There comes a point in your adult life when you think: ‘Yes, this is it! This is what it surely means to be a grown-up?’ I have yet to reach that point. I am now afraid that I may never reach it and will be doomed to spend eternity in a wannabe adult limbo of sorts: not being allowed the freedom associated with youth yet still expected to pay the mortgage.
It is not so much failing at ‘adulting’, a term which I abhor as much as the task of disembowelling the car of all its bounteous treasure, trash and general crud, as it is assuming the guise of an imposter adult. In summary, I am pretty much lying my way through my mid-thirties.
I’m pretty much certain that I was guaranteed a hefty work wear wardrobe, a classy apartment, a corner office and a rammed social calendar when I grew up. Dynasty promised it.
What I did get was somewhat more haphazard.
When we are young, we assume the air of adulthood; so keen are we to be emancipated from the shackles of childish things. We then spend the rest of our lives trying to reverse time.
I clearly remember one of the pivotal moments where I felt that the promise of all those trappings of a grown-up life might indeed transpire. It was my first-time voting — in the general election of 2002. The result of which should have been an indicator that I would have much work to do to achieve the glossy materialisms of an American TV show.
On paper, I was the equivalent of a Reeling in the Years episode showcasing footage from the sixties where the eldest child announces to their parents that they are joining either the priesthood, bank or the gardaí. I was, what an Irish mammy’s dreams were made of: A mortgage at 23 (nothing makes their chest swell with pride like ownership of land), full-time employment (so they can brag in the village) and married at 26 (again, for bragging in the village).
Yet, I still did not have a clue what I was doing. This train of thought has not slowed as I have gotten older.
Having children — that’s the one. I was now responsible for someone other than myself. Peak grown up territory. To this day I am still waiting for someone to pop around the corner saying: ‘Sorry, we made a mistake; we have someone more capable for the job’. My children have used my ineptitude as a parent to their full advantage.
One more than the other but I had figured as much as soon as she had exited my body.
There is no passing it off as, ‘I’m not a regular Mom, I’m a cool Mom’; the fact that in my thirties I am still quoting Mean Girls gives you a hefty insight into the inner workings of my grey matter. No, I cannot adopt the ‘fun parent’ tag… I’m just too exhausted. The crux of it all is that I still do not have a clue as to what I am doing.
I pay my TV licence (after letting it get to the point where you receive the angry letter telling you to ‘Pay! Or else...’); then moan about having to pay it in between intermittent stalking of the TV licence inspector when he begins doing the rounds… “Do you not want to check mine? I have one, just so you know. I know you know but do you want to see it anyway? Do you?”
I query the overweight charges on the bins, I check my receipt before I leave the till to make sure my reward points are deducted, I have a calendar to write all the mundane daily requirements into, I speed date electricity/broadband/heating providers to get the best match, I have my children at school (relatively) on time each morning and I can pretty much whip up some sort of meal from whatever is left in the fridge and cupboard.
I function as an adult for the most part on the surface. Beneath that, I’m busy envying the young couple who have just purchased their first home across from us and who I envision having breakfast in bed and all-day Netflix binges of a Saturday morning as I’m shoehorning our entire life into the boot of the car at the butt crack of dawn.
Growing up is grand. There are perks; you can stay up late (but you’re too exhausted), drink and eat what you like, have ownership of the remote control and get your driver’s licence. But take a breath and don’t be in too much of a hurry. I’m still waiting for my lightning bolt moment to cement my adulthood status. But, I just spotted the TV licence inspector…