Thorny Knits

I've got a husband, twin toddlers, a cat who I probably forgot to feed this morning, and never, ever enough time to knit.

3.08.2006

Goin' Deep

So, this isn't so knitting-ish. Mostly it's a musing, and so for those of my four readers (I'm like the Conan O'Brien of blogging, only it's not irony - oh well) who don't want to know about anything non-yarn-related, feel free to catch me again in a coupla days. I promise I'll talk knitting then.

I think I'm finally going to have to really grasp, really embrace the fact that I've grown up. That I am, in fact, A Grown-up.

It's weird. I'm 32 years old, I'm a mother, I've been married for seven years to a man I've been with for a total of 12 years now. My best friends are people I've known for two whoppin'-great decades. So you would think I'd come to terms with this by now. That somehow, in 32 years, I'd have figured out that I was actually an adult.

But I really haven't.

I remember several (several!) years ago I caught this thing on C-span, of all channels. Michael Medved, who I'd previously only known as a film critic, was talking about how the rampant consumerism of our culture was sustained by an artificial extension of adolescence. That adolescence, by virtue of a whole bunch of factors, is that time in a person's life when they have the most disposable income as well as a large amount of self-determination combined with low responsibility. Add in that most adolescents are struggling to figure out who they are and who they want to be, plus feel a strong need to express themselves and be recognized for who they are (this week), and you get an advertiser's wet dream. And so, in order to keep expanding their customer base, advertisers and corporations keep trying to widen the range of "adolescence". Which is why you now find nail polish marketed to grade-schoolers in teddy bear-shaped bottles at the same time that auto makers are marketing minivans to the tune of "Teenage Wasteland" and trying to convince the Baby Boomers that they aren't too old to have Sugar Smacks for breakfast every morning. (Okay, these are all old examples, but you get the point I hope, because I haven't paid much attention to ads the past few years now.)

Anyway, that concept has stuck with me ever since. That idea that childhood and adulthood have gotten really mixed up into this uncomfortable mishmash and left a lot of us really confused as to what the hell is expected of us, what the correct path is in our lives... it resonated somehow.

Not surprising, I suppose. My folks used to joke that I was "8 going on 40" when I was a kid. At the time it was a big joke and I secretly took a bit of pride in being "so mature". Now I look back and see there's nothing funny about a 9-year-old giving herself stomach ulcers.

Which is the shortest way I can think of to say that from very early on, there were a lot of situations where I felt like the adult in my family. And while in some ways (okay, a lot of ways) it sucked, it has given me the ability to avoid making a lot of mistakes in my life.

The thing, though, is that I wasn't mature in every arena. And my folks, not always being good at the whole "adulthood" thing themselves, weren't able to teach me much about the things I really was going to need once I was out on my own. Which is why I still find myself having to devise ways to "outsmart" myself if I want to stand any chance of making it from one paycheck to the next without writing a bad check (O Debit Card, how I love thee!). It's why my house is pretty much always a wreck. It's why I get all stupid about things sometimes.

But the past week or so, I've had a couple weird things happen that have made me go, "oh, uh... I guess I'm really not a kid anymore."

The first is I was dinking around the blogosphere, and I happened to notice that a lot of the cool-kid knit-bloggers out there are people who I'd thought were, well, a lot older than me... they aren't. There's maybe a handful who are five to eight years older than me, but most are actually just about my age, give or take a couple years. Which kind of gave me some pause while I realized that no, my peers are no longer primarily working Joe jobs until their "real career" takes off or until they figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Most of them are, if not what they wanted to be when they grew up, in jobs which they're pretty enthusiastic about.

The second thing was that a couple friends of mine are facing real serious marital troubles, to the point where there may well be two more of my friends facing divorce. Which, I have to admit, really has me thrown. Not just because these are people who I care a lot about and I simply ache for them in their pain, but also, in a petty, selfish way because I'm flabbergasted. I mean, divorce is something that happens to my parents' friends, not mine, right? My friends are all still dating and just getting married and being bright happy newlyweds, right? Right? .... Not so much.

It seems I've misplaced the past two years. Not surprising, I suppose, seeing as how the kids are approaching their second birthday in a couple months, and well... what the heck have I done in the past two years except be a parent and become a knitter? Really, nothing. And, at the same time, everything.

Except, of course, become A Grown-up.

I dunno. I mean, when did y'all "know" you were a grown-up? Do you feel like A Grown-up most of the time?

It's all so confusing and seems so impenetrable sometimes.

But it's gotta happen. I mean, somebody's got to be the Grown-up around here, and I'm not going to follow my folks' example and make the kids do it, so... time to grow up, Thorny. Now just to figure out how to DO that.....

6 Comments:

  • At Wed Mar 08, 07:37:00 AM CST, Blogger FemiKnitMafia said…

    Oh Thorny, I'm SOOOO with you on this one. I'm 31 and have 'lost' the last couple years of my life in the same parenting phase as you -- infant and toddler. Not to be all uber-politico, but I'd be willing to bet that
    1. those people who seem to have it all together actually don't, and
    2. if they do (which happens far too often for my sanity), they had parents who molded them into confident middle class adults, complete with paying for college, paying their car insurance through their 20s, helping with a downpayment for a house, telling them they're beautiful and smart and accomplished, etcetcetc...
    Not that I'm bitter or anything ... well ... ok ... sometimes. But those people are either projecting the most perfect version of their reality onto the blogosphere, or have all the social and economic supports to ensure that they flourish. Just sayin'.
    I'm sure you have LOTS to be proud of -- starting with a 12 year relationship. Whoah. From where I sit, that's huge!
    And yes, we're growing up. Shit. Hooray? Shit? Hooray! [shrug]

     
  • At Wed Mar 08, 07:38:00 AM CST, Anonymous mamacate said…

    When I was 19, I dated a guy who was 31. When we first started seeing each other, he invited me to what Bridget Jones would call a "mini-break," a weekend at a B&B in Vermont. It just seemed insanely grown-up. At the time I lived in a house with a lot of people in their late 20's and early 30's (some of whom sold pot for a living, so it wasn't exactly maturity central, but I digress). I was talking to my housemate's girlfriend about this and was saying "oh my god, I'm going to have to act like a grownup!" And she looked at me and said, "hon, that's what everybody does. Nobody really feels like a grownup, they just get better at pretending."

    Those words from that hippie chick way back in the day changed the way I looked at the world. I think the vast majority of us are "pretending" to be grownups.

    I'm four years older than you, and I've been a mom those four years, and I do feel like I'm in a slightly different place, but it's still a shock. I'm dealing with the ways my body is no longer doing my bidding, and I'm not liking it. Infertility was a big coming to terms with that, and in a way the IF process made me feel like a total grownup, way before my time. I'm also realizing that I am just *acting* like a grownup, but we still have our moments when we realize that in this stage of our lives, we should no longer be decorating house with milk crates; I don't get carded to buy beer, stuff like that.

    I thought all the other knitbloggers were older than I was too, though I realized that was a little delusional when I thought about it for a minute. I also thought they were all more confident and together. But no, just people, just like everbody.

    If anything represents maturity to me, it's that realization: we're all just sort of stumbling through this life thing, doing our best, and trying to figure out what's right for us. As I get older I see the humanity and complexity in people I would have previously seen simply as more powerful, cooler, or smarter than me.

    I think that might be a gift inherent in growing up, which is good becasue the weight gain is a bitch.

    It's all good. And I think most twin moms lose 2-3 years of their lives. I still haven't totally figured out that it's not 2002 anymore.

     
  • At Wed Mar 08, 08:17:00 AM CST, Blogger Scoutj said…

    I know I come off as MUCH older don't I? ;)

    This you for this post today. I was reading it at 4:30 this morning when I couldn't sleep worrying about ADULT crap. *sigh*

     
  • At Wed Mar 08, 09:59:00 AM CST, Blogger strangelittlemama said…

    I can so relate to all of this. I have been having an existential crisis in one form or another since I hit 30, and I'm not 35. and a half, but we won't go there.
    I was also a "mini-adult" as a child and you know what? It fucked me right up! My late teens and early 20s were all about reverting to a childhood I never really felt I had, and it came out in very self-destructive ways.
    Now, at 35, I don't get being an adult! It's very confusing and I almost always feel like I am around people much older than I, when I am really with peers. I work a job that I consider temporary and certainly NOT what I had ever envisioned for myself, but I also don't really know what I'll do when I "grow up".
    I think this feeling will linger in some way forever, and I do think the theory of an extended adolescence feeding consumerism makes sense. Our culture places extreme value on youth and beauty, and guess what? At 35, I buy zit cream AND wrinkle cream, and I find myself shopping in the "juniors" department more than I care to admit.
    You've definitely given me something to ponder today.

     
  • At Wed Mar 08, 06:56:00 PM CST, Anonymous melanie said…

    That mamacate, she's so great at putting things into words, no? You are too, btw. I agree with mamacate in that I think we're all just pretending, for the most part. Stumbling along doing the best we can.

    I think I've always been pretty mature, maturity really being defined as responsible. But now I'm feeling like I'm about to be adult with the upcoming birth of my twins...now that I won't have that disposable income and that job I always viewed as temporary will most likely become a permanent path (even though I'm not too happy with it). With the twins coming, we have to do things like get life insurance and write wills. It makes no sense really, but I guess I have this vision of settling down and having kids as adulthood. Eew. I can't believe I actually wrote that. I need to work on that one, cuz it's just wrong now that I think about it.

    Anyway, thank you for a thoughtful post, it really got my mind ticking.

     
  • At Sun Mar 12, 02:14:00 AM CST, Anonymous Michelle said…

    I do know what that's like. For me, I felt like an adult afterI had kids. Now that the divorce is almost final, though, I'm really confused about that whole "grown-up" thing again. On the one hand, I feel utterly old. On the other... well, hot damn, I can go out! Adults don't get to go have fun, do they? Adults don't end up single after they've been married, right? It's very odd.

     

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