So I recently turned a significant age (let’s say I remember my 30s like it was 2 months ago) and I’m supposed to feel something, right? Mostly I’m wondering, am I a grown-up yet?
As a kid, I was pretty sure what qualified you as an adult; you could support yourself, you didn’t share a roof with family, you could eat sugar cereal with reckless abandon.
And I figured those things probably happened somewhere around age 25. For me, they did, except, I didn’t feel grown up.
So then I thought I’d feel more grown if I were in a longterm relationship that had the potential of becoming a marriage. Which promptly led to my longterm boyfriend breaking up with me.
Clearly, I wasn’t a grown-up yet.
I continued on the path towards adulthood, dating more grown up men; guys who were on a career path, as opposed to just out of school. Guys who didn’t have roommates. Guys who already had longterm relationships behind them. Guys who didn’t need to rely on bar buybacks to have a good time. But I still slept with the radio-shaped pillow from college and gravitated towards drugstore cosmetics, even though I was earning enough to contribute healthily to a 401K. The drain I felt by the purchase of 3 bridesmaid dresses in one year was more emotional than fiscal. I wasn’t grown up yet.
And then I got married. But our vows had Star Wars references. And then we bought our first apartment. But we decorated it with Space Invader decals. Then we had a baby, and named her after a Final Fantasy character.
As someone’s mother, I had to be a grown-up. But there was nothing in my new set of priorities that, deep down, clicked that grown-up switch for me. Instinctively I knew to protect and care for my child, but I only felt more like a child myself, besieged by the insecurity that comes with parenthood. Being a grown-up meant being confident, wise and in control of your life. A newborn would rob anyone of those qualities.
Then I had a toddler and a newborn. I was a 30-something woman with a career and a family. Sounds pretty grown up. It was an act. I didn’t read newspapers, shied away from political discussions and daydreamed about naming nail polish colors (Subterranean Soil, Garbanzo Beige, Pica Shine – kind of like Urban Decay meets Wet-n-Wild). I would look in the mirror and see my 16-year old self, with some gray roots. Was I ever going to feel like an adult?
And not because we live in the era of the grown-up-child, cultivated by Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham. Sure, points of view in movies and shows like “Knocked Up,” or its almost sequel, aptly named, “This is 40,” and “Girls” speak to me in a lot of ways. That IS my generation in the Paul Rudd-Jason Segel air performance Rush scene of “I Love You, Man.” But I don’t watch that and go: “Whew, I’m not alone when I lip-synch to Katy Perry with a hairbrush while I procrastinate setting up the home insurance on auto-pay.” It just makes me realize – “Grown-up” is not an accurate description of the person I feel I am, at this age.
I think Kim France explains it perfectly on her blog, Girls of a Certain Age.
[Girls of a Certain Age] look at pictures of their moms at their age and somehow don’t feel as grown up. Which bothered them for a while, but doesn’t anymore. Because they’re obviously grown-ups—albeit grown-ups who can’t quite part with the notion that motorcycle boots, if styled properly, can make for a perfectly acceptable evening look.
Grown-up is a relative term. I’m more “grown up” than other 40-year olds, less so than others. I’m mature enough to perform well in a corporate job, to raise dynamic, healthy kids and get the bills paid (mostly) on time (thanks to auto-pay). I’m also a crappy meal-planner, and get giddy with impulse purchases at drugstores (did you know they sell Girl Scout cookie scented lip gloss and YES, there is a Samoa flavor, though they’re not allowed to call it that?).
I’m grown up enough.
How do grown up do YOU feel and does it have anything to do with your age?