Adulthood: are we there yet?

It’s hard for me to really really embrace adulthood. It feels like I’m pretending – putting on mommy’s high heels and shoulder-padded power suit and piling my crayons and construction paper into daddy’s briefcase. I often have to remind myself that I’m a Grown Up, even though I’m not quite sure what defines me as such. I didn’t feel like a Grown Up when I graduated college or got my first “real” job. Even after getting married and having a baby I’m not always convinced of my adulthood. Am I an adult?

I have friends around my age (even younger!) who I consider Real Adults – Grown Ups. But I’m not really sure why they qualify and I don’t.

Maybe it’s a part of my perfectionism – I don’t own a home, don’t have a perfect credit score, don’t have the perfect job and the spotless life and don’t have it all figured out. Maybe when everything is perfect, I’ll see myself as a Grown Up.

Or maybe it has to do with my generation’s inability (unwillingness?) to live like adults. We don’t want to make the tough decisions, we don’t want to have to give anything up. We want it all, and we don’t want to work for it. And also, can someone grab me a beer and load the dishwasher for me?

The Mountain Man and I are still trying to decide what to do about housing and cars. These are becoming our perennial topics of conversation and agony – neither one of us seems to be able to stick with a decision, and we’re not convinced that any of the options are the best. And we were talking about our current car-of-choice being about 95% perfect for our lifestyle, and how great it would be if we traded in the recently paid-off truck and had the brand new mom car almost completely paid for. But we are sad and anxious about trading in the truck. We just paid it off! We went on our first date in it, got engaged in it, hauled scary loads of furniture over passes and under underpasses in it. It had fit our lifestyle perfectly before – our child-less, two-car city dwelling lifestyle, and now giving up the truck is like giving up our past.

We are now faced with making decisions not based on our past lifestyle, or even our current lifestyle – but what we want for our future lifestyle. We’ve never before had to plan for our life in this way. We just went with what worked for us every day, making small decisions as we went, that created our lifestyle. Now we are going about it backwards (or is it forward?) making the decisions that will direct our lifestyle as opposed to letting our lifestyle direct our decisions.

We are expanding our house-search criteria as well, to include townhouses at a higher price point than we initially wanted, in order to get us closest to the Mountain Man’s work and thus improving our daily lives. We could be a single-car family if the commute was 2 miles, rather than 55. We could live in a townhouse if we only had one car (and the motorcycle, and the bikes, and the camping and backpacking gear…) We have certain things in our life that we’re not willing to compromise on, but now we’re being faced with making choices about how we live every day in order to have the best life we can. We’re making decisions that will direct our lifestyle, even when that means giving things up and making compromises, rather than letting our lifestyle - sprawling and winding with every item of interest – direct our decision making.

Maybe that – more than property and mini-van ownership - makes us Adults.

(And goodness, don’t freak out. We’re not buying a mini-van. It’s a wagon with a third row. TOTALLY different.)


  1. I like this post. I feel like this a lot. Especially when I am in a situation where there are a lot of kids and only a few parents and one of the kids is being bratty and then someone says, "WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE??" and then all heads swivel to me and I am looking behind me for the grown-up. Oh, wait, everyone is looking at me? am I in charge? when did that happen? do I have to make the decisions and do the disciplining? what if I don't want to?

    Very though-provoking writing. And I'll take that beer now, while you're up. :)


  2. How did you know I was already standing up? do you have some weird mom-sense of when people are in the kitchen, rummaging through the fridge while dishes wallow in the sink?

    I think that motherhood is missing the clear delineation of command. When you're in the workplace, everyone knows that the store manager is the grown-up, and the shift supervisor is the teenager and the lead cashier is the pre-teen, with the salespeople as the children. The Manager (adult) can leave the shift supervisor (teen) in charge of the brood. And then occasionally the head cashier (pre-teen) can be left for a short time in charge of the salespeople (kids) but the kids (I mean salespeople) will never be in charge. However no one laid that out for me with motherhood. The baby popped out, but I didn't get a promotion or a new more sophisticated uniform or a pin or better nametag or anything. So who IS in charge here???


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