I wandered around, running my errands, eating my Sonic hamburger in my car in front of JoAnn's fabric store ALL by myself today, and I found myself pondering adulthood. While I spent a good portion of my time off from blogging playing Frontierville on Facebook like a damn teenager, I think I have come up with a good list of what it means to me to be a grown up in preparation for my upcoming 35th birthday.
1. Impulse Control -This one is complex for me, because mostly I have always had pretty good impulse control. However, the things that I did do that I believed I had no control over, I did because I wanted to avoid reality-or a certain reality about myself. But, lo and behold, when I did finally face those realities, it wasn't so bad after all. Which brings me to:
2. Demons Belong in Hell, Not in My Head. I mean this metaphorically, of course. Because....
3. FDR was right when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." There are things that I'd like to avoid experiencing, and to the best of my ability I will do what I need to do to avoid those things. But I can't control rapists, child molesters, bank robbers, fascist dictators, or anyone else for that matter. As long as I face the dangers of life with dignity and logic and respond to them appropriately, I can only hope to get through them with minimal damage. My experience with living in fear was lonely and depressing. I'm tired of being afraid.
4. Facing My Own Mortality. I think it's true that children MAKE you grow up, if you haven't already. The hardest thing I ever had to do was tell Molly the fish that she named Bob, was dead. She was three, and no longer could we live in our joyful little bubble of newness. Death entered the room and robbed us of our innocence. Without actually putting it into words, I looked her in the eye and told her that someday I would die and then she would too, and that was if we were lucky. This is somewhat related to:
5. Facing My Own Limitations. I can't be the perfect mother, or the perfect wife, or the perfect blogger. The knitting project I'm working on right now, I forgot to decrease in the right spot and I didn't want to tear it out so I just decreased farther down. I don't have it in me.
6. Admitting These Limitations To Others (Not to be confused with self-deprecation which is not very grown-up at all, in my opinion.) As an obvious example, I hope that by admitting to Molly that I am unable to provide her with everything she needs (or thinks she needs), she will become, over time, more and more self reliant, thus resulting in less resentment on my part.
7. Self reliance. I am part of something larger than myself, a family. I do need this family for emotional and physical survival. Although I don't want to contemplate living without either Mike or Molly, I do know that I don't need them to be a whole person. I can look at myself and my accomplishments and evaluate them for myself. Although I have become a bit of a praise junky in recent years, it is the sentiment behind the praise that gives me joy.
8. I Don't Do Anything I Don't Want To Do. Several years ago I found myself in a situation where I felt trapped and somewhat desperate. I realized that if I did not get out of it, I would kill someone or myself. When I realized that staying meant one or the other, I also realized that I did not want to be a murderer, and I did not want to die. I chose option C, where what I really wanted was still possible. Acting with my best interest in mind ahead of all others has made all the difference in the world. There are small things that I do that I may not enjoy, but I do them because I have bigger things in mind.
9. Long term Goals Are Usually More Important Than Short Term Desires. Hopefully this would leave some room for spontaneous goofing about and, uh, other things. Here's an example: I really don't want to spend the money on school uniforms for Molly. However, I want her to think of her education as important and the school we have her enrolled in, that we are in the district of, has a uniform policy. I also want to find a way to teach her the difference between blind obedience and compliance with social norms and school policies. (Ugh, that's going to be hard.)
10. Finally, Finding Peace With the Past, the Present, and the Future. It's been a hard road, but I finally got to a place where I can be confident in who I am. I found a constant in a turbulent sea, myself. For the most part, I've actually had a pretty good time of it. We shall see what happens next......