Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Blue Couch

I wonder if there will ever come a day when I feel like an adult.

Is this something I want?
Is this something I should aspire to?
Is this something that I need to feel?

Being "adult-like" may get a bad rap. I often think of a conservatively-dressed-set-in-their-ways-financially-secure-mother or father-with-a-career-a-church-membership-and-matching-beige-Cadillacs. (A bit dated, eh?) And I can tell you for sure, that's not what I want.

What I really mean when I say "adult" is "put together."
When I say "adult," I mean "confident."
When I say "adult," I mean "stable."
When I say "adult," I mean "feeling-safer-than-I-do-now."

I don't feel like an adult.
I feel like a trapeze artist without a safety net.

I grew up on the pedestal of Childhood. I took the leap and left home. And now I'm swinging around in this mostly unpredictable land of job/home/husband/future and feeling sure that, any moment, I'm going to drop before landing safely on the pedestal of Adulthood. And there won't be anyone there to catch me.

As a kid, I remember looking up at (well, everyone...) "adults": my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, church members, teachers, and thinking, They are adults. They have life figured out.
They owned homes. They bought groceries. They were confident. And wise. And well, adult-like.

A few months ago, I watched home videos of my parents sitting on our family's signature blue couch. I was just home from the hospital and they were holding and baby talkin' me to pieces. And it hit me: In this video, my adult-like, put-together parents are only a few years older than I am now! What?! And in conversations since, I've learned that my parents felt/feel insecure. They've had money struggles. They've argued about foolish things. They've disagreed about how to raise the kids. They've questioned their faith. They've felt fragile.

They are just like me.

I write this blog from that same blue couch where I was held as a baby. This seat was gladly "gifted" to us by my parents seeking newer furniture. This couch has been through a few moves, a few family pets, a few jumping sessions, a few food spills, a few generations of memories and life-experiences. And now the couch is mine: to use and abuse and create memories on. It's mine and it doesn't come with directions, because there are none. There is no right way to do this, we all just figure it out as we go.

Maybe Adulthood is not a trapeze pedestal that we arrive at (eventually) after swinging around recklessly in our youth.

Maybe adulthood is the swinging. An experience that we all take differently. That we all make mistakes at and slip--and yes--even fall. But the safety net isn't our parents or our childhood. The safety net is grace. And humility. And the realization that we're all just doing our balanced best.

And that's always enough.