Subourbon Mom

We’re Just Like The Cicadas, Only Cuter

The other day over the rising din of the cicadas, Daughter #1 commented that they don’t have much of a life—they sleep and grow for seventeen years, eat themselves silly, mate, and die after leaving a new generation to come forth seventeen years later. Now I wasn’t touching the mating part of it with a ten-foot pole, but the more I thought about it, I realized we really aren’t that different from those red-eyed, bug freak shows.


For the first seventeen years, we humans sleep and grow in our rooms. We morph and change in our childhood shells, protected form the world, often only emerging for basic sustenance, especially in the latter portion of our incubation.  When we do crawl out from our teenage lairs, we eat…and eat…and eat…and mate (or try to). Some of us bring forth the next generation right then. Others never find that mate despite our best singing.  The only difference between us and the cicadas is that we don’t die immediately afterward. We go through the cycle at least two more times, with slight variations.


For the next seventeen years, we sleepwalk through college and grad schools, finding that first job, hating that first job, and changing jobs.  We try to sing, but we aren’t developed enough yet to find the right mate. Then, somewhere in our mid-thirties, we wake up again. That biological clock begins to tick, pushing us out of our sleep and into the world. We begin to sing in earnest.  Many of us find our mates, procreate, and feel like a part of us is dying afterward as our toddlers get their tenth ear infection (a part of us is—the single, care-free part that slept through our twenties).


Seventeen more years of unconsciously suppressing our own desires and needs as we care for our kids (a.k.a. sleeping) passes, and suddenly the children are gone. We are in our early fifties.  We emerge again, this time with less desire to mate, but just as much desire to sing.  Sometimes our singing does result in mating (hooray—the kids are gone!) and the occasional new generation, or mating occurs with a subsequent divorce, but mostly we just want to sing—and we do, as we travel, go out to restaurants that don’t have crayons on the table, and look at all the pictures on the wall, wondering where the time went.


So, before you step on that crusty shell, or flick that gross-looking cicada off your towel at the pool, remember—we’re a lot like them, only cuter.



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