Thursday, March 15, 2012

Scintilla day 2: I don't wanna grow up (but I did)

Today’s Scintilla Project prompt asks:

When did you realize you were a grown up? What did this mean for you? Shock to the system? Mourning of halcyon younger days? Or the embracing of the knowledge that you can do all the cool stuff adults do: drink wine, go on parent-free vacations, eat chocolate without reprimand?

Whenever I have one of those moments where I realize that I am the adult in a situation, it seems kind of insulting, and also just a little bit crazy. Who would trust me to be the responsible one? I'm cool, I'm young, I'm a rebel - right? No? No.

There’s no denying it – with 40 in the not-so-far distance, I’m decidedly an adult, and not even a young adult anymore.

It’s funny – when I think of the things mentioned in the prompt – the wine-drinking (delicious!) the chocolate-eating (also delicious!), the parent-free vacations – well, I look at the version of myself who did all of those things in my early 20s as still a kid. Sure, I could vote, sign up for the military, rent a car – but the me I am now is definitely more of a grown-up than the me who, all of the sudden, was allowed to legally do a whole bunch of adult-style things. And had a great time doing them. (Well – I didn’t sign up for the military.)

Grown-up-ness came gradually for me. Boy, we really don’t want to be seen as adults, do we? We don’t want to be adults because when we think of adults we probably think of our parents, and even if we love our parents, we can’t possibly be old like them, right? And all responsible and shit? And because people are generally getting married and having kids later and later, a prolonged adolescence can happen well into your 30s, or even 40s. I notice this with guys in particular. Sorry dudes – it’s true.

Of course, I do not speak for everyone. I know plenty of 20-somethings who are FAR more adult than I ever was in my 20s, or even early 30s. Or, really, even now. But for me personally, the realization that I was an adult was something that happened when I became a mother, and became fully responsible for someone else. (I feel like this is a totally cliche answer, and I'm sorry, but for me it's the truth.)

I mentioned this in yesterday's post, but sometimes I feel like I can be a selfish mother – or, at least, I have selfish tendencies that I control. In part, I think that is because until I was 33, I primarily put myself first. And it was wonderful. I got to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and sure, I worked full-time and did eventually get married when I was 31, but I had a whole lot of my “adult” life where I had freedom like I had never had before, and never will again. And it was awesome.

And even when I first had Jane - who was totally planned by the way, lest you read all of this as a "woe is me" post -  I didn’t really feel like a grown-up. Despite the fact that I was nowhere near what you would call a “young mother,” I felt like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was the first time in my life that I felt completely unprepared, completely unknowledgable, completely…dumb. Referring to myself as someone’s “mother” felt insane. At best, I felt like a mostly-unqualified babysitter.

Now, nearly five years later, I have absolutely accepted myself as an adult. When I walk into Jane’s preschool, the other kids call me “Jane’s Mom” when they talk to me, like it's my name, my only identifying factor. Like yesterday – “Jane’s Mom, how do you spell rainbow?” If someone is calling you “Jane’s Mom,” it’s time to stop fooling yourself- you’re an adult.

Acting as Jane’s advocate, whether at school or the doctor’s office – certainly makes me feel like a grown-up. Knowing I will ask any question, no matter how idiotic it makes me look or feel, for her benefit, makes me a grown-up, I think. Signing permission forms makes me feel like an adult. Being her main disciplinarian definitely makes me feel like a grown-up – particularly when I hear words my mother said to me coming out of my mouth.

That’s right – I’m starting to sound like my mother.

I don’t know any other thing that signifies I’ve finally become an adult more than that.


Jason said...

Having read you enough I think I know that you and I are almost the same age. I too see 40 looming in the not so distant future (and to be honest, I am hoping the Mayans can save me from ever seeing realizing the nightmare)and I have to say. WE ARE STILL AS YOUNG AS WE WANT TO BE! I know that we have to face responsibility sometimes, but we aren't as old as we thought our parents were at this age, of that I am sure. Never let the number make you concede your right to be young and free when the urge strikes you. Great post.

Dominique said...

I think this is a totally valid answer - I can't imagine what new levels of pressure and responsibility I'd feel (or will feel) if/when another life is foisted upon me to care for completely. Also, you are not selfish for taking time to do the things that nourish you! This is normal and healthy and necessary, I think.

Cassie @ said...

I don't know how moms do it. I admire all of you-- I really do. There's nothing like motherhood to make you grow up really, really fast, at least so I've heard. I'm baffled by people who become parents and still maintain their childish tendencies.

Emma said...

Oh my goodness, I'm 42 in a fortnight and I still suffer from imposter syndrome sometimes. I find myself shocked that people treat me like a responsible adult and that I'm allowed to do things like book flights and buy cars. I think I may actually have 'grown down' a bit lately.

Bibliomama said...

TOTALLY get the impostor syndrome. But I love the fact that since I passed forty I really do care less what other people think - not all people, necessarily, but the assish ones. Sometimes I still feel like I'm not grown up though - even though I do feel old. It's a conundrum wrapped in a riddle weighed down with a cinnamon doughnut.

Noel said...

I never feel like an adult, as you put it so beautifully. Sometimes I wake up and still can't believe someone gave me an apartment lease and a driver's license!

Tracy said...

It is inevitable, isn't it? We are even though we might now want to be but I think we are in the right ways. I think we are what we need to be with a side of fun. Always that. :D Jane is so very lucky to have you as her mom!

Jyllian said...

This is excellent. And not just because I agree though I do. I love all the amazing and sometimes crazy stuff I did in my 20s and er, 30s. But that wasn't as much about being an adult as having to go to the principal and talk about your kid being bullied. Or subdue your own fear so they won't feel scared. I didn't fully feel like an adult until after she was about two. I still sometimes can't believe I'm somebody's mother! I very much appreciate reading someone else that feels these ways. Thank you.

Brandeewine said...

Yeah, I still feel like an imposter, too. It's laughable that I was given two children to raise. I didn't feel like a mom.

I think that the growing up point is realized the day that you call your own mother after a particularly dizzying spell of eye-rolling by your teenager, and you say, "I get it now. I understand. And, I'm sorry!"

Only then, is the baton passed.

Trust me, though. You are doing just fine.

Dwayne "The Train" said...

i just want to say that i think it is awesome that you are starting to sound like your mother. she is a very kind, beautiful, sweet woman, and you should be proud to be just like her when you grow up.

i totally assume your moms is reading your blog since she totally knows about it now. totally. hi, mrs. savio. how you doin?