It happened one day. I became the type of person who stores household cleaners out of reach. The type of person who decides that natural flea treatment isn't working for the cat, so evidently it's time to use conventional products. The type of person who thinks about budgets and grocery lists and BPA-free canned goods. When did I become an adult?
When I was younger, I viewed adults as larger and more composed beings. As having answers when I only had questions. I said goodbye to my mom each morning as I attended school and daycare and thought, 'It must be easy for her to leave.' I watched my dad absorb major world events and thought, 'He must know that everything is going to be okay.' I saw my teachers corralling groups of children and thought, 'They must always feel in control.'
I thought adults had things figured out. Got it right. Knew what in the hell they were doing. But a few decades have taught me that being an adult is not about being perfect. Hopefully, with time and a hefty dose of learning from experiences, we learn how to make good decisions and how to better cope with the day to day. But maybe the secret is: it's never easy, and you never figure it out. You're never okay leaving. You don't know it's all going to work out. And you know you're not in control.
Maybe adulting is more like whack-a-mole. We attend to what's in front of us and hope we'll be ready for what comes next.
And while the unending barrage of 'moles' can feel overwhelming, there are benefits that come with growing up. Every day I get to do these major things. They often seem small and inconsequential, but I know they're important. Delaying my career to be there for my child. Caring less about being liked by everyone. Deciding to treat my body less like an ornament and more like a vessel.
Small things but great in impact. We may have arrived at adulthood with the misconception that there is one way to do it. That it's all about figuring it out or having the answers. But perhaps the best kept secret of adulthood is that you get to make it up as you go along.
Maybe life won't be as we thought, or look the way we once hoped, but at least we can learn to do the best we can with what we have. And when we are our most loving, most gracious selves, we will give others that same sweet assumption: they are just trying their best with what they have too.