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.

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 grow up

Image: Coiled Notebook, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from genbug's photostream

In the bio to this blog, I say that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Most days I still don’t.  My husband has long maintained that I’m destined to be an English professor, whether I accept it or not.  These days, I think he’s probably right. In my last job in Charleston, I worked at a college and had the opportunity to take a few English grad classes as a non-degree student.  I loved every minute of them. I think there may be nothing I enjoy quite so much as reading, writing about, and talking about literature.  So, having still failed to receive a burning bush or singing telegram to tell me my future, I’m taking a step in that direction. Today, I submitted my application to join the English Lit MA program at the University of Central Arkansas, and, if everything works out, I’ll be starting classes this fall. As in, weeks from now.  And I actually have some surety that I’m doing the right thing for a change.

How do I know I’m doing the right thing? Well, while entertaining the possibility that I might start grad school this spring, I tried to tally up how much the degree would cost. When my total came up $30,000, I burst into disappointed tears, convinced I’d never get to go.  As he attempted to calm down the crazy, Jon pointed out that if I was so sad to think I wouldn’t get to go, it surely must be the thing I need to do.  Then, knowing my math skill level, he double checked my calculations and discovered that my total was way off. The real cost is somewhere in the neighborhood of $9,000, provided I could get in-state tuition. This, folks, is why he does the bill paying around here.

At this point, I was still thinking I’d have to start school in the spring, and not sure I’d qualify for in-state tuition.  Though I’m from Arkansas, born and raised, I’ve spent the last 3 years in South Carolina.  I emailed the graduate school office and was surprised to learn that all they ask for is my current address, which is in Arkansas, so I’m in-state.  I was also concerned that I haven’t taken the GRE, but it turns out I don’t need it to start classes this fall– I get a term to submit a score and become a full graduate student eligible for financial aid and assistantships.  So, everything seems to be falling into place!

I still need to find a part-time job, and I still need to take the GRE so I can be eligible for teaching assistantships come springtime, but I’m really, really excited.  Guess I need to go shopping for some school supplies!

young girls and Diary of a Young Girl

You may have heard that Miep Gies, the last surviving protector of Anne Frank and her family, died on Monday.  As a result, Anne Frank and her family’s story and the story of the people who tried to save them, has been in the news this week.  Last night, I read this piece by Monica Hesse of The Washington Post, and the first paragraph made me say out loud, “That’s ME!”  This is that paragraph:

The girls who loved Anne Frank loved her in a deep and abiding way, in a way that bordered on obsession and felt both bleak and wise. She was their first introduction to the terribleness of the world, and the beauty, and to sad endings that are also hopeful and true.

It’s sort of hard to talk about, but as an early teen, I got more than a little obsessed with Anne Frank and the holocaust. It’s a weird sort of thing to be obsessed with, particularly when you’re a Christian girl growing up without much hardship in America.  You can’t exactly tell people that you’re reading everything you can about the Holocaust and not seem a little odd, a little morbid.  And yet I related to Anne in a very deep way.  And it turns out, according to this article, this is the case for many, many women (maybe men? they weren’t mentioned, but surely this story has touched men too).  For me, looking back now at my Anne Frank years, it was that we were close to the same age.  We were both starting to realize that there was a whole lot of awful in the world.  We were both experiencing puberty and a budding interest in boys.  We were both bookish and awkward and prone to emotional outbursts and sudden tears.  We both had sometimes difficult relationships to our sisters.  We were both isolated in some ways, turning to journals to pour out our hearts rather than best friends.  In other words, it felt like we were coming of age together, and so I read her diary over and over and over. Continue reading “young girls and Diary of a Young Girl”