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 am 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 have had since college – but also absentmindedly chewing on the hood strings. Or when I look in the mirror and realize that A. I still have not learned how to effectively apply eyeliner and B. I am 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 am 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 am 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’s been more or less true. I am certainly not the smartest person on the planet, but I have 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’s the things that are specific to me and my own personality quirks that I am 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.