Do you consider yourself grown up?
I don’t, not really. Yeah, I’ve got a husband, two kids, a dog and a house. But deep down, I still feel like a kid.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, either. I mean, don’t we all go through some kind of identity crisis once we have kids? If we didn’t, why else would we volunteer at our kid’s school when we’d rather be tortured or buy minivans that we hate? And then we rebel by tossing back a slew of cocktails or punching our hubby in the face. (Just kidding about that last one. I hope.)
If you’re like me, you wanted to be something big when you grew up. An astronaut, maybe, or a princess. But I can’t ever recall anyone saying they wanted to be a responsible when they grew up. Or an adult. Can you?
And yet there’s a whole army of moms out there who aren’t afraid to look and act like responsible adults. Dads who are fine with their obvious adult-like status.
How does this happen?
Well, if you’re like me and Ken, it happens when your kids are 5 and 3 and you finally realize you cannot live like this for one more day.
You’re tired of scrounging for food.
You’re tired of trying to cook something your kids will eat.
You’re tired of trying to find your kid a clean shirt.
You’re tired of trying to find yourself a clean pair of underwear.
You’re tired of living in your hellhole of a house.
You’re just tired, damn it.
Which is pretty much what happened to us this weekend. On Saturday, we spent two hours trying to get the kids out the door to go to the pool because a) we couldn’t find their swimsuits, b) we didn’t have anything to eat and c) after a and b, we were all pretty damn grumpy.
After Ken and I tortured each other for a good hour (i.e.: fought over why our house was such a pit, why we never had anything good to eat and why no one ever put away the clothes that did manage to get washed), I finally realized something. (If you’re new to this kind of thinking, like I was, go ahead and sit down now, before you pass out.)
I realized that if we were ever going to have any clean clothes around the house, Ken and I were actually going to have to, gasp, wash them.
I told you this was shocking.
Even more shocking was that I remembered a conversation I’d once had with a woman who told me how she did laundry on Mondays, groceries on Tuesdays, vacuumed on Wednesdays and so on, until every day of the week was filled.
I was appalled. I was beyond appalled. Right then and there, I swore that I would never become like that mom. I would never become that responsible.
I would never become a mom mom.
I would not be worn down! Not at any cost!
I would not curtail my rebellious ways! I would continue to wear cowboy boots when I felt like it! Listen to music that was current! Entertain on weekday nights! Go to sleep at 8 pm! (Oops, I didn’t mean to say that one out loud.)
But after all the recent hoopla at our house, I finally realized why so many adults actually do act responsibly, at least some of the time. Because when they get all this goddamn house stuff out of the way, it frees up all sorts of time for the fun stuff.
Like: if we’d managed to find our swimsuits last Saturday, we could’ve made it out of the house before 3pm. And: if I didn’t spend 18 hours a week fighting with Ken, we could finally watch that movie we’ve been trying to watch for the past 3 months.
I know! You could have knocked me over with a feather, too.
See, Ken and I have probably wasted a good 6-8 years of our lives fighting over all the work that comes from having two small kids and a household worth of chores that neither one of us wants to do. Which means that we’ve spent way too much time rebelling against this whole grownup thing in all sorts of small (and not so small) ways.
But here’s the thing: I’m not 20 anymore. I don’t need to prove that I’m independent by refusing to do my husband’s laundry—I can prove that just by opening my mouth. And I don’t need to prove that I’m cool by refusing to discipline my kid—hell, I already prove that every day with my fabulous collection of kid-stained clothing.
When we were young, I don’t think any of us wanted to grow up to be the stodgy parents on the block. But just because we’re taking care of what needs to be taken care of doesn’t mean that we’ve giving in. It means we’ve grown up enough to understand this:
If we stop rebelling over all the little stuff, we’ll have enough energy left to rebel against the stuff that really matters. Like your mother-in-law. (Kidding!) Or that sucky job that’s been draining your lifeblood for the past 5 years. (Not kidding!)
When you stop having to put out all the daily fires that come from ignoring all those boring household chores, you’ll find that you’ve got all sorts of energy left over for the good stuff. Like hanging out with your buds. Getting out of town. Or maybe even getting along with your husband.
You’ll also find that you’ve got all sorts of know-how telling you what’s right for you—whether that’s planting a garden, getting back out into the world or finally going after that dream job.
Because when you stop using all that energy to fight everything that’s coming your way, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.