Balancing Act

Grown-up? Who, me?

Kristin van Ogtrop

Kristin van Ogtrop is the author of "Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom," published by Back Bay Books. (HANDOUT / July 11, 2011)

"The day Genevieve was born and realizing there was no return policy," she said of her first-born.

Which brings us to van Ogtrop, who also felt like she grew up upon giving birth.

"I was leaving the hospital with my first child," she emailed me. "As we crossed the threshold of Mt. Sinai hospital and walked out onto the sunny sidewalk, I thought, 'Wait, that's it? We just … leave with him? Don't we need to pass some sort of, like, test? Do these medical professionals really believe that we know how to keep this baby alive, all by ourselves?'"

Her professional growing up happened in her first week as Real Simple editor-in-chief, at a meeting with the editorial staff.

"The meeting was starting to get a bit boring. We had accomplished what we needed to and everyone was getting itchy. I began to think, 'When in the world is this meeting going to end?' And then I realized: They are all waiting for me to end the meeting. Because I am the boss. Right! I stood up, and then everyone else stood up, and the meeting was over."

Again, this reminds me so much of my life! So many nights I look around and wonder, "When are these kids going to get in bed?" Then I realize: When I put them to bed. Because I am the mom. Right!

So here's what I think: Many of us have moments of feeling grown up, but the moments pass. Van Ogtrop's were eight years apart. Somewhere between Mount Sinai and Real Simple she forgot she was grown up and needed a staff meeting to remind her. I think we grow — and grow up — when we thrust ourselves into brand-new, terrifying, high-stakes situations with no experience to draw on and every intention of succeeding.

We rise to the occasion. And then we go back to being curious, bewildered amateurs who are feeling our way through this life and collecting new ideas and laughing at inappropriate times and forgetting to buy paper products.

And I suppose that's pretty grown up of us.

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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