the grownups ain’t coming


I was having a chat with a friend the other day about being vs. feeling like a grownup. I have realized something crazy lately, mostly since becoming a parent, but also since turning 30: the big secret of being an adult is that almost no one actually feels like one a lot of the time. That and the fact that the only major perk of being an adult is getting to have ice cream or popcorn for dinner if you want to. But mostly the thing about not feeling like a real grownup.

At least I don’t. I find myself, 30 years old, mother of twin three year olds, married, homeowner, scheduler of important things, manager of some serious medical issues, meal planner, writer, friend…and feeling like I’m playing house. I look around at all my responsibilities, which I usually handle just fine, and often wonder, “Who the heck decided I could handle all of this?” It’s like I’m waiting for the real grownups to show up and take charge, only to realize, the grownups ain’t coming. The grownups are us.

I’ve even realized that I seem to think of “adulting” like others might think of playing video games: I’m earning or losing points along the way, and occasionally leveling up. Remembering to pay a bill: points. Actually calling and talking to the insurer or medical supply guy or specialty nurse about something: points. Doing all the steps of my skincare routine for more than three days in a row: points. Exercising, even with kids underfoot: points. Eating the recommended servings of vegetables: points. Remembering the paperwork for the kid thing: points. Not getting sunburned or allowing my kids to get sunburned on the beach vacation: points. Not letting the clothes get funky in the washing machine before switching them to the dryer: points. Hosting actual adult parties: points.

Getting married? Leveled up. Buying a house? Leveled up. Moving halfway across the country? Leveled up. Dealing with loss? Leveled up. Facing my own mortality in a major way? Leveled up. Becoming a parent? Leveled up. Twins? Leveled way up. Having a kid with a disability? Leveled up. Managing my own chronic health issues? Leveled up. Realizing what I do or DON’T want to do with my life? Leveled up.

It’s like I think that if I collect enough points or get to a final level, I’ll stop feeling like I’m pretending at being a grownup and actually feel like an adult. This probably makes me a stereotype of a Millennial, but what can I say, I graduated high school in 2003. My generation allegedly feels like adolescents forever. Guilty as charged. The thing that really lets me know that I’m a grownup is that I now know it doesn’t matter if I feel like an imposter, because I still gotta get shit done. It turns out being a grownup is a lot like being brave: it’s about feeling one way but doing the damn thing anyway. Brave people are still scared. Real grownups still feel like kids playing house a lot of the time. You just don’t tell anyone you’re secretly earning merit badges in your head and move along your merry little way.

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thoughts on THIRTY

Today, I am THIRTY!

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I know for a lot of folks, this is a big milestone birthday, possibly even a thing to dread or skip entirely in favor of being 29 forever, but to me, it’s just a reason to celebrate. Since my intense brush with my own mortality at age 27, every birthday afterward feels like a gift. I’m happy to be here, happy to be relatively healthy, happy to think of all the ways I’ve grown and changed to get to this point.  Continue reading “thoughts on THIRTY”

when i’m an old woman, i shall join a biker gang

My role model. Image via NBC Chicago.

Here in the Charleston, I see them a lot, traveling in giggly packs wearing glittery brooches and carrying purses festooned with feathers, all matching their red hats and purple dresses.  They’re the famous Red Hat Society, inspired by this poem by Jenny Joseph.  And while those ladies seem to have a lot of fun, I’ve found some other role models for my golden years, thanks to the headline that made my morning when I saw it in a tweet from Roger Ebert: Nursing Home Residents form a Biker Gang.  You should really go read that story. It warmed my heart (ok, it could have also been that blessed cup of coffee) to read of old ladies getting tats and wearing leather and demanding dirty martinis from bartenders.  And how awesome is it that the bikers came out to dance and flirt with them and are planning to take them out on the bikes when the weather is warmer?

Now that I know what I want to be when I grow up, it’s good to know what I want to be even after that: basically, the little old lady from Pasadena.

WARNING
When I am an old woman I shall wear leather
With a tattoo which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on martinis and biker gloves
And black leather boots, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall hop on my hog when I’m tired
And guzzle up cocktails in dive bars and set off fireworks
And juice my ride along public motorways
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out with my gang every night
And dance with the easy riders at the Evil Olive . . .

The way I see it, motorcycles are way too dangerous for me now. Thanks to growing up with an ER doc for a dad, I know how deadly they can be, and you’d never get me on one. But why not throw caution to the wind when I am 80? I’m gonna be hell on wheels.  Too bad nobody told my Granny (my great grandmother) about this.  She’d have loved the biking grannies, I’m sure, though even without the leather and martinis, she was quite the character.  She dyed her hair a different color every time she went to the beauty parlor, always had a bright red manicure, had boyfriends with whom she played dominoes, flirted with her doctors, and was known to accost strangers in the grocery store over the things they chose to put in their buggies.  I’m going to channel her spirit, which surely resides in my genes, in a more “bat outta hell” direction when I’m an old woman.