Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In which I don't feel very much like a grownup . . .

I don't really feel very much like a grownup. There. I said it. Notice I didn't say adult; that title is conferred upon anyone who passes their 18th birthday. I guess I'm not really sure what a grownup is supposed to feel like. I always imagined I'd feel different. I thought I'd look different, too; grownup clothes and all that. I certainly knew I'd act differently. After all, a grownup is responsible. You make your own doctor's appointments, you buy your own toothpaste. You spend your own money, and when you run out that's it. You pick out your own clothes, for better or for worse. If you want to walk out the door looking "like no nice girl in my day would have" you're free to do that, provided you're covered within the confines of the law, of course. You carry a purse (if you're a girl) instead of a backpack, because you're not a student anymore. You drink coffee to stay awake, and most of the time you even drink it black. The pinnacle of true grownupness, in my young mind, was that cup of black coffee. I couldn't figure out how anybody could drink the stuff. The rich, brown odor was deceiving. It tasted nothing like it smelled. And yet my parents, and most other grown-ups, drank cup after cup of the stuff, the stronger the better. I tested this theory every time I made coffee for them (somewhere around 5 scoops is the point of diminishing marginal utility, apparently). Periodically, I tasted my handiwork plain and unadorned, but I just couldn't drink it. I had my coffee either heavily laced with cream or swirled through the steaming, milky foam of a latte. I began to think perhaps I'd never be a grown-up.

Perhaps I should explain how I came to ponder this subject. It started this past weekend, on a trip over to the coast for the day. We'd decided that the hour's drive was doable with Emily and Erin, now that we were comfortable enough with our routine to take the show on the road. As we were driving over, I asked Dan if he'd ever imagined what he'd look like as a grownup. I added that I had somehow always imagined that one day, I'd suddenly start dressing and acting like.  . . like other grownups. The moms, the ones who went out with their little ones looking polished and chic, effortlessly pulled together in slim, fashion-forward jeans and sweaters or trendy jackets, always wearing svelte heeled boots or trim little ballet flats, never tennis shoes. Their hair was always presentable, if not impeccably styled. I pictured myself falling into this style as effortlessly as these moms seemed to have created it, but somehow it never happened.

I'm not exactly what you'd call frumpy, but I'm not a trendy dresser either. I tend towards the more casual, comfortable clothing I've worn since the end of high school, updated periodically as I find new things I like. I'm good at looking cute, but I've never gotten the hang of looking "polished" or "chic" on a regular basis. I have to work at it. Which brings me back to the original conversation. Headed over to the coast, I was wearing a black cotton t-shirt with a deep v-neck over a white lace-trimmed tank top; well-worn jeans, and black Converse tennis shoes. I'd brought along a hooded pullover sweatshirt, emblazoned with the logo of the cross-country team I helped coach last fall. If you didn't know me, catch a glimpse of my wedding ring, or see the twins, it'd be hard to tell coach from runner. I am young (26), and I look even younger. But I digress. I've tried to dress my age, but I just can't do it. It doesn't fit my lifestyle. I own several pairs of cute ballet flats, and I wear them on occasion, but I get blisters and sore feet from making them everyday shoes. I have graduated from wearing running shoes on a regular basis, which is an improvement. I just still dress . . . well, like I did in college. Which is a step up from how I dressed in high school. And I don't know if that will change anytime soon. Right now, I feel like I'm doing pretty well if I get out of the house with a clean shirt on ;)

So perhaps there's more to this grownup thing. Back in high school, there were certainly people who routinely looked more pulled-together and polished than I could if I tried. And I know other grownups who don't drink black coffee - some who don't drink coffee at all, in fact. Starbucks wouldn't be in business if everyone preferred their coffee black! I do other things that grownups do; I make my own doctor's appointments (heck, I make the whole family's doctor's appointments!) and I buy our toothpaste. As for the grown-up feeling? Well, maybe it's there and I just don't recognize it for what it is. After all, I've been working full-time since I was 20. I got my bachelor's degree while working full-time and going to school full-time. I'm a Mrs. and a mommy, both trademarks of the female grownup set. I even got a phone call yesterday, from the pharmacy at Target, asking if I was Erin's mom. I was so startled I almost didn't know how to respond! Being identified only as your child's mother - now that is one of the ways you know you are a parent!

I suppose that even without that grown-up feeling I expected, somewhere along the way, I did indeed become a grownup. I don't think that polished, chic look will ever come naturally to me, and my life feels pretty complete without it. I don't want to stop trying - after all, I want my daughters to know their mama is confident in her looks and dresses to show that confidence, as they should too - but I'm going to stop waiting for it to happen on its own. I don't know if I look the part, but I can certainly play the role. And as if God somehow knew I was looking for proof this past weekend, it showed up right before my eyes. On a white saucer, to be exact, in a matching white mug. It was steaming hot and richly fragrant, and flanked by two tiny plastic tubs of cream. Ordinarily, I'd peel back the lids, pour in the cream, and stir while my coffee slowly turned the color of my summer tan. But that evening, I had only one hand free; the other was busy holding a bottle for Erin, who was sitting next to me in her carseat. Without a second thought, I picked up the cup and sipped. It tasted . . . just like it smelled. Rich, warm, and satisfying. The most grownup drink (sorry, alcohol) I've ever had. I'm still pondering the true state of "grownup-hood," if you will, but something changed when I finished the last sip of that coffee. Maybe grownups do wear American Eagle jeans and Converse tennis shoes. This one certainly does.

3 comments:

  1. I feel this way all the time. I think it has to do with the fact that we slowly grow into 'grown ups', so it's hard to recognize. It's not like one day we are a dependent teenager and the next we are a responsible wife and mother, you know? When I'm with my parents, I feel sort of child like. When I'm alone or with my husband, I feel much more like a grown up. It's weird.

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    Replies
    1. Stacy, I think you're onto something! :)

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  2. hi there, found you via the hop :)

    drop by nichollvincent.blogspot.com and say hello :)

    have a good one!

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