Adulthood is Overrated

What does being an adult mean to you? And does the word have positive or negative connotations?

After an interesting twitter discussion, hot chick Janiece wrote about her take on the mythical adult; here’s mine.

I have always felt *old*. Controlled. Humdrum. Intense. Stressed. A bit melancholy. I’ve never been particularly good at relaxing, playing, letting go. Since I have been very young, I’ve tried to be the caretaker and the adult to those around me. The whole adult thing comes very easily to me, it’s acknowledging that life can be enjoyed that is a little tougher.

Certainly there are moments where I suddenly feel disoriented and think, whoa, wait — I’m just a kid playing house, how did I end up with my own grown kids?

Still, my life has mostly been a string of sobering moments that have made me painfully aware of my adulthood, my level of responsibility.

  • At 15, I vividly recall helping my drunk father to bed, driving my migraine-stricken mother to the emergency room, and waiting up for my sister to return home from a school dance.

  • At 25 I gave birth to my first son. My husband at the time slept through my labor and delivery and I realized how alone I’d be. Thank god for my sister and mom who were with me.
  • At 27 my eventually-to-be-ex screwed up our money yet again, leaving us thousands of dollars in the hole, and me pregnant and destitute in a foreign country.
  • At 30 I finally divorced the man, which cost me my faith, and moved halfway across the country with my job. My dad not-so-diplomatically informed me I needed to stop leaning on them emotionally, I was on my own there too, and I cried for hours.
  • At 33 my youngest, at 5, had his worst asthma attack ever and ended up in pediatric ICU. Seeing him walk down the hospital hallway pulling an oxygen canister drove home my responsibility like nothing else.
  • At 35, when he was 70, my father died. My mom, sister and I held each other up as we put his memorial together, and I closed down his consulting business.
  • At 38, when he was 13, I held my eldest son through his first tonic/clonic epileptic seizure, then stood by as paramedics thought he wasn’t going to come back from it. He nearly died, and was not there for a very long time. It terrified me.
  • At 40, when he was 15, I lived through several months of that same son’s violent, bipolar, psychotic break. (Related to previous? Probably.) Supporting a child through mental illness that I could not help and could not cure is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, including the next…
  • At 44, when he was 45, I lost my beloved husband to a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Saying goodbye to his cold, still shell and going on alone to support my family and continue my profession and my life was both a challenge and a comfort.

After those painful, transformative life changes I’m consciously trying to enjoy life more, to value family, friends, community and my own health and sanity. I’ve been an adult for everyone for a very long time, and now I choose to work less, to be less obligated, to be less well-behaved. I’ve kicked my kids out to a college apartment. I’m buying a condo and going to Europe.

I plan to grab onto life with both hands, travel, laugh, love and enjoy the ride.

4 Responses to “Adulthood is Overrated”

  1. Tom Says:

    I’m older than you, but not nearly as adult. You’ve had to suffer through more shit than I, but I envy you the love you’ve been privy to, that I have missed.

    Infants go through infantcy, so I think adults should have adultcy. Have an adultcy in Europe, and make your condo your very own. :)

  2. Jeri Says:

    Actually, now that I reread this in the bright(ish) light of morning, I realize I sound like my life has been one long tunnel with little light. Not true! And I’m essentially a happy person.

    It’s just that the moments that most make me realize my adulthood are the ones when the weight of the world weighs heaviest on my shoulders, when I realize that it’s so much more than I can really deal with but I have to keep going one step at a time anyway.

    There have been plenty of joys too… beautiful babies, fabulous family and friends, my sons’ successes and graduations, and more. Somehow they just don’t seem to be as defining as the hard times… is that a flaw in my outlook?

  3. Dr. Phil Says:

    I don’t think it’s a flaw. Anyone can live with joys. It takes character to survive adversity. That’s why they tell writers to pile on the troubles of their protagonists.

    Sort of the evil stepchild of “Normal is boring” and the old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.”

    Dr. Phil

  4. Beast Mom Says:

    Defining moments are usually the tough ones. They have all the sharp edges that we cut ourselves on and definitely remember for the pain.