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.