I remember the actual moment I realized I was a for-serious adult. It was only a few years ago, actually. Even though I’m about to turn 36, I don’t really FEEL like a grown-up, so this was a hard pill to swallow.
Matt and I were in the process of re-financing our mortgage down to a 20-year term. We’d done all the math, figured out the best options for us, submitted all the paperwork, and were just waiting to hear back from the bank. In the midst of this whole thing, we sat at the kitchen table and had a fairly lengthy and involved discussion about real estate taxes and escrow accounts.
I was mid-sentence in this discussion when it occurred to me that A) I didn’t know when the hell I’d learned what real estate taxes and escrow accounts even WERE, but B) I did know what they were and I cared about them to the point that I was discussing them by choice with my husband.
It was a bad moment for me. Suddenly, I wanted not to know. I wanted not to care. I wanted to be responsibility-free and untethered by weighty topics like taxes and mortgages. I just wanted to be a kid again and let someone else figure out the hard stuff and care about the complicated things.
I’ve heard it said that no one really feels like an adult inside, some of us just fake it better than others. Truer words were never spoken. Some days I feel like I’m carrying off the charade admirably, while other days I feel like someone will probably knock at my door at any moment and ask why I’m allowed to own a house and a car and hold a job and care for children and small animals because I am an idiot who’s barely capable of taking care of herself.
It’s also true that my level of maturity and responsibility certainly changes drastically depending on who I’m hanging out with. My kids definitely see me as a boring, overly concerned adult who cares too much about rules and bedtimes and not eating too much junk food. My status as a grown-up comes slightly more into question when I hang out with, say, my sisters, or my friends from high school. Not as many mature discussions and good decision-making happening in those situations.
Fifteen years ago, when I was in college, I was certain that by the time I was the age I am now, I’d FEEL like an adult. (I don’t. At all. In my head I am still 24.)
Now, though, I have sort of realized that I’ll never REALLY feel like an adult, even though I have to deal with adult topics. And that’s probably a good thing. When I get excited about stupid things like the mortgage insurance dropping off my monthly house payments (or the new sponge in the sink), I immediately get sad that I even have to think about those things, and even more sad that I get excited about them.
And that’s good–it means I have retained enough of my youth that I’ll never truly get mired down in that crap. I’ll always prefer to discuss which Ninja Turtle is the coolest (Donatello) over which type of IRA is the best (honestly don’t know on this one).
As long as I can fake it enough that OTHER people think I’m an adult, I can go on living in the goofy dorky world in my head where my level of maturity is questionable at best. It’s more fun that way. Real estate taxes and escrow accounts be damned.