Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A grown-up kid

I'm fairly certain that adulthood doesn't come naturally to most. At least it didn't to me, although I think I fake it pretty well. (Just know that I'm constantly repressing some level of immaturity and/or selfishness.) In building a home, marriage, and career I often feel that I am simply "playing pretend" as I mimic things I've seen various adults/actors do. In fact, for the whole first year of my current job, I was on edge, feeling certain that at any moment my superiors would suddenly see through my act and go, "wait a minute, who is this Jill girl? I think we've hired a child for an analyst! Quick, do something before the stockholders find out!" (It didn't help that I was a good 15 years younger than the youngest colleague in my office...)

Then there are the moments when I realize that yes indeed I am an adult. For example, a blatant disregard of consequences is no longer a hallmark of my character. Threats of bodily harm suddenly loom present and real, thus keeping me in check when pursuing adventure (which is rather ironic since I NOW finally have health insurance - also very adult of me). A good night's sleep or an evening at home is now cherished as a treasured gift from On High. There was the time I discovered the perfection and beauty of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and eagerly sought out more and more things to clean - on a Friday night no less. (Yeah, I was definitely an adult then. Or maybe just someone desperately in need of a life.) It was very grown up of me when I avoided opening last quarter's 401k statement. (Yikes. Worrying about retirement is definitely adult.)

And then there was the time, just last week, when my father-in-law (the one who was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease) mentioned his final wishes and living will to an audience of his wife, three oldest children, and their spouses. I don't know what I was in that moment. I felt adult contemplating the reality of losing a parent, but was still childish in my confusion, and (I'll admit) in my fear of death in general. I felt grown up as I wondered how exactly I was to be a dutiful/respectful/supportive daughter-in-law as well as a supportive wife to this man's son, who I love more than I can comprehend. My adult self put my own concerns on hold momentarily as I silently sent my love and concern to the other family members in the room. And I think it was the adult part of me that ached for my yet-to-be-conceived children who will probably never know their father's dad. However, despite all these grown-up emotions and thoughts, the child in me yearned to be held and soothed, preferably by my mom, who I called as soon as I was alone. I don't know which part of me will play the larger role as this all plays out - the child or the adult - nor do I know which I'd prefer.

I do know that Disneyland was the best place we could have spent last weekend - the place where the distinction between adult and child is blurred and is frankly unimportant as everyone - child and grown-up alike - is simply interested in a good time and in creating good memories. So, as much as the kid in me loved getting to go to the front of all the lines (thanks to my father-in-law now being confined to a wheel chair), the image I will probably remember and cherish most is that of my little nephew sitting on my father-in-law's lap while his grown son (my husband) pushed them all over the park while we girls/women just struggled to keep up with them. It was a good day - a good weekend. Whether child or adult, I can appreciate that.


Elise said...

Thank you for sharing. Being an adult is scary. Life is too real.

ruth said...

This was a great post. I Have those moments too when I think "oh yeah I'm the adult" It's weird.

Kat Clark said...

Oh man! I just stopped crying over something like a half hour ago! Now I am all pregnant and emotional once again. Very sweet and sad and darn you for making me cry!

Reader peter and Camillie kay said...

oh fun for you two to get to share these moments with your father (in law). im a bit envious. being adult about it is quite hard, I found it easier to be a little girl. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Ken said...

My dear Jill,

It is easy to see why you are the love of Kenny's life. Kristee and I are very blessed and grateful for your kindness and love in our lives.

My Grandpa Neff passed away just less than a year before I was born. I want you to know, I know him and feel his love every bit as much as the grandparents I knew in this life. He has always been an active part of my thoughts throughout my life, and I look forward to my association with him after this life. I know I will know your children and they will know me.

As for Disneyland. I didn't realize that Kenny was letting me free wheel by letting go of the wheelchair on the down hill slopes. LOL. If I had known that I would have tried harder to get away.

About being an adult. I'm still working on that grown up thing myself and still wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

We love you both and thank you for an answer to prayers weekend.

All my love,


Ken said...
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