I have come to the point in my life where most would call me an adult. I am in my mid-late 30’s and married with two small children. I take on many adult-like responsibilities and, though divided between my husband and I, the pressure of adulthood weighs heavily upon me.
The simple definition of an “adult”, according to Webster, is as follows: n. someone fully developed and mature.
Well, that seems pretty broad. According to science, women are fully developed between the ages of 8 and 15 (according to womenshealth.gov) and men begin puberty somewhere between 9 and 14 and it can last, in some, until 20 (or forever…) (as told by plannedparenthood.org). But “mature” is a little more of a gray area. Does having children and a mortgage really make me mature? Wasn’t I so mature when I told a boy, “I love you” for the first time? Or when I drove off all alone with my newly printed driver’s license? Was I finally mature when I went off to college, 1200 miles away from home at 17 and left to my own free will? How about when I said, “I do”? For some, it comes far sooner then hitting any of these milestones. Without choice or discussion, they are left to make adult decisions and carry on adult responsibilities while still inhabiting childlike bodies.
If I really had to think about it, I probably fall somewhere in between. I handled far more than many at a young age, but still remained a child in most areas.
A decade ago I would have never considered even questioning this. I was an adult, of course! I lived alone, maintained a job, paid my bills, had begun a serious relationship—there was no question about it. However, now that I am older, and the complications of life have wormed their way in, I question it daily.
The bottom line is that despite fitting the definition of what an adult might be, I still need my mom and dad.
I have struggled recently. I will not bore you with the details, but you will have to trust that with maturity comes an understanding that you can no longer act like a child in certain ways. That you must take on a level of responsibility that is far greater then you have ever bargained for. I look around and it seems that others have been able to rise to this occasion with grace and confidence, while I still find myself floundering in the corner. I know this is likely not the truth of the matter, that your brain can play tricks on you, see things that are not necessarily the way they really are- but it makes it harder nonetheless.
In these times, I find myself reaching for my dad and my stepmom more and more. Not because I need anything tangible from them, although the occasional hug doesn’t hurt, but because of their unwavering love and strength. Yes, I am an adult, grappling with adult problems, but having people who care about you, love you no matter what, and stand by you with steadfast support is a gift. Knowing that there are people who can feel joy simply from being in a room with me and who can prop me up, no questions asked, after I have bled my darkness onto them, reveled truths that I can barely stand to acknowledge even to myself, is the greatest of what parents have to offer.
Maybe being an adult is coming to an understanding that I will always need them. That no matter how old I get, or how many responsibilities are put on my plate, I can always call on them for assistance. Having one person who will love me and be proud of me for both my accomplishments and my failures is a gem, and I am lucky enough to have two such people in my life.
For some this person may be an aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, friend, teacher, religious figure, spouse, etc. It doesn’t matter who they are, as much as what they stand for. We often attempt to isolate ourselves during our most challenging times, which is just when we need people the most. Even today, I told my parents not to come over, that I didn’t want to talk to them, or anyone for that matter. Of course, as parents do, they insisted that they see my face despite my refusals. In a few short hours, my shame, anger, and sadness had melted away and a smile had returned to my face. While saying goodbye I made sure to tell them, and remind myself, that they are the best medicine. There is no substitute for the love and acceptance of the people you hold in the highest esteem. To feel the darkness inside replaced by the light reflected in their eyes as they look at me proudly. My parents give me a reward I can’t often give myself, they make me understand that I am worthy of love, that there is nothing that can happen, no situation that I can find myself in, where they won’t be there to catch me as I fall, and to help make sure I get back up. There is nothing that will make their love disappear, simply, nothing.
On a side note, I would like my readers to understand that this does not mean that the love and support of my husband is any less significant or meaningful. However, it is different. The love that a parent bestows upon their child (and this does NOT necessarily mean a biological child) is the most altruistic, the truest and purest of loves, there is. It is a love that comes with no questions and no strings attached. In a sense, it is given, with very little, if anything, expected in return. My husband and I are partners, we support each other through thick and thin, but it’s a give and take, as a spousal relationship should be. Yes, I give thanks and love to my parents all of the time, but I would like to think that they would still be by my side just as willingly if I did not. In fact, being the bratty teen that I was, I know that that is, in fact, true.