I thought I would have a handle on it by now.
Before marriage: I had been living on my own for 3 1/2 years off hot pockets, random date nights, and working 4 jobs simultaneously. I could sort of bake cookies and make salads. But sometimes I would chop up the wooden spoon in the electric mixer. Or almost chop my finger clean off while cutting tomatoes. I didn’t clean often. I wasn’t a homemaker yet. I was sort of a mess. But I worked and schooled.
For the longest time in early marriage, I thought that being a grown up meant cooking nightly, doing dishes, doing laundry, paying bills and staying on top of the budget. I thought I had to automatically transition to 60’s housewife.
I hated myself, because as newlyweds we ate out almost nightly, we had days where the dishes were so piled up we would shove them in the oven when company came over. Sometimes we forgot we did this and turned on the oven.🙈 Laundry? Ugh. Bills did get paid, and some savings happened. But I’m pretty sure we ate much of our budget at Applebee’s and Little Caesars. Barf. So then I would feel guilty about the eating out, go to the grocery store and overbuy groceries that would spoil.
Looking back, I can’t believe how hard I was on myself. I had achieved so much, but I was trying to transition immediately from one person to another.
I worked full time until I became a mommy. When that happened, I was so lucky to stay at home! We were poor, and it was a simple time of life. I didn’t go anywhere much because I didn’t want to spend money, and I didn’t want our baby to get germs! I started cooking and cleaning more. I started bookmarking craft projects (never had been a crafter) and made cookies.
We couldn’t stay in the 700 square feet forever, though, and moved. Our very own, new-to-us home and mortgage necessitated me working a few hours a week. My paycheck paid half the house payment. Our girl had a parent at home 100% of the time. I should’ve been proud.
But instead, I worried about money, I wanted to do fun things occasionally. Our house was sort of a money pit. We had medical bills to pay. I had soul crushing fatigue from depression and insomnia many days, so it was hard to clean and cook. I thought I would never figure it out because I just wasn’t a grown up yet, in my definition.
Some days I would feverishly clean and cook and move until I was sore. And I would overdo it so much that I never wanted to be domestic again.
So now, I can look back and look at now. Yes, I have piles of laundry. Yes, I have cleaning I want to do. Yes, I feel overwhelmed with money sometimes. Of course I can be a better mom and wife. But I can’t hate myself for not being it all at once.
Early in our marriage, I was a scholar and working. I needed things simple. When we had two full time paychecks, we relaxed more because we could. We went to concerts all the time. I never slept, so it was nice to eat out and have lots of date nights, and not have to clean up but be able to come home and do whatever we felt like.
As a new mom, my roles naturally changed. Did we still eat out sometimes? Absolutely! Did I still get stinky laundry from forgetting it in the wash? Of course! Did I start fires occasionally in the kitchen while cooking? Maybe?! But I was able to be more domestic, and teach myself new grown-up tricks, and that was fun!
However I’m still hard on myself. I almost bully myself!! Today, as I wrote this, I stopped in my tracks. I never felt grown up because I was using someone else’s definition of being a grown up woman as my own. I was comparing myself to women I am not. I am not a clean freak though I would love to be. I’m not a master decorator. I am a terrible sleeper! I am not a demure wife who usually stays quiet when I want to be vocal (that would be helpful sometimes but I’m not)! So why am I holding up that as a standard? What is my definition? What is a grown up really?
If it’s moving out and putting yourself through college, I was a grown up starting at 17.
If it’s raising a child by, you know, parenting them, I think I’m doing that.
If it’s taking the things you struggle being amazing at, and slowly chiseling away at them, and giving yourself balance, or at least trying, then I think that is being a grown up.
I think I might actually be there.