There was an essay written at the start of the year, published here, and it’s sparked a bunch of individuals from all over the country to write their own mini essays recalling the moments they became adults. I’ve read plenty of them and have yet to determine whether or not I consider myself an adult. Most days now I feel like an adult, but not because I feel wise and entitled to some universal secret, but because I feel tired, boring, grumpy and a little lackluster – those are the things I equate with adulthood. I became those things when I had kids but not because I wanted to but because those are the side effects of effective parenting (as far as I know it anyway). I don’t want to be those things and, naturally, I’m none of the above, so I think this is only a phase – but then I wonder what that means about my “Adult” status.
Over the weekend while visiting my family, Seth and my dad went on a whiskey rant about minivans (Seth wants a minivan more than anything in life – which I’ll cover someday when it matters). Growing up we always had minivans and, while I have nothing against them personally – I actually liked them, I don’t want to own or drive one. My dad was telling Seth how convenient they can be, how spacious they are and tales of how he used to race “kids up on the square” in our minivan. Of course my mother, being my mother, had to throw in her two dollars (it’s never just cents with her) and forget about jumping on a bandwagon – if there’s a bandwagon Janet supports, she’s driving that motherfucker. Sorry, Mom but FACT. So anyway, as I tried putting in my two cents and tried to verbalize – against all odds – why I didn’t want a minivan, my mom interrupted with “It’s not like you’re some young little thing anymore – you have kids – who cares what you drive?!” If you knew what cars I’ve driven in my life, you would find this comment as hilarious as I do.1
But regardless of why my mom so lovingly wants to assume I don’t want a minivan, let me just counter and say just because I have kids and I’m not “some young little thing” (whatever that means) I shouldn’t be pigeonholed into driving a minivan around (carrying what I presume is a dozen or so soccer balls and hoards of filthy children). I shouldn’t have to neglect my taste because I have kids. Maybe I want to hang on to the dream of taking my boys off roading in something other than a minivan. Maybe I just don’t like the aesthetics of minivans. Maybe being an adult is more than a GD minivan, OKAY PEOPLE?
Maybe being an adult is a lot more than all of the things we associate with grownups – and maybe it’s all just bullshit.
I have two college degrees, two kids, a partner in crime (and child rearing) and a career. I have no plans to get married, no current plans to purchase a home, no plans to stay in any one place, no plans for a minivan, no plans to have more kids, no plans to stop having a life and overall just no plans of “settling” in any aspect. And I don’t think that makes me any less adult than any of the adults I know who do have/want these things – maybe even in a more conventional order.
Adulthood is one big Las Vegas magic trick. One day you’re a kid, naïve to everything with a world full of possibilities in your paws. The next day, the world sees you as an adult and you begin to see that being an adult isn’t this magical stage of life where you have all the answers but rather this stage in life when you’re expected to have all of the answers, make all of the right choices and, in the process, forgo all of the fun that others might see as pointless or reckless – including taking chances and putting yourself first. You also become attuned to the world of grown up fears, grown up pain and grown up grief. The innate, overwhelming responses to pain, hurt and betrayal never really go away, you’re just expected to handle yourself better. The short fuses never really get longer, you’re just expected to learn how to manage it without hurting anyone else in the process. Being an adult is mostly about managing a perception. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like an adult but I’m adult enough to recognize that adulthood is, by far, the worst social construct ever created. Fighting the urge to conform is difficult – if not a very low priority – but if anything, I think there’s something to be said for making an effort to battle upstream. I mean, where is the silver lining in thinking tired, boring, grumpy and a little lackluster are what the rest of my days are just meant to be because I’m an adult!?
There isn’t one and to top it off, it’s Monday. So I’m going to choose to have a silver lining – I’m going to call this a phase and if that means my “Adult” status is going to take a hit…well, squeeze me into some green tights and call me Peter Pan – and CUTE AF – because I’m not growing up.
1 I learned to drive on a stick-shift two-door Escort hatchback which was not so coincidentally also my first car. I wish I could tell you how many times I forgot to pull the E brake and found that effer in the middle of the street – the best was when my neighbor would have to walk over to our house, ring the doorbell and wait for my peppy ass to answer the door only to tell me my car was blocking the road – again. I’m forgetful, okay? I’m also thankful. Thanks, neighbs. After the Escort, I inherited a long line of cars my Grandpa had purchased at different auctions to have “just in case” – he’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to knowing a hoarder – and let’s just say none of them were beamers. BUT I’m thankful for all of those, too – thanks, Gramps.