The first memory that came to mind when I read this prompt was how, as a child thinking how easy my mother had it. She would wake my sister and me up at 6:00 am. We’d wash, get dressed, eat breakfast, then lay down on the couch, for maybe five to ten precious minutes of rest, until she would rouse us again, point us in the general direction of the bus stop, and once we were safely on our way, she’d lay back down in her bed, all cozy and warm, while the bus whisked to school to face tests, oral reports and gym (three things that terrorized me at school) .
I think that misperception is the most common one children have about adult life. It’s the autonomy the child believes the adults have that they envy. Unlike the child who is told when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to go to school etc. it seems adults can do as they please. This misperception occurs because the child can see the person or persons (mother, father, teacher; etc.) who wield control over him, who restrict his autonomy with rules and regulations. What he does not see are the people who restrict the autonomy of his parents, like managers at work, doctors who want them on a restricted diet, the bank that wants the mortgage payment paid promptly each month. Adults certainly have less autonomy than I thought they had as a child. And a lot more responsibility carried on their shoulders.
My mother was a stay at home mom. She had to be her own manager and we would come home after our day in school to a clean home, supper on the stove, clothes washed, folded and ready to be ironed after she helped us with our homework. We put little thought to how all that was accomplished while we were otherwise occupied. We’d kiss her goodnight, then snuggle down in our beds, all cozy and warm, to the hiss of the steam iron as she tackled this chore long into the night waiting for my dad to come home from work around midnight. She had no more autonomy than we, she just did what had to be done. The thing is she loved taking care of her home and family. Maybe the need for autonomy diminishes in proportion to how much you love what you do. Taken from that perception maybe mom had it easy, after all.