February 28, 2014

Being a Grown-Up

My eight year old son has asked, "What's it like to be a grown-up?", of me a couple of times recently.

I think he's asked more than once because he's not satisfied with my answers.

Because, how do you describe it? More specifically, how do you describe it without sounding a little embittered?

I said to AJ:
  • Adults have to make money, clean and cook and pay bills
  • We have to take care of kids
  • Grown-ups have LOTS of responsibilities
  • But, we don't have to live with our parents anymore
  • Don't have to ask for permission to do or have things
  • Can stay up as late as we want and eat whatever we want
But when I think more about it, I could also say:
  • Adults who are married, and especially married with children, DO have to ask for permission to do or have things, or we just don't bother to ask because we put our kids' needs ahead of our own
  • As you get older you find that you don't want to, or shouldn't, stay up real late or you'll be so tired the next day
  • Also as you get older, it is not a good idea to eat whatever you want because your metabolism slows down and you'll get fat, not to mention things like cholesterol and high blood pressure
Further, the most unexpected part of being a grown-up is that I didn't even feel like an actual adult grown-up until I turned 30.

Even though I was married at 24 and became a mom at 26, I still felt like I was 18, maybe 21 at the most.

Before moving back to Washington, we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. A defining moment in my life was a short encounter I had with a teenager on a BART platform. I was waiting there for my train with my baby in her stroller. This kid walks up to me and asks, "Do you have the time, ma'am?"

I told him the time, he said thanks and walked away. As I watched him go back to his friends, it hit me that they don't see me as one of them. Not even remotely.

I wasn't a kid anymore.

As impressionable of a moment that was, I still didn't feel like I was that far removed from them. Sure, I was a little older, married with a child and a job and bills and all that, but I was still only in my 20s and kind of felt like I was just playing house.

They -- I mean "they" -- say that 30, 40, 50....are milestone years. You change and grow around these ages. It's totally true.

Thirty came and I was all, "I am officially an adult now." No two ways about it and no turning back. I honestly didn't know if I was happy or sad that I had reached that place in my life.

Ten years later, as I approach 40, I am, for the most part, happy about it.

My 30s have taught me A LOT, and I expect my 40s will too.

What I should probably say to my son about being a grown-up is that....it's a journey. A winding, twisty, sometimes uphill path through experiences, emotions and lessons. Often adulthood is mundane, but sometimes it's exciting. It is also surprising. And if you stay open to whatever life throws at you, the more you will get out of it and enjoy it.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

*I wrote this to finish the sentence: "The most unexpected part of being a grown-up is...", thought up by Left Brain Buddha for Finish the Sentence Friday.

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