisis

I think I am having an identity crisis. It started very simply, with me recently deciding I had nothing to wear to a concert. It wasn’t just any concert, but a concert being played at a venue on the busy avenue that serves our local university. I knew the crowd would be primarily hip, young, college kids, and for some reason, I was feeling a lot of pressure to look cool. Let me just clear something up quickly – I am not cool. I’ve never really been cool, and have more often than not gone the route of comfort over coolness, but for this one night, I wanted to up the ante, so to speak. Lamenting my woes to my husband, as I emptied the contents of my closet onto our bed I whined, “I don’t want to look like a mom!” to which he replied, “Why? You are a mom.” Buzz kill!

Call it vanity, call it stupidity, call it human nature, call it whatever you want. I’m not proud, but for that night, I wanted to look 20, because on the inside I still feel 20. Sitting in a dingy bar before the show and sipping on a pink lemonade vodka slurpee (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, it is delicious), reminiscing about college years with my fellow mom friend who is cool, I can’t believe 15 years have gone by since I first walked onto a campus with 30,000 other kids taking their first steps into adulthood. I can’t believe I am married. I can’t believe I have a kid. Like, a real kid, not a tiny dog you sneak onto your dorm floor, and dress like a baby. I can’t believe I’m an adult, because I sure don’t feel like one. Where did the time go?

Talking about our respective college experiences, it’s easy to long for the simplicity of times past. Days were scheduled, the expectations clear. Friends were abundant, and socializing was easy. The unknowns of the time were fun and exciting – who will show up to the library tonight? Will I meet my soul mate in Bio Chem? What crazy shenanigans will I find myself in, and then laugh over until tears pour down my face with my roommates the next morning? Of course there were hard times too; broken hearts, failed classes (turns out I didn’t meet my soul mate or learn enough in Bio Chem to achieve the C my major required), roommate/family/professor drama. But overall, I had a blast in college, and seeing people doing exactly that, makes it hard not to yearn for years long gone by.

After our slurpees, we shouldered ourselves into the 21+ section of the theater, and I begin to contemplate my options. Do I get another drink and momentarily disable my adult-size personal bubble that is being encroached upon by too many tanned, toned, twenty-somethings to count? My twenty year old inner voice giggles with glee at the possibility of getting a little drunk and dancing with these kids, like some kind of deranged pied piper. “When was the last time we danced?!” it chimes, albeit a little crazily. I shrug to myself and contemplate further. Should I instead acknowledge the thirty-something part of my brain who is analyzing every detail of the hot, sticky and cramped venue, urging me to locate the nearest exit? “The last time we danced was at your bachelorette party. Remember the one where you drop kicked your vodka tonic and almost threw up in bed?” grumbles the thirty-something part of my brain. “Also, you don’t dance, you seize,” it adds in, unnecessarily.

Fortunately, right about the time when my two inner voices started bickering, the music started, and both were drowned out by the artist we came to see. After listening to a few songs in the back of the room, where we stood on tip toes to catch brief glances of the band, my friend discovered an upstairs area where all the adults were sitting. From there, we watched the rest of the show, with the comfort of our adult-sized personal bubbles being respected, and the steady flow of the air conditioner blowing down on us. It was a perfect combination that appeased both parts of my confused brain.

I’m not sure which side of my brain will ultimately prevail. Perhaps rather than trying to pick one, it’s listening to both that will keep me feeling balanced and fulfilled. I want to be a “cool” mom, but more than that, I want to be me, and for now, I feel comfortable being a 33-year-old who drinks pink lemonade slurpees, and sits in the adult section.


If you squint and look in the very, very back of the upper level, you will find my friend and I, getting our Shakey Graves on.

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