Calling all grown ups. Seriously, are there any out there? You well turned out ladies and gents commuting to the business district, you are grown ups right? The doctors and nurses attending life saving operations, total adults now? The truth is I’m thirty three and I still don’t feel as though I’ve made it.
I can say it’s been some years since I felt like a child. True, I spend my day talking about poo, playing play dough, and writing silly poems for a living. However my children can happily pretend to be Elsa and Anna every afternoon for a week, whilst I feel like shooting myself after one afternoon, only putting up with being Olaf because it makes them happy. I pretend to be a grown up, paying the bills, disciplining my kids, working. In reality I am in a strange state of limbo, somewhere between childhood and adulthood, waiting for it to hit (and definitely not a teenager).
A few months ago, on the eve of my cousin’s twentieth birthday, she took to Facebook to mark the last minutes of her teens. Her post stated that she assumed she would feel grown up in the morning. I commented (thick with envy at her youth) that I’m still waiting for that feeling.
’But you are like full on adulting and shit? You have kids, you do school runs, you know what life’s all about,’ was the gist of her reply.
But that’s just it, I still don’t know what I am really doing. I pay my bills, because I know I have to. I work so we can eat. I parent so my kids stay alive, but does it scare me? Every. Single. Day. As I look back over my life I have accomplished a lot, I am proud of the person I have become, and have undoubtedly achieved a status which should make me feel like I am winning as a grown up. I would like to confess, however, not once have I felt as though I was full on ‘adulting’. To my cousin, who thinks I have it all sussed, I admit, when I was in labour with my first born, I cried like a baby. During the transition stage between contractions and wanting to push I had no idea what was going on. Having decided on a home birth, not to be brave, but because we were scared of hospitals, meant there was no midwife with me at that point. I locked myself in the bathroom, convinced I just needed to crap, rather than push out a nine pound baby, and wept for my mummy.
When that first born reached nineteen months old she picked up her first vomiting bug. I cried for my mum then too. Scared, panicked, watching this poor little girl retch and heave, I wanted my parents to come and tell me it was all going to be okay. Somewhere along the line I got used to the hiccups that come as a parent, I learnt to deal with them without crying for my own mum (that doesn’t stop me wishing she was here sometimes though).
On an evening, as I lie beside my youngest, waiting for her to fall asleep, I look around her room. Her walls are filled with so many things that used to adorn my childhood room, pictures, a little shelf of trinkets, the collection of Beatrix Potter books. These sights provide me with comfort, and for a second I can pretend that I am in my old bedroom; safe, warm, with parents downstairs who can make everything better. But I’m not. I am the parent now, it is my turn to be there for my children.
Growing up comes with a host of concerns, we all face daily struggles, but in reality they do not make us any less of an adult. We are simply humans. I often look around me and assume everyone is doing better than me, those that seem more confident, those in high powered jobs, those that parent without looking completely knackered, but then I remind myself, the grass is always greener on the other side. My cousin has looked at me and has assumed that I have it all sorted, perhaps I too give out an air of confidence. In reality I should be proud of myself for appearing as though I know what I am doing, I can’t be totally screwing it up like, some days, I feel I am. When those bad days do come around, next time I won’t be quite so hard on myself. ‘Adulting’ is hard work, and I bet some days my parents still wish their own mums and dads were right there beside them too.