When I spit my toothpaste in the sink, some splatters onto the faucet and, for a second, I think to just leave it. Someone else will clean up.
I close my eyes and hear the sounds of my childhood like they’re right outside my window. Because they are. Except the sounds are coming from my children and swarms of their pals running around in the back yard. Wasn’t it just yesterday I, too, had zero responsibilities except calling a ghost runner on third base?
Ripping off a piece of paper towel, I wipe the faucet, buffing it dry until it shines.
Adulting sucks sometimes.
I learned something about myself long ago: I thrive on praise. Be my cheerleader, and I’ll love you forever. Tell me job well done, and I’ll bust my butt for you. Acknowledging my efforts worked in my favor through elementary school up to my profession as a teacher, but I make dinner from scratch and do you think anyone has the decency to have a parade in my honor? No one in this house has run out of clean underwear in at least a week, so where are those ingrates’ thank-you notes?
One day we wake up with a mortgage or a family or both and BOOM! Welcome to Adulthood, Asshole. There’s no middle ground, no dipping in a toe before diving headfirst. There are days we are so painfully aware of the heavy fog of obligation that we can’t see through to the other side. The urge to walk away is alarmingly overwhelming.
There are no fist-bumps when my husband and I pay for stuff, don’t accidentally leave a kid somewhere, or cut the grass. There should at least be balloons when we make it somewhere–anywhere–on time. But that’s just it: this adulting thing? There is no praise. No acknowledgement of a job well done. And it’s even worse for parents: it takes, like, 18 years until we’re able to even glean the faintest proof of a job well done. Talk about a shoddy gig. Yet, in theory, we knew that would be the case; couples everywhere fully understand the sacrifice they are making when they willingly (or otherwise) become parents. But then it actually happens and we’re all
What’s more is that lately, I’m personally having a hard time fitting in. As a woman, wife, and mother, I’m not sure where I belong. I’m not the college girl in her LuLaRoe leggings all hopped up on Starbucks; I’m not the wise Mama relaxing on her towel, waving at her kids as they splash in the deep end. I’m the in-between lady who
thinks both presidential candidates are the pits
is a cradle Catholic that says fuck too much
can’t decide if low-rise jeans are too risque at her age
believes Black Lives Matter and so do the ones earning a living by protecting them
loves her husband but doesn’t show him enough
tried a pair of those LuLaRoe leggings and thought they sucked
hates unreasonable advice (5 Ways To Stop Yelling!), but her Pinterest boards speak otherwise
discovered that elusive balance everyone talks about when she took her vitamins with a beer
doesn’t think she’s judgmental but can’t stop criticizing herself
could care less that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are divorcing; homewreckers get what they get and they don’t throw a fit
continues traversing the rocky terrain that is parenthood
considers herself a feminist but appreciates when anyone holds a door open for her
My first-grader and I feel the same push-and-pull as we straddle the two realms of Me vs. Us. As we struggle to find our place and be comfortable there, we feel the unmistakable tug of what has been, what should be, and what will be. He wipes his own butt now, is finally allowed to walk to his friend’s house by himself (stay in the yards, off the road), but still sleeps with Blue Bear Teddy. Childhood is a beautiful contradiction of independent dependence, though through his confusion and frustration, my 7-year-old probably wouldn’t agree with the beautiful part. My (lacking) fashion sense, progressively traditional ideals, and stupid sense of humor rarely reflect someone staunchly planted in parenthood. Yet here I am.
I’m not sure where I belong in Adulthood.
It’s always about perspective, isn’t it? I watch my son and remember those struggles as minor, but when in I was in my size 1 grass-stained sneakers, those problems were all-consuming. Who cares about fitting in at this point?! I’ve wasted too much time already wondering which box I should check that I didn’t even realize, in the midst of this silly identity crisis, I created my own box. It’s my own version of a beautiful contradiction. It’s a bacon cheddar burger in a lettuce wrap. It’s moderation. It’s basically Panera Bread in a Happy Meal because everyone deserves a prize, dammit.