keeping them fooled
Blundering Through Adulthood
JANE SANDERS ILLUSTRATION
I turned 34 two weeks ago, and mostly, I feel it. I think? I mean I have a full-time office job and a closet that contains a variety of tasteful dresses, tailored blazers and sensible pantsuits. I do weekly volunteer work for the PTA. I worry about my fiber intake. I even floss on a daily basis.
But there are just so many moments in each day when I cannot actually believe that I’m attempting to pass as a real grown-up – like the other night, when I was nervously fidgeting – a habit I keep meaning to grow out of – and in the course of doing so actually flung my wedding ring across my daughter’s second grade classroom in the middle of a parent-teacher conference. Or when I realize that not only am I in public wearing the faded and stained “I Heart Grammar” hoodie that I’ve had since college – but also absentmindedly chewing on the hood strings. Or when I look in the mirror and realize that A) I still haven’t learned how to effectively apply eyeliner and B) I’m still getting pimples. (Also, Ruby is going to be 8 in December, and I still sometimes look at myself in the mirror and think, “Shit, I’m someone’s mother. I am someone’s mother.”)
When I was maybe 16 or 17, starting to realize that I was about to be on my own, and like all teenagers, simultaneously thrilled and terrified at this prospect, I would sometimes get into an anxiety spiral, as I’m wont to do, about all the things I didn’t yet understand: mortgages, 401(k) plans, dinner reservations. Eventually, I would sigh and tell myself, with the arrogance of adolescence: “Eh, it’ll be OK. There are a lot of really stupid people in the world, and if they can figure this stuff out I can, too.
The world is mostly idiot-proof, right?”
And honestly? That has been more or less true. I am certainly not the smartest person on the planet, but I’ve bought three houses and sold two, I make biweekly contributions to my 401(k), and I married someone who is really great at making dinner reservations – but I know my way around OpenTable in a pinch. All of that stuff worked out.
It is the things that are specific to me and my own personality quirks that I’m still struggling to master, like keeping my desk organized, parallel parking, putting clean laundry away instead of letting it sit in baskets and pulling it out as needed. I guess everyone has their own issues – this is why we have New Year’s resolutions – but half my lifetime ago, at age 17, I expected I would have things a little more together by now. Join the club, right?
Ultimately, though, I have my kids, which was really the biggest goal I had set for myself, and even if I still haven’t learned how to French braid their hair (despite several YouTube tutorials), they seem to think I’m doing a decent job. I hope I always keep them fooled.
Excerpted from Eve Crawford Peyton’s blog, Joie d’Eve, which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com.