I’m one of those people who has never been able to sit still in life. I’m always looking for the next thing, the next adventure, or the next project to tackle. It’s exhausting, it’s exhilarating, and it’s been my life.
As a kid, I spent a good majority of my time in a land of make-believe. It was pretty normal for me to “bring” my imaginary class with me to every restaurant and reenact a teacher taking students on a field trip. I was always, always the mom when I played house with my friends. And most of all, I longed for days that those pretend adventures would become a reality.
As I got older, my ability to cruise on from one endeavor felt like I was clicking through a checklist that looked a lot like this:
My life over the last decade:
- Graduate from high school
- Go to/graduate from college
- Get first job
- Get married
- Buy first house
- Get a dog
- Adopt a baby
- Start my own business
- Start another adoption process
- Buy another house
I don’t get super tied up in the emotion of moving from one phase to another, and so far that has served me well throughout my life. But now, I’m embarking on my last year of my 20s (oh my!), and it feels like some of these adventures (we’ll call them that) are starting to repeat themselves.
You know how people say that if they knew how hard something was, they would never have started it in the first place? Well to me, that’s kind of how being an adult feels.
As a child/teenager/college student/young adult, I failed to see that being a real adult has kind of a snowball effect. Getting a job is great, but that means you have to show up every day. Getting married is wonderful, but it requires a lot of work and compromise and time. Owning a home is fun, but stuff breaks and the thing has to be cleaned every now and then. Dogs are super cute, but they wake you up to go outside and get sick and need a place to stay when you’re out of town. Babies are adorable, but they depend on you for every. single. little. thing. Adoption is awesome, but it takes time, there’s heartache, it demands prayer, and it requires perseverance. Starting a business to be around for your kids more is admirable, but it takes money, work, and actual people to pay you to do what you do.
Oh, and by the way, you’re doing all of these things at the same time. Then add another house. Then add another baby. Then add a few more other commitments. There you have it, folks — that’s adulthood.
Adulting is hard.
Isn’t that the understatement of the century? Sometimes being an adult feels impossible. As a person who is always looking to the next thing, right now I look around at my life and think, Can I just sit here for a while and not move? But literally, I just want to sit and not think, and not move, and not pick up toys, or make dinner, or go to the gym, or worry about bills, or notice how dirty this floor is.
As an oldest child (who very much has the personality traits of an oldest child), I have always wanted to be the one in charge. But today, I am the one in charge and I kind of want to see how my 16 month old would do at being in charge for a day because today I just feel so spent.
So, what do we do when adulting is hard?
Like I said, I’m not quite 30 yet, so I won’t claim to have all the answers. What I’m learning, though, is that what makes life beautiful are the little moments in between the big milestones. It’s easy to make a to-do list for the day or list the accomplishments you’ve had over the last decade of your life and get completely overwhelmed. It is overwhelming that the same little girl who pretended to discipline a pretend student is now learning how to discipline a real-life child that I’m responsible for turning into an adult someday who will hopefully be somewhat well-adjusted. It’s easy to feel like a failure at the end of every day when you realize all that didn’t get done and all that needs to be done tomorrow.
But then I remember those little moments of the day that captured my heart. I think about the dance party we had after dinner where my husband danced with our daughter and both of them had stars in their eyes. I remember how hard my daughter laughed this morning when I spilled coffee on myself and screamed (babies have a weird sense of humor). I think about the things that I did instead of laundry — I played and laughed and joked and tickled.
When my daughter is (almost) 30, I hope and pray that she looks back on her childhood the way I look at mine. I don’t remember if my house was clean or if laundry was done. I don’t remember if my mom had showered or how much money was in my parents’ bank account. I remember laughter and joy and meals around the table as a family. I remember little treats like going to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone before bedtime on a Saturday night (we called them pajama rides), and inviting friends over to my house to play Barbie dolls. I remember my mom taking me shopping for school supplies at the end of the summer and meeting my dad for lunch after school on Fridays throughout high school.
I remember all of the things they did to make my childhood wonderful, and not stuff that they didn’t get to. I don’t know if they accomplished all of their goals or moved from one phase of life to the next with ease. I hope that they did, but those things were never amplified in our home.
Love, joy, and family were the things that were of the greatest concern in my home as a child. And what more could we think of to offer our own children? I simply cannot think of a greater gift.
So, my mommy friends, when adulting is hard, spill some coffee on yourself and laugh until you cry. Hug your kiddos and kiss their sweet cheeks. Love your people well and put in the work to make a happy life for your children, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes things can wait for another day, but time does not go backwards and we never get to do over these days with our loved ones again.
Each moment is precious, so don’t let adulting get in the way of living your most beautiful life.