The Things I Suddenly Know and Care About as a Grown-Up

On Growing Up: The Things You Suddenly Care About

I thought I knew it all. Then, I grew up, had babies, and found out I'm still learning.


We celebrated New Year's Eve tonight with a few close friends. I could have said this exact same statement for the past 10 years, as we've done the same thing, with the same people, for a decade. At first, we all went out to eat at fancy restaurants. We were recently out of college, all newlyweds, with good-paying jobs and plenty of disposable income, with no one to spend it on besides ourselves.

We'd sit and talk for hours at dimly lit tables near the back of our favorite three steakhouses, chatting about everything and nothing all at once. We'd talk without fear of interruption and without keeping a close eye on the clock. Then, we'd head back to someone's townhome to pull out the champagne and toast to another year together.

Tonight was much like all of those other nights. We caught up, laughed and toasted. Only this time, we toasted at 7:00 in the evening rather than at midnight. We had dinner together, but it was pizza in our living room, surrounding by no less than six babies and toddlers alike. We navigated around toys, dolls, books and Legos to find a place to sit and our conversation, despite how we tried to steer it otherwise, inevitably landed on our child-rearing days. How do you get them to listen to you? Is she ready for preschool? How is potty training going for you guys? We compared notes, listened to hilarious anecdotes about life with tots, shared worries and told each other that we're all going to be just fine.

They left with a little sliver of the sunset still up and I was reminded that though there are many times when I still feel like that newlywed in her early twenties that I once was, I'm very much an adult now and suddenly, the things I care about look so much different. For instance, I spent 15 minutes yesterday comparing types of almond milk because since having my second, I haven't been able to tolerate dairy. I got legitimately excited about the 500-thread count sheets and pillow-top mattress cover that my mother-in-law gifted us for Christmas this year.

I care more about this week's cartoon lineup than my own shows because I know my three-year-old will want to watch the newest episode of Mickey Mouse after lunch on Wednesday. I can tell you all of the characters to every book they love. I know about things like which detergents are best for newborn onesies, what shampoos make their eyes sting even though they say tear-free, how to get pen marks out of a microfiber couch and which flavors of Gatorade will leave a mark on the rug and which won't.

I didn't sign up to learn these things. These are just the kinds of things you find yourself thinking about when you have a two-year old and a four-year-old living with you. While those points are trivial, they've also had me considering more deeply the really important parts of life. What do I want to do with my days, and who do I want to do it with? Do I look at a screen too much and if so, how can I better focus my attention toward them? Is public school enough or should I consider homeschooling or a private school education? Do we live too close to the road or should we move to that family property that sits back in the woods? If we choose the latter, do we leave it as is, or install things like a paved driveway or solar panels to make it more long-lasting and kid-friendly?

I don't pretend to know all of the answers, and I think that's the beauty of it. It's also ironic. When you become an adult, and especially once you have kids, the things you thought you cared about suddenly seem small and your prior concerns are replaced with much bigger ones that leave you awake at night wondering if you'll ever really feel confident that you got it right. At the same time, the journey is the revelation. As we seek to better understand, to learn it all and to be the best we can, that's where the real growth takes place.

I'm excited that I get to experience that alongside these little people who call me "mama." I'm glad that my days don't look like they used to and my nights are certainly different, too. Growing up is hard and there are many times I think I'm likely doing it incorrectly, but if tonight was any indication, I'm not in this boat alone. We all have our doubts, our insecurities and our inadequacies. We're all wondering, both aloud and to ourselves, if the way we're going is the right way. When we share that with one another, there's solidarity. There's the comfort that says, "I see you, and I'm here for you. Let's tackle this together."

So maybe I think too much about things I shouldn't or I know too much about things that won't matter five years from now. Today, however? I'm well-versed in adulthood and parenthood and there's nothing else I'd rather be learning.

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Deadlines Are Not Important

The Deadlines Of Life Do Not Mean As Much As You Think


Deadlines are not important; the deadlines for work, school, and things related to that, those are important. Life's deadlines are not important. Society tells us that we must be married, have the perfect job, and have children by a certain age. A lot of the times we end up believing that if we do not do certain things by a certain time, we have failed or we are not doing as good as everyone else. The truth is, society's and life's deadlines are crap. There is no specific time to be married by, no specific time to have your perfect job by, and no specific time to have children by. These things should not be accomplished until you are ready and capable to accomplish them; this means that if you are not 50 until you have your perfect job, you are not 30 until you are married and you are not 40 until you have children, that is okay. There is nothing wrong with waiting, experiencing life, growing in who you are, and doing what you need to do first. A lot of people do not have their perfect job until later in life because if we are all honest here, that is one of the hardest things to figure out and hardest decisions to make. People stress so much because they have not met these certain deadlines of life that they have been told their entire lives they need to meet by a certain time. So often, the important things like a job, a marriage, and children are rushed and people end up miserable. There is no sense in rushing if you are not ready for it yet. When it comes to finding the perfect job for you, look around, find your interests, and figure out what you can spend years of your life doing; take your time and be patient. When it comes to marriage and having children, do not rush it, it is one of the worst things to rush; do it in the time frame you want to and make sure it is what you want. Take a deep breathe and stop freaking out; you have plenty of time. Instead of going by society's and life's deadlines, go by your own and base that off of your capabilities and your wants.


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The Beauty of Releasing Anxiety Over the Future

What you learn when you learn you don't need to know it all


I come from a long line of women who worry. We stay up late at night wondering if we got it all right that day. We stress over the details and sweat the small stuff more than we should. Surprisingly, for the amount they fret, my sister and mother are the epitome of calm. They're collected and graceful, whereas I'm a constant bundle of nerves wound tighter than a brand-new yo-yo.

This year, however, I resolved to change all of that. I determined that 2019 would be the year I released all the anxiety and fears around the future. It would be the year I stopped concerning myself with matters of tomorrow and focused instead on the beauty and blessing of today. We're only six days into this new year, but I have already felt that gigantic weight lifted. Why, you might ask, did I choose this particular year? I will turn 32 this April and I've had plenty of turns around the sun to think about getting it right. I've had time to relax, time to recharge and time to start anew.

So, why this year? Put simply, I can tell this is going to be one unlike any other. We're moving out of our home in the next few months, in preparation to begin an enormous remodel project on a nearby family home. As we do so, we're going to be living with my in-laws, our oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, and we're both planning to ramp up our careers by taking on new challenges.

In short, I could easily approach these new obstacles with a jittery heart and nerves that are shot before the day even begins. Yet, each day has its own struggles and if I were to look at this year as a whole, I'd be overwhelmed by the extent of it all. Between school, sports, work and this project, there is no shortage of concerns to worry over, issues to fret about and worries to wonder on. It is for this very reason that I'm stepping out on faith and giving the headaches over, relinquishing the lock-tight control I once held over my own day-to-day chaos.

The thing is, I can see where it's all going. I can already see our dream home that will sit on the lot behind the cornfield. There are two creeks on the property, a sod field in the back, and Japanese cherry blossom trees that I can't wait to watch come alive this spring. I have dreams of eating popsicles on the back deck while the sun goes down in the summertime and I can see the kids running in the huge, open front yard, the one that takes us 10 minutes or more to walk up and down the driveway. I can see the measures we are taking to make the home as energy-efficient as possible paying off with lower power bills. I know the garden we plant in two years will be our biggest and best yet.

I know this will be the home my children remember growing up in. We'll take prom pictures here and first dates will end on the front stoop. Still, the process of getting there, of going home, is a long and laborious one and I could easily crawl under the covers and seek to escape from it all if I think about it for too long.

Instead, I'm getting up early in the mornings these days. I'm having quiet time to reflect and recharge my faith. I'm reading more text and devouring fewer screens. I'm taking more walks (another resolution) and spending at least a little bit of time in nature every day. I'm looking my children in the eye when they speak to me rather than rushing by them on my way to the next, more important thing. I'm making a gratitude list at the end of every day with five things that blessed and inspired me. I'm going to bed earlier and sleeping more deeply, my heart fuller than it's ever been.

I'm releasing my ambition to plan every day to a tee. I'm letting life happen and enjoying the ride of letting go.

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