I had a fantastic childhood (thanks, Mom!). Even when my memories fail me, I have lots of pictures to look back on: Christmases full of presents, parties with lots of friends, family vacations to new and unusual places. (And caves...what was it with having children visit caves as part of a vacation? But I digress.)
I look at my life as an adult now: No naps. No playtime. Too many responsibilities. Overbooked schedules. Some days it looks a little grim compared with those sugar-coated memories I have retained. But when I compare my childhood to my son's, and all the amazing things he has access to in his life, I get downright jealous.
I think that is natural. Just think about it: On-demand television programming. Amazing toys. And even the classic toys got better. (How many Dads would have loved to visit a Lego store when they were little?) But as adults, it's how we deal with that jealousy that matters.
The first route is to become the curmudgeon mom...you know that parent. The one who is standing around at events having no fun and enjoys telling the "when I was your age" stories that no one wants to hear. Curmudgeon mom's children don't even want to play with her. (And I am fairly sure she is the one who gave my son Japanese cocktail peanuts on Halloween.)
The second route to never grow up. This is not just reliving the best parts of your childhood - this is the attempt to ignore responsibility as long as possible. I see a lot of "adults" who still rely on their parents for help making life decisions. Or want to go to camp for adults only. Or have playgrounds for adults.
But, I'm all about balance. So, I'll take the third path and embrace my son's childhood. This is the path where I chase him around on the playground equipment so we both get lots of exercise. And this is where zoos, science museums, planetariums and amusement parks have all become exciting again because I get to experience them through his eyes. I am still the adult, so there are still schedules to keep and rules to follow. But there is still fun for both of us to have.
And it's all thanks to my son.