Do you ever catch yourself thinking you would like to do something but hesitate because that is for “grown ups” and then have to think, gee, I’m 64 I can do that now? Surely I am not the only one who has trouble reconciling the fact of another birthday with the act of actually growing older. Now this is different from knowing I actually look older (can’t deny that gray hair and wrinkles!) but something in my mind. It may be connected to the inability to remember that my babies are grown. It is always a shock to see Amanda as a grown up woman with a teenager of her own and Luke with his receding hairline.
This phenomenon really struck me one day when Nort and I were talking about our parents. I said that I remembered thinking that someday I would grow up and get to have a real cocktail party. Something very Mad Men like. With a pretty dress, canapes and cocktails, but no cigarettes. Or having a cocktail hour in the evening. That was such adult stuff to me. My precious husband just stared at me and then said, “Linda, you are over 60, how old do you think you have to be?” Huh? I’m 60? I’m an adult? Mind blown.
When we were kids, Mother loved asparagus (I think Daddy did too, but mostly I remember how much Mother loved it). But back then it was either very expensive or they were very young and broke. They would buy asparagus for special occasions but it was reserved for the adults. “This is an adult food, you wouldn’t like it” was the explanation and we accepted it just like we did anything else we were told was for adults only. Now it could be that she knew it was taste we would need to develop, but I really think it was to savor and enjoy something that was theirs alone.
Fast forward several years. I love, love, love lamb chops. A lovely lamb chop and some mint jelly is a thing of beauty. But, they are outrageously expensive. They were so when I was a young mother and still are today. Lamb chops are for very special occasions (like asparagus). I would buy two lamb chops for me and then fix pork chops for the kids. “This is an adult food. You wouldn’t like it so I fixed something I know you like” was how I explained it to them. And you know what? They accepted that explanation. Amanda loves a lamb chop now because she knows she is all grown up. Luke still doesn’t like them.
I am not the only one who uses the “grown up” card. When the girls were very young, Jana, Shannon, Amanda and I were shopping in Memphis. Jana and I got a Coke and of course the girls wanted one of their own. Now this is when we were younger and both of us definitely on the broke side of finances, and while one Coke was in the budget, two were not, especially knowing they would not finish a whole one. “Oh girls, you can’t have one. It is just for adults and illegal for kids to have one in public. I’ll let you have a drink of mine,” said Jana. And bless their little hearts, they fell for it.
Now, there are somethings that I figured out on my own. As a teenager my need to immediately answer a phone (it might be a boy!) was a given. Of course, this was back when a phone call was something still kind of special. Since Daddy was the town pharmacist, we had to have a private line and not a party-line so we always knew a ringing phone was for a member of the Barber family. This lasted for years. The phone would ring and I would answer. No question. Same thing with door bells/knocks. You hear it, you respond. Then, one night I was watching a new episode of Hill Street Blues. (When you either watched or had to wait until re-runs.) My phone rang and of course, I had no idea who it was. Maybe it was someone I wanted to talk to, maybe not. Either way, it was going to interrupt me. Friends, I did not answer the phone and the world did not end. I staked a claim on adulthood. I also discovered I did not have to answer the door if I did not want to as happened while watching Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (don’t judge). So liberating being an adult!
Laura and I laugh so often about the “old hides” we used to work with, me at Whirlpool and she at Trane. They seemed to be ancient and we could not imagine ever being that old, crabby and still working. Dear Lord, we are so much older now than they were then. When we talk about little old ladies and old men we knew and realize that they were only in their forties at the time, it is still such a shock to us. I can remember when we first moved to Mulberry and how happy my grandparents were that we were so much closer to them. My daughter is older now than Mother was then and I am so excited that she can meet us half way to see our granddaughter. How did that happen?
There are so many things about being a real grown-up that I have embraced over the past years, so many things that either I wanted to do or that I realized were really necessary. I have discovered that my parents were right about a lot of stuff we do to make our lives and the lives of our families better, whether we want to do them or not. There are a lot of things I have let go of with gratitude since I am an adult and don’t have to do to be “cool.” I will still continue to learn for my own sake, not because I have to go to school; I keep my room clean (well, sort of) for my own sense of peace; I don’t eat a candy bar and Coke and call it lunch (most of the time) for my own health.
There are perks to being right in the middle of the age of gray. I know that I don’t have to measure my husband’s love by what he buys me, all I have to do is see how he looks at me. I have seen what wonderful people my children turned out to be and I have a precious grandchild to spoil rotten. I don’t have to put up with rudeness from people just because they are older than I am. I have learned to love my body for what it does for me, not how it looks to others (most of the time) and that good health is more important than I ever thought it would be. And of course SENIOR DISCOUNTS!
I don’t think I will ever fully realize that I am an adult, grown-up person since I usually don’t feel that way, no matter what the calendar or my mirror says. Even when I am lamenting some weird new trend young people have embraced and worse, say something out loud, I catch myself saying “I sound like an old lady” and let it go. Because darn it, I’m not an old lady. Also, there are so many things I look forward to doing that are adult things and I know I still have so much to learn. Have you reached that magic point of full adulthood? What made you realize that you were there? Will you let me know when I join you?