I’m hearing the word adulting all the time lately. We’ve somehow turned “adult” into a verb, it seems. Like other trendy words (literally, random, totally) it will have its moment in our modern lexicon and then fade. It’s starting to wear on me a bit, and it’s mildly annoying to hear my students using it all the time. But I see the value in having a word that captures the essence of all those practical, not-fun tasks we have to check off the list.
I’m writing this as I recover from periodontal surgery. Which was every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. But it was necessary, and though I could have perhaps put it off one more year, I decided I might as well bite the bullet and do it. Fork over the $700 (gulp) that I would much rather spend on something else or save. But sometimes life demands that you put on your big girl panties, as some people say, and tackle the unpleasant mess in front of you.
I have done a lot of that this year. Countless unpleasant tasks: meeting with attorneys, paying said attorney, selling a house and dealing with the hassle of showing it with 2 little kids and a full-time job, buying another house, changing my name on a million legal documents, trading in a car, dealing with insurance hassle when an inattentive driver hit the car I bought only 9 months earlier. … The list goes on and on and on and includes managing a thousand tiny details to make my life run smoothly on a daily basis. …. Kids, house, work, all of it…. At the risk of using that trendy word one too many times, I have been doing nothing but adulting for the vast majority of 2015. Frankly, I’m growing weary from it.
One of the biggest lessons of growing up – especially in America in our puritanically based, capitalistic, work harder to do better kind of society – is to learn that you don’t always get a prize. This is life. It can be full of stuff you don’t want to do, and you don’t check a bunch of things off the list and then never have to struggle again. You aren’t doing something wrong if you have difficult tasks in front of you. You don’t somehow arrive at a place where everything is magic and sunshine and roses. Perfection is an unattainable quest. The beauty lies in those tiny seconds in between, and it’s our job to find it among the mess.
I think I like it better here in real life anyway.
We worked with Andrew Thomas Lee again for photos a couple of weeks ago. I’ve known him for years, and I have his images of my growing kids all over my walls. His work has grown a different direction recently, and he doesn’t do family photo sessions any longer. But he was kind enough to meet up with the kids and me at a green space in Atlanta a few days before Thanksgiving and get some images I will cherish for a long time.
The kids were far from cooperative in the traditional sense. It took a lot of coaxing for Norah to get down from my arms, and at one point they ran off to play with someone’s dog on the other side of the park. By the end of the session, Norah’s hair bow was ripped out, and her shoes were off. Andrew is incredibly patient and such a talent though. He always manages to get some really authentic images that convey the real us.
I live with these two kids everyday, and it’s sometimes a blur. But I look at these photos, and I can see it how I feel it in those still moments, those tiny spaces in between the chaos.
So here I am on the 341st day of 2015. My mouth is swollen. I’m a little fuzzy from post-surgery meds. My house is usually messy, and my plate is always too full. But there will never be another December 7, 2015 again.
I am really thankful to see 2015 make its way out as it’s been so full of hard things. But I can’t bring myself to see it as a terrible year. More than any other year in my life, it has been a year when I know I’m really alive. The pain and growth and change – all of it for the better. I see that now.
Jen Pastiloff posted something this morning urging readers to “Take a picture of your face. Remember that in ten years’ time, you will be amazed at how gorgeous you WERE. Be amazed NOW.” This is so true, not just about what we look like, but about all the other details in our lives that seem overwhelmingly difficult in the moment. Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. So just for today, I’m seeing it.
I’m looking past all the challenges to see my beautiful little family – all three of us. To see the life we’ve created this year.
I’m still standing. And the view from here is pretty spectacular. Bring it, 2016. I’m ready.