When our dog, Taylor, was just a puppy, I gave her big cuddles. Knowing she would grow too big to be a couch dog and not wanting to create any bad habits, I used to sit on the floor with her. I would cross my legs and she'd lie on me. We spent evening after evening cuddling.
One night, she walked over to me and sat in my lap. Immediately, she turned to me, a confused look in her eyes. She stood and repositioned herself, then lay down again. She tried again. Then again and again. Eventually, she gave me a strange, grown-up stare, as if to say, 'What have you done?' and headed back to her bed.
Overnight, it seemed, she had grown too big for my lap, and it was the last time we cuddled like that.
Sometimes, that's how I feel myself: like a child who should still be holding her Dad's hand, yet too big and grown-up to be able to.
My puppy is now nine years old. And I am turning thirty tomorrow. I am officially a 'grown-up', but sometimes I just don't feel that way.
In fact, I think that feeling grown-up is a fleeting feeling, at best.
One minute, you're having fun and just living your life, with no age attached. The next, someone younger will ask for advice, hoping to glean wisdom from your years, while you spend the whole time wondering at what point you blinked and were headed to thirty. Because the last time you checked, what feels like a year ago, you were turning twenty.
You could be working, dealing with important situations and feeling in control when, all of a sudden, you have this jolting memory from your childhood. Is all this real, or is this just like when you used to play grown-ups all those years ago?
One minute, you can be acting like a sensible, responsible parent doing things for your child. The next you're in the car with your own mother as a passenger, and you can't help but feel like a seventeen-year-old learner driver again.
I remember being in hospital after having Abbey, with a surreal feeling as though I was an aunty again, just a young aunty looking forward to playing with her new niece. The next moment, the baby was crying and the visitor holding her handed her back and I realised, she's mine. I have to look after her.
A part of me hopes to never really feel completely grown-up. It's important to remember your childhood and have some moments free from responsibility.