How To Know You’re An Adult

During the week, I usually get up at six where my son, Lucas, is impatiently waiting for me. The morning routine can seem daunting, especially when my eyes are half closed, but it becomes easier with repetition. I get him dressed, cleaned up, and all glittered up for Easter, as they say. From there, we head into the kitchen where I give him vitamins, breakfast, make sure his devices are charged, and write in the notebooks to his teachers. After that, it’s socks, shoes, jacket, bookbag, and waiting for his bus to arrive.

In between these things, I have to take my own morning pills, make my own morning coffee, mentally prepare for my daughter to angrily wake up, and retain my own morning sanity. While doing these tasks and many more that I complete almost robotically, the freakin’ cats are singing me the hunger song of their people and, throughout my morning ritual, I intermittently tell them to “wait” while they reply with loud and dramatic, “Meooooooowww”s until I scoop food into their bowl and silently call them bad things in my head.

This morning sounds insane and it definitely is. Keep in mind, though, this isn’t a rare morning. It’s a common one. Class picture days, procrastinated showers, and missing socks can all throw a wrench into my morning plans unexpectedly at any time. It can make things rather rough. That, however, isn’t what truly makes me an adult. Nope. I’ll tell you the secret of what makes me an adult.

I’ll wake up tomorrow morning at six and do it all again.

Yup. No one claps for you. No one sings your praises. No one says, “Oh, you should rest tomorrow. You did a lot today.” Nope. You do it. Then, you do it again. You keep doing it until your kids no longer need you to or you die. That’s the only way you escape. Welcome to the Hotel Responsibility, where you never leave. You can’t even check in any time you like. Nope. It’s 6AM. Check in here is at 6AM.

adultIt’s not just limited to those with kids either. Being an adult, of any kind, requires blind repetition that seems to go against everything you’ve taught yourself during your formidable years. It’s about taking the most burdensome tasks, doing them perfectly without any sort of immediate personal reward, and then repeating them forever.

Remember $1000 when you were a kid? It sounded like enough money to buy a planet. I remember sitting in elementary school and daydreaming about finding a wallet with even a portion of that money. To a ten year old, one thousand might as well be one bazillion. That’s more money than I could even imagine.

Today, we pay more than that in utilities and household costs. You’ll write a check or punch in your credit card number and – boom – in the blink of an eye, you’ve given away $1000. No planets. No mansions. You spent it on heat and electricity – two things you never even thought about costing money before you were tasked with paying for them. Now, it’s gone.

The crazy part? No one thanks you for it. As a kid, I would have thought paying $1000 to someone would earn me a ticker tape parade. The electric company doesn’t call and say, “Hi? James? We just got your payment. Are you sure? That’s a lot of money. You saved it all up? We’re all very impressed here. Good work. $1000 is a lot. Wow. The parade is on Monday.”

Nope. No one thanks you. No one notices. The only time anyone notices is when you don’t pay it. The worst part is that they make you do it again next month. They even have the nerve to get mad if you’re late.

It’s like taking care of your kids. Feed your kids every day and no one cares. Forget to feed them for one and people in uniforms will be there with drug dogs. That’s because all of these selfless or difficult acts that you’d be amazed you could do once when you were a kid, you now do over and over again for the rest of your life. Nonstop.

Throw all your chores into that basket too. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and any of those related jobs aren’t one and done. They’re continuous efforts. You don’t get a big “way to go” pat on the back for washing plates as you might have once expected. Nope. Now you do them and no one cares. In fact, sometimes a person will actually come along to put a dirty dish in the sink right as you’re washing them. You don’t smash them over the head with it because that too is part of being an adult. Congratulations. You’re adulting all over the place.

That’s what adulthood is. It’s doing things. It’s about not knowing if you can do them and still doing them. It’s about telling yourself there’s no way you can keep doing them and still getting up and doing them. It’s about picturing yourself not doing them, insisting to yourself that you won’t do then, and even crafting the ways you’ll get out of doing them.

Then, getting up in the morning and doing them…and then again the next day and all the days that follow. That’s what it is.

I guess the tradeoff is that we get to smoke, drink, and watch dirty movies. That’s how they get you. It’s why we get so angry when underage kids try to access those things. For all of our childhood, cigarettes, liquor, and the curtained off areas of video stores were waved in our faces. We all rushed to get there. When we did, it was electric bills and frozen waffles.

So, it goes. Life goes on and we all grow with it. Do the impossible today and then do it again tomorrow. It’s what makes us adults and it doesn’t come with a parade. Although, to be honest, it really should.