I’ve been married over 14 years, have 2 kids, own a home and am in my mid-thirties and yet for the most part, I’ve always felt like I was faking being an adult or just pretending or playing house. I just never felt grown-up… not really.
Without going into too much detail of why I don’t do these things or why I don’t feel like they apply to me, the following are things I attributed to “adult behavior” based on adults I grew up with or people I saw as grown-ups on TV or in movies:
Enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day (or for a romantic meal)
Drinking at a bar
Having life insurance and/or a will
Having a career
Being generally financially responsible/capable
Having matching/nice furniture
Having a full wallet
The last thing is based on a memory of mine… going out to a store with my mother I would always notice her full wallet and attribute it to adulthood – it was stuffed with her license, several credit cards, store cards, cash, receipts, coins and pictures of us kids (this was back when I had a little girly pretend purse with my mom’s old Diner’s club cards or other pieces of cardboard cut out to be pretend credit cards and some Monopoly money because I didn’t have real cash) and it always looked like she wouldn’t be able to clasp it because it was so full. And she of course, was definitely a grown up in my eyes (whether she felt like it or not).
I have kind of felt like my hubby & I have been faking it along the way. Big purchases were because of generous family or a bank and we hardly did anything “big” on our own as we’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck (which just honestly makes me feel immature like I should know or be doing better). We’ve never had a savings account of any means until the last couple years and we still don’t have life insurance or a will. Any time something needed fixing, we’d do it ourselves (usually non-standard methods, probably involving duct tape) or we take the denial/do nothing approach and hope for the best (i.e. our roof). We are not “hire it out” type of people and I used to think that was an admirable quality of a do-it-yourself-er, but now I think it was more out of necessity because we thought we couldn’t afford to hire it out or have it replaced.
Well this past week I actually felt like an adult for the first time in my adulthood.
We unexpectedly lost our tenants of 3 years for the home we own and had to rent out about 1000 miles from where we live now. So we had to make the long trip north and flip the house, meet new tenants and get a new lease signed. Things were in much worse shape than we’d imagined.
For some reason the trees seemed to grow in 3 years more than they did for the 7 years we lived at the house. The limbs were scraping the siding, going up under the flashing and on top of the roof on both sides of the house (as you can see from these pictures).
Everything was overgrown on the ground as well. Apparently our tenants did not take advantage of the weed whacker or hedge trimmer we’d provided for them.
There was already plenty of clean up and paint touch up that needed to be done on the inside, so we just didn’t have the time for the outside. So we arranged a landscaper/maintenance guy to come out and give us an estimate (and it turns out he’s a plumber too, so we’re having the leaky tub faucet fixed and our boiler serviced as well).
We also had arranged an electrician to come and fix an issue our house has had since Sandy hit last year. Another big thing was that the carpet in one of the bedrooms needed to be completely replaced (for some reason I always thought we couldn’t afford this – like it would be $1000 or more… turns out we could have it installed for $350 or less).
I also turned out to be the only capable person doing all the work at the house for the limited 2 days we were there. We had both kids with us and hubby fell ill (fever, feeling weak & dizzy) and so it was like I had 3 kids and a SHIT TON of work to get done and it was all on my shoulders.
At some point during the walk-through of our yard while holding my almost 1 year old and talking to the tree guy, it really hit me that I am a real grown-up. Maybe it was a combo of all that was going on, but that’s when it hit me. It felt real. I didn’t feel like I was “faking” it… I was actually doing adult things and taking responsibility for all going on with my home and doing the responsible thing by arranging tree limbs to be cut down so my roof/siding could be saved and my house could have sunlight again instead of growing green moss. (I kind of felt like the “old us” or “faking us” would have just let the trees be and leave hoping for the best instead of dealing with it.) We even purchased a power washer and hosed the outside of the house so it looks so much better now.
Honestly I felt just a glimmer of what it must be like to have means (or win the lotto) – to have a problem and be able to hire out the solution… to ask someone to just “take care of it”. I almost forgot that yes, I still had to consider what it would cost and what was available in my checking and savings accounts. (And another thought that perhaps made me feel more grown up… without going into the specific numbers, let’s just say that both our checking & savings accounts had over 4 digits… for 99% of our marriage, we could never claim that!)
And that wallet? On the way back home on our long journey it occurred to me that I *have* that wallet now. I’ve spent most of my adulthood without ever having cash – I’ve always used my debt or a credit card and I never found the need to pay cash for anything (unless I was going somewhere I knew I’d need cash for, then I’d get some out, spend it and usually there would be nothing left that ever stayed in my purse very long). But recently I’ve sold some items on Craigslist or on a local Facebook group and I actually had close to $100 in 10’s, 5’s and 1’s in my wallet for a change (and it’s been in there for at least a few months… not normal for me).
Hubby was buying gas and I saw the sign for the lotto and I hung $1 out the window and asked him to go get a lotto ticket (it always seems luckier to buy lotto tickets out-of-state – don’t ask me why). He came out quickly to say they had ripe bananas for $ .89 (just moments ago while we were packing up at the motel, I realized I’d forgotten to take a banana from my in-laws to have available for my baby for her breakfast like she always eats). So I quickly opened my wallet and easily took out another $1 like it was no big thing and he went back into purchase it while I stayed in the car with the kids. It was nice to have cash available like that. I looked at my wallet just then and there they were – a license, credit cards, store cards, gift cards, business cards, receipts, change, cash and pictures of my kids… I had my own version of my mom’s wallet (and I can’t close mine). It just hit me then too… my 8 year old probably looks at my wallet like I looked at my mom’s and of course he thinks I’m a grown up.
So here I am, finally feeling like a real adult. So maybe I can stop feeling like we’re just pretending.
So who knew all I had to do was hire out some work and have cash in my wallet to feel grown up? It’s more than that of course, but apparently it is what it took for my life of adulthood and actuality to sink in.