I’ve been old enough to serve jury duty and order drink specials for a while now, but nevertheless, it has taken some time (and two children) for my adulthood to fully manifest itself.
The pre-motherhood version of myself, who earned a salary and left for work before the sun came up, didn’t necessarily feel grown up. She’d do stuff like leave her clothes in the washing machine until the mildew-stink took over, because quite frankly, she just didn’t have time for that shit. She had to make it to happy hour, get her nails done, and play beach volleyball with her friends.
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But times and circumstances change, and though my journey to adulthood has been slow and steady, I have finally arrived. It didn’t happen as the result of any specific event, or at the start of any magical age, but rather due to a collection of little lessons and changes that were subtle at first, then glaring.
It wasn’t my mortgage that made adulthood sink in, for example, but the fact that I began to regularly wipe down my cabinets and walls. A few years ago, I would have thought it a ridiculous and neurotic thing to do, but now I know it’s totally normal. (It’s totally normal, right? RIGHT?)
It wasn’t the IUD I had implanted in my uterus that made me feel like a grown-up, but the recent revelation that keeping a wide selection of lube in the bedroom is not necessarily a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.
It wasn’t the loose skin around my stomach that brought about the reality of adulthood, but the fact that I recently bought my first one-piece bathing suit. I now value comfort and ease over flaunting a once-hot body. I’m no longer that woman at the pool with her butt crack hanging out, which can happen so easily when little feet dangle near the hip.
It wasn’t embracing my mom-friends that showed me I had become a woman, but embracing my mom-clothes. I now understand that a few extra inches of fabric are nice when you’re constantly bending and squatting at playgrounds. And let’s face it—when you already have kids hanging and pulling on you, the last thing you want is a pair of coochie-cutters intruding in on your lady parts.
It wasn’t dropping my kids off at the gym’s child-care center that made me feel like a grown-up, but the fact that I can’t do certain jumps without peeing my pants a little bit. It’s hard enough to remember to pack a change of clothes for my children, never mind for myself.
It wasn’t that adulthood had arrived when I started not to care about how my butt looked in a pair of jeans, but when I realized I now have my mother’s ass. I remember being so fascinated with that jiggly thing as a little girl, and now it is the very thing I catch glimpses of in my own mirror.
It wasn’t keeping a budget that turned me into a grown woman, but the fact that I became willing to pay more for convenience. Two-day shipping, non-stop flights, and already-prepared baby food may cost a little extra, but I’ve learned that they are so worth it.
It wasn’t necessarily becoming a mother that showed me the path to adulthood, but the fact that I began to hear my mom’s voice in my own responses to my son’s inquiries. I continue to hear her in little phrases and explanations, as well as in the way I say “We’ll see” to things I don’t want to agree to, but I know I’ll cave on later.
Reaching a certain age didn’t make me an automatic adult, but coming to the realization that a year is basically equivalent to the blink of an eye did. I think of all those clichés that warn us about time going so quickly, and I completely get them now.
When I had my first child, my sense of self shifted, mainly due to the constant duty and demands of motherhood. At the time, I kind of assumed the changes would be temporary, but I’ve realized now that I will never be the same. As time slips by, we change, grow, and age.
It is a bittersweet process, but I like who I am, even though I now identify as a “grown-ass woman.” It happens not through a particular rite of passage, but through a collection of subtleties—things like gallons of lube, no-nonsense bathing suits, and Poise pads at the gym.
This original piece by Panda Elder was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Image © ipag via depositphotos.com.