By the time this post is published, I will have legally been an adult for half of my life. I have a four-year-old, a Master’s degree, a car that is paid off, and a mortgage. I meal prep, have (or had pre COVID-19) a packed calendar on my phone, and would rather read in bed than go out most nights. But on a lot of days, and in a lot of situations, I still don’t really feel like an adult.
It’s weird. In high school and college, my friends and I all felt so grown up. But I think the more I got thrown into the real world of adulting, the more I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I was (and still am) really good at faking confidence and acting like I know exactly what I should do. But my inner voice is often calling out for my mom’s help.
When I got married at the ripe old age of 26, planning a wedding and following through with saying vows seemed so very grown up. Looking back, I think I was really just a kid trying to plan a grown-up party. And then, when I got pregnant at 30, I felt like I had to sneak down the aisle at the drugstore to buy pregnancy tests, because SOMEONE MIGHT SEE! Surely, once I actually had a child of my own, I’d feel like a real adult. Right?!
Wrong. I can confidently say I typically feel like I’m doing a solidly okay job at momming. But there are so many occasions where I overhear things other moms say to their children or learn what other parents have done to get their kids prepared for the future, and I think “oops! Should I have known that already?” Where is the manual that tells you that preschool registration is in January or February for most places? Or the guide for knowing when you should call the doctor because their poops are a weird color? Or if it’s normal for a toddler to snore? OR HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING EXACTLY PERFECTLY FOR THEIR MENTAL/EMOTIONAL/PHYSICAL/EDUCATIONAL WELL-BEING???
And oh my goodness. Being an actual functioning adult is so much more than just being a good mom. It’s trying to make sure everyone eats decent meals. (It’s really hard for me to tell the kid she’s had fast food chicken nuggets to much already this week when all I want is french fries and a chocolate shake.) And it’s keeping the house from turning into a pigsty. And it’s trying to respond in a reasonable manner when working with other adults, despite the fact I was up at 3 a.m. with a sick kid.
As I write this, I’m realizing what being an adult means for me might have changed significantly since becoming a parent. My child doesn’t define me. But she’s certainly one of the biggest parts of who I am. I have to take care of her, and I want to make her proud. So much of how I respond to the rest of the world is dictated by what I think is right for her. Does that mean that I’m doing okay at this whole adulting thing? I’m sure there are plenty of things I should do differently, but maybe everyone else feels the same way. Maybe every mom wishes for a handbook with tips on how to respond when your kid says something really strange. Maybe all of us struggle with trying to seem authoritative at times. Maybe we’re all just pretending that we know what we’re doing.
With that in mind, if you see me looking like I know what I’m doing, know deep down I’m questioning every second of it and would love some reassurance. I’ll be happy to tell you that you’re doing an awesome job as well and that I’m proud of you. Being an adult is hard.