Wednesday, January 9, 2013

on becoming grown.

{photo by Kristofer Johnsson}

Way back in October, as trick-or-treaters came to our front door for the very first time, I looked at Jordan and said, "This is what grown-ups do."

For some reason, in my mind, hosting kids in costume and rewarding them with candy (the good kind, you guys... not the cheap stuff) was something only grown-ups did. 

I've found myself saying this phrase often these last few months, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm actually becoming more adult, or if at 26 I'm just finally identifying these small characteristics I've always associated with growing up.

Things like... 

... packing my lunch the night before. 

... turning off Netflix in time to go to bed. 

... getting up early to walk around the neighborhood. 

... having a fully-stocked medicine cabinet. 

... buying Drain-o. 

... grocery shopping at 10 in the morning. 

... scheduling our meals.

... listening to NPR. 

... doing laundry the minute it needs to be done instead of letting it amass into out-of-control piles.

... eating fruits and vegetables.

... carrying a water bottle around.

... accepting confrontation as an occasionally necessary part of life.

... buying underwear.

... working toward reconciliation.

... picking up the phone instead of texting.

... choosing home.

These are the things that constantly feel elusive to me, and the moment one of them becomes attainable, I instantly feel like I've conquered the world.

In her book A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L'Engle writes it's not chronological aging that's difficult (that, she says, is a "nuisance" and "frequently a bore"). Instead, it's maturity she has to constantly grow into.

"...The experience which can be acquired only through chronology will teach me how to be more aware, open, unafraid to be vulnerable, involved, committed, to accept disagreement without feeling threatened..., to understand that I cannot take myself seriously until I stop taking myself seriously." Those things, she says, lead to true adulthood.

I think sometimes I get wrapped up in grocery shopping and folded laundry -- and let's face it, those tasks need to be completed -- but forget there are other marks of adulthood, marks I may not even know I've reached until I'm faced with a situation needing maturity and grace.

Over Christmas break, I washed a load of our nice clothes with a couple of butter soaked rags. (My homemade cinnamon rolls were delicious, but created a flowing river of butter off our counter tops.) The result? Several of our sweaters and jeans came out of the dryer with odd-shaped grease stains. I felt like such an idiot. Who messes up their laundry at 26 (almost 27) years of age? I mean, I've practically been doing laundry for 10 years!

Fast forward a few weeks, when I became aware of a rather uncomfortable situation that required my apologies and a whole lot of grace and patience. Although I didn't handle the situation perfectly, I did so much better than I would have even just a year ago. I took a breath, sought counsel from Jordan, said a prayer, and made a phone call. I didn't gossip (even though I wanted to), and I didn't over-analyze. Instead, I apologized and did my best to march forward in that relationship.

I guess what I'm saying is: I'd rather have grease-stained clothes than the emotional maturity of a 16-year-old. Lord knows I've got a ridiculously long way to go, but that phone call? It felt like a milestone. It showed me I'm different now than I was. I'm a work in progress, but I'm growing.

Maybe that's what being an adult is most of all. 


Amanda said...

I completely identify with this post. And I'm going to be 33 this year. I still do things that make me feel like a teenager (and I'm sure my family and friends think so, too!). But I look back on what I was like when I TURNED 30, and it's a huge leap, so that's pretty comforting.

And the butter stains? Girl, I totally would have done that. I say this because two weeks ago, I washed a brand new sweater with some non-conforming colors and ended up with a large turquoise used-to-be-a-sweater mess.


Caitlin said...


I so identify with this post as well. At 29, I often feel like I'm not "grown up" enough, and yet there are certain things that I do, or attitudes that I have that seem so very grown up to me. And I'm totally with you on NPR. I'm still getting the hang of laundry, and I do let it pile up. Your list inspired me to make a habit for each month this year to try to develop some of the traits and habits I would like to have as an "adult", whatever that is. :) As always, I love your blog! Such thoughtful and thought-provoking posts.

Lauren said...

So good. This completely resonates with me!