(Pictured above in the top right, Benjamin Button doing an impression of adulting).
When I was a teenager, I was convinced that I was already in my early 20s. I’ve been sort of an old soul since birth, and then I was always with older cousins to hang out rather than friends my own age, so I just settled into the rhythm of being what my mom called, “too big for your britches.” Meaning I thought I was grown already, and I was mistaken, and I better get back in line because she wasn’t my friend, she was my mom, and she would “pull rank” if she had to. (Side note— the military analogy has followed me into adulthood, because some of the guys at work call me either Private or Sarge depending on the day, Never thought about it before).
Anyway, when I would get my reality check and settle down, we would talk about things calmly later and mom would tell me I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to be an adult because “you’ll get to where you always wanted to be and you’ll think, ‘This is it? This is what I was in a hurry for?’”
I thought she was wrong. I thought nothing could be better or more freeing than setting my own curfew, having my own money, living in my own house, driving my own car that I picked out because I was in charge, eat whatever I wanted for dinner, sleep late, clean up if I wanted which would be never….you get the point. No responsibilities, all the freedoms, life would be fantastic.
After high school (where I graduated a semester earlier because, again, big britches) there was college, which I admittedly loved, but was not reality. I thrive in controlled, academic environments where I can be smart but protected. I mistakenly thought that I had arrived and mom was wrong. Surely she had to be mistaken. This was great. If I wanted to go to class (which I usually did), I would. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t. In between classes I could have lunch dates with my boyfriend, leave campus to go to the best mall ever just 10 minutes away to window shop or convince Uncle Jesse to buy me things, have Taco Bell however many times I wanted every week, and jam out to Goo Goo Dolls or the mix tape Christina Yang made me on the 45 minute commute home. Commute because, while I wanted to be an adult, I wanted no part of sharing bathrooms with strangers when I could have my own room and private bathroom at home for free. You can see how I was mistaken about the adult thing because although I was “grown” I still came home every night. I know, I know. I blame my frontal lobe development.
After college, I’m married and living on my own, and it’s not so bad. Other Half and I had fun, and a good life. But I was out of college approximately 7 seconds before we were pregnant with Mary Ann. That’s when all the fun really begins.
As far as I could tell as a young mother, adulting meant no sleep, endless bills, zero free time, trying to maintain friendships and a marriage when you had no sleep and endless bills. It meant that when you need an oil change, you have to arrange it (or get Other Half to do it). It meant if the sink was stopped up, you had to fix it yourself or pay a plumber. I learned very quickly that freedom=responsibility. When I got pregnant with Benjamin Button approximately 7 more seconds after that, mom was furious because she said I had “no idea what I was in for and how much harder my life could be.” I thought she was exaggerating. Until one day I was changing Benjamin’s diaper and he projectile-pooped off of the changing table and Mary Ann came running in the room with a bowl of grits on her head, slipping and falling in the projectile poop. I cried. Mom laughed.
Basically, I’ve decided that adulting is hard. It doesn’t have a ton of perks. Think about it: you can live wherever you want, but then you have to pay for it. In all that “free time” you thought you would have, you have to go to work to be able to pay for “being able to live wherever I want.” You have to get a car or some other form of transportation to get back and forth to the job you need to pay for that place you live. Then, you have to pay for insurance and gas for that car, and repairs if something bad happens to it. You have to pay for all that food that you were going to be able to eat whenever and whatever you wanted. You have to do your own laundry (or find someone fantastic to help with it like I have). You worry that you are a terrible parent, and then watch your kids sleep and pray God helps you do a better job tomorrow because you really do love them, and you didn’t mean to yell at them when they called your name for the 98,989 time.
You have back pain. You have anxiety. You have glasses. You have Epsom salts. You have wrinkle creams, and occasional disagreements, and passive aggressive behaviors, and oh the baggage. I thought I was normal until I hit my 30s. Then I discovered that basically my 20s must have been spent packing all the baggage I was going to carry for the rest of my life or pay a therapist to unpack. I went to graduate school, which I loved. And I got the job I always wanted. But you know what happens after that? Sometimes you get overwhelmed and think, “Did I really go to college for 7 years to do this? Because I suck at it.” Other days you think, “This is fantastic! I love my life,” and then your dog, or your child, poops in the floor and you realize, nope, adulting still sucks.
Sometimes you cry at work. Why does no one tell you that you might cry at work? Some warning would have been nice. I’ve had 3 medical jobs in my career, and 3 retail jobs before that, and I cried at some point at all of them. And I’m not generally a crier. I’m one of those people that holds in their tears so log that eventually you’re pretty sure you have a tear duct disorder. Sometimes you ride around in circles in the car you work so hard to pay for just to have five seconds to yourself. And sometimes, on those days, it’s hard to remember what was supposed to be so great about adulting.
But this is one benefit I have discovered. OK, two benefits. Wait, no three. But only three.
Number one: Tonight, at 8:40 PM when I decided I wanted shaved ice from Pelicans (wedding cake with sweetened condensed milk that tastes like the tears of Jesus), no one could tell me not to go get it.
Number two: Kids love spontaneity, so you convince your kid to come with you, and then she can go order for you so you can stay in the car you worked so hard to pay for.
Number three: the reason you needed her to go order for you and pay for your Pelican’s Snoball is because you may or may not have been wearing zebra print sleep pants, your husband’s t-shirt, a super soft sweatshirt from Ruby J’s Boutique (she’s awesome, check it out), and Ugg slippers. And no one can tell you not to leave the house like that. Although Mary Ann can be a little judgey and she made me put my hair in a ponytail so I wouldn’t embarrass her if we saw anyone we knew. And Other Half gets a little judgey if I try to leave without a bra. But I am my own woman.
So there you have it. Adulting is hard, but Pelican’s is delicious, and pajama pants are my right as a member of a free society. That makes it an even trade, right?