Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grown Up?


Even though I am quickly approaching 40 I don’t feel like a grown up. It is not that I think there is a numeric age that magically makes you a grownup. There are people younger than myself whom I consider to be grownups, just not myself.

I have a hard time trying to figure out a way to explain my feelings. The first time I ever tried I was in my mid 30s and a couple of months pregnant. In between sobs, I wondered aloud to my husband, “How can I be having a baby?!” sob, sniffle “I am not even a grownup!” It is one of those hysterical pregnant lady moments we laugh about now, but the feelings are still true. I do not feel like a grownup.

The next time I thought about trying to explain these feelings was when Christine, a friend I knew in high school, posted similar questions on her blog These Stones. The link to this particular full post is here. The part that I really connected with was when she said, “I’ve been a mom for almost 4 years, and I’m still asking questions. I guess it is hard to know if we ever really feel like a mom.” For me, forget wondering about being a mom, I stumble on the grownup question first.

I am trying to figure out how to express these feelings that I’ve never heard or read about anyone else experiencing. Is it just me? Or, if I feel this way and Christine has questions, maybe there are others with similar ponderings. Maybe lots of people still feel like someone who is ‘growing up’ rather than someone who is a grownup.

I am a wife, a mother, a teacher. I run a household (two actually, on two different continents) and a classroom, yet if I think of the big picture – the huge responsibility that comes with being a grownup – the weight bears down on me and I start to feel overwhelmed and squished by its enormity. I can manage daily chunks. I can grasp loving, nurturing, and protecting for a day. I can take care of paying the mortgage and planning meals today, but not the idea of 29 years of payments or the never-ending need to feed us and clean up afterwards.

Maybe that is the key. Maybe we aren’t supposed to be a grownup, but continue with our journey of growing up. Maybe we are supposed to just take each moment and hold it for its fleeting bit of time. Maybe the point is to be present in whatever the moment may be. Perhaps we are to be concerned only with the task in front of us and let the grownups worry about the rest.


  1. Exactly,
    I am 62 and proud to say I don't feel grown up. It's that young gem that keeps up open and free to learn. I love playing my guitar with a 7 year old. I tried explaining beats and rests to him His eyes glazed over. Not time yet. We went back to strumming and singing.
    Happy Holidays kid

  2. I'm still a baby in this world, but even as I age I feel no desire to grow up. I think you find it in your closing - Each tiny little moment of "NOW" is all we've got. And since it's all we've got, and since we can, why not rejoice in it no matter what it brings? The big picture you mention exists only as a result of the individual days and moments... and when we really live those moments, the big picture turns out great. =)
    Mariah C.

  3. I'm 54 and don't feel like a grown-up. I think you are right when you say maybe we are supposed to continue are journey of growing up. I also think when you work with kids, it keeps you young and wanting to learn. So, keep learning and exploring. You've got plenty of time to be a grown-up!

  4. I get overwhelmed when I think about the fact that I am now the matriarch of the family. Where did all the grown ups go? You mean I'm a responsible adult now? Yeah, right. 61 is not old enough to be a grown up...at least not in my case. I think I'm still 9.

  5. I believe too that we all have the feelings, but the first time I knew that I must be a grown up even though I didn't want to was when I saw people in pictures or on the street & I thought they looked like my own mom or dad, but then I realized they were my peers. Oops! I loved your last paragraph & its wish to take a day at a time. I think there is some planning ahead to do, but mostly it is enjoy what is. You seem to do that, right?

  6. I LOVE this post! I am 27 and don't feel like a grownup at all, except in the classroom with my kids. I'm so glad to hear that there are other people, even older than me, who share the same feelings! Thanks so much for writing about this feeling -- I don't feel so weird now! I agree with Donna; I think I'm still 9. :-)

  7. I hope I never feel all grown up, with nothing left to discover, explore, know...sounds kinda boring, really!!

  8. Oh! This is a lovely idea. It reminds of Sandra Cisneros's story "Eleven" when she talks about how we are always the age we are now, as well as all the ages we have ever been, all at the same time. Sort of like the layers of an onion.

  9. There were several parts of this blog that clicked with me. One was the feeling as I look in the mirror, see my mother and think, "what was she doing at this age?" and thinking, "I can't possibly as old as she was" as I remembered what she might have been doing at that age. And I guess that really brings me to the second concept, the one about a journey. It is only within the past few years that I've really grasped the fact that I am on a journey and may never reach wherever. The inkling of that began when I was 25 and realized that I was an adult but I hadn't reached the "live happily ever after" that I thought was promised to all teens if they just survived until 21. So I can understand the idea that you may not feel as old as your chronological age - I definitely am not nearly 68 but only 47 and will probably still be that when you are contemplating turning 50. Mom

  10. So glad to know that these feelings are shared. I had never heard people having the conversation. Keep it going!