At what age are we really adults?

Dad and me, ca. 1978

I wonder if I’ll one day reach an age when I no longer have “oh my gosh, I’m an adult” moments. I’ll be 34 on Saturday. As I type it, it feels mature. But I still have sharp flashes of that feeling from time to time, like I can’t believe I’ve gotten here by myself, without being instructed by an actual grown-up.

Checking into a hotel alone.

Writing notes to my daughter’s teacher.

Speaking at a conference.

Repairing something with tools.

The list used to be longer, though.

When I went out to dinner with friends instead of eating at home with my parents.

Nice dinner I made for myself

When I cooked dinner at home – my own home – instead of going out with friends.

Ordering a drink in a restaurant.

Ordering it neat.

Staying up late – really, really late.

Waking up early, without a headache.

When I did my own laundry.

When I did someone else’s laundry.

Pruning the tall hedges in front of my house.

Paying someone else to prune the tall hedges.

The first time I drove across a state line.

The first time I flew across the country.

I was relieved to turn 30 because I thought people would stop making comments about my age. Thirty would feel more sophisticated, a more appropriate age to be a mother and a boss – both of which I’d been for a few years. I realized later – as I’m sure everyone in such a position does – that these folks had either similar personal timelines or a regret that they didn’t.

Add this to the list –

I felt like a grownup the first time I said, with my own regrets: “I did everything too soon.”

And I felt like a grownup when I later thought, “No. No, I didn’t.”

Lily, Mom, me.


6 thoughts on “At what age are we really adults?

  1. Older than some of the parents of doctors, teachers, police, talented writers, attorneys, etc. And yet sometimes, I don’t feel older than any of these. Have a happy birthday sweetie. Not sure yet if I’m mature enough to be your mom.

  2. I really felt age when I was older than the professional athletes I wrote about. That hurt.
    Then again, when it comes to caring for a child, I still don’t feel old enough. Or, better said, I don’t feel mature enough.

  3. two times for me, babyE — when both my parents were dead, and when i was older than the president … (though in my mind, i’m still 18) …

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