Tuesday, December 08, 2009

being a big girl

I attended a Christmas party recently where I sat next to a wonderful and interesting woman who had just turned 60. During the night, we laughed and talked about light and heavy subjects and I enjoyed her conversation immensely.
At some point in the evening, the subject of growing up and becoming 'who we really are' came up. I mused that I still, in my thirties, don't feel like an adult. My personality and feelings remain maleable and not completely formed.
I was slightly embarassed about this revelation that emptied from my mouth (if you know me in person, you know that I am unable to hold much inside...it just skills out while I think it - making me very honest but often quite sheepish afterward). However, I was shocked when she stated that she too has these feelings. She told me that she has thought that you begin to 'feel' like a grown-up when you hit your
70s. 70s!?!?!?!?!?!
I was at once both soothed and horrified by the thought. I felt comforted that a 'real adult' has the same feelings that they have more to learn, more room to grow, more need for change. But i felt horrified that I will be unsure and second-guessing so many of my actions into life as a septagenarian. I had thought that my formation as a grown-up would be complete LONG before then.
This one conversation has given me so much to think on over the last few weeks. It has given me new lenses with which to look at people in my life - my mom, my old teachers, the elderly woman working at Tim Horton's, my grandfather. What are or were they thinking? Do/did they have these thoughts? When did they feel that they had grown to capacity and knew how they felt about so many of life's issues? Do I and my neighbour at dinner just lack confidence and security in our decisions/thoughts or is it all of us who are feeling our way through life much past the teenage years as I had previously thought?
This revelation has me amused pondering what I look like from the outside. Do I look like I have it all figured out? Do I look like a grown-up? I must. Especially since I have recently stopped using the term "When I grow-up...." after Liv informed me that I AM a grown-up. I have replaced it with "When my kids go up...." So now my pie-in-the-sky desires reside in a time after my children are able to care for themselves, I have time to rest when I need it and I can eat chocolate in front of my kids without worrying that any shared pieces will ruin their appetite for dinner or damage their ideas about healthful eating.
Don't get me wrong, I find motherhood the absolutely MOST fulfilling and enjoyable occupation I have ever had or expected to have. But it also the most exhausting and all consuming endeavour I have ever embarked upon. It is still nice to have some plans for the future - a future that is mine. A grown-up me. A me who knows what I want. 'Cause I am still mostly in the dark. Here I come 70!!!


Poppy and Mei said...


Anonymous said...

I am also unable to hold much inside. I constantly find myself after a social event wondering WHY I said those things. It's super-fun! But, not so much.

As for feeling grown-up, I do feel as if getting older has made me feel more comfortable and confident. But I am still waiting to feel really grown-up. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad to know that I'm just nearing the halfway mark.

darcie said...

I always thought I'd be a grown up at say, 25 year old? Now, at 35, I don't even make the bed every day anymore - that's how I know I'm NOT grown up.
Oh well, from what I've been told - grown ups don't have all that much fun anyway!

Lorraine said...

Jackie, I was so glad to read your blog post today. I am 69 3/4 years young with 5 children and 7 grandchildren. I'm so looking forward to feeling like an adult come April.

Kaitlyn said...

Hello!! Have been reading and am now de-lurking. I think that part of what makes us feel not grown-up is the fact that there is always room to grow. We can never, will never know all of our true selves because until the day we (hopefully) die of ripe old age, we will be ever learning. At least I hope so!

leigh in the sav said...

i have become convinced as i have aged that no one feels the age they are. we all likely grew up assuming the older folks in our lives knew what they were doing. that they were grown ups. and that that meant something. i bet if we asked them, they'd say they felt very similarly to what you just described.

i think a lot of us get hung up on achieving a stage called "grown-up," when there is really no such thing. i remember thinking that at 18 years old, i would understand; i would know or "get it". then i thought well, at 21, maybe? no? ok, then 25. nope, not then either. 30? nope.

my father has always said that growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional. and i can say with certainty that i am not a real grown up. i am responsible and most of the time, mature - but grown up in the context of how you described? no way. and i think that's just fine.

Roads said...

One thing I learned, belatedly, is that no one was watching me. I used to think that people would take note of what I did, and see all my mistakes and make their judgments accordingly.

These days I realise that most people are far too busy to have time to watch, or care. It's quite a liberator, to be able to get on with life without trying to keep up appearances.

Does that approach come with confidence, or age? Or just through the process of widowhood, and knowing that you have so many decisions to make, alone, that you can't worry about what other people think any more?

Well, I think we know the answer there.