It's a question I've been asking myself too much lately. I cling to most things juvenile. I still like kiddie cartoons, I love Disney movies, I'm always up for a good Happy Meal, and I don't take myself too seriously. And fortunately I have found a life-long mate who not only supports my kid-like behaviors, he encourages them. But lately, things are getting a little too serious around our household and we don't care for the stress it's causing us.
We were doing great for so many years. Even having a kid of our own didn't really phase our attempts to stay young at heart. Sure there's extra responsibilities with a baby, but they're so much fun! And as you all know Chaselyn is an excellent baby. Not just because she's mine, but because she actually is one of the most easy-going little precious beings you've ever seen. And besides, you hear all the time about babies having babies. That was not the huge stepping stone to maturity that we feared it would be. I think the changes really started taking effect after Chaselyn was born. So, I've compiled a list of things that will make you feel more grown up. If you don't want to, steer clear of these things.
1) Buying a house - Sounds innocent enough. Buy a good house, move all your junk you had hidden in all the nooks and crannies of your apartment into 3 times the space, live happily ever after. Unfortunately, things start to nag you. Things that you never considered before in the apartment setting, because it either wasn't your responsibility to take care of or it wasn't worth the effort to change since apartments are only temporary living spaces. Home-ownership makes you want to watch HGTV and see how to fix up your perfectly good house cheap. You spend time thinking about all the things you want to change in the house to make it just right. It starts with ideas like "Someday I would like to redo the kitchen." There's nothing wrong with the kitchen, it's just not exactly your dream kitchen. Stuff like this isn't too hard to repress, because the fact of the matter is, there's just not money to think about a project like that right now. So, what can you do to change things up a bit? Paint is relatively cheap and makes a big difference. But where to start? The living areas seem like the first choice, but that's a huge decision to pick a color for the living space. Maybe a bedroom? Well, one bedroom is currently covered in Razorback memorabilia and the other houses the baby. Plus, within a year, you know that things are going to get mixed up with the next baby. And is there a possibility of a third kid someday? Should you stick with neutral colors on the walls so that the rooms can be switched out as a boys room or a girls room? And speaking of which, where are these kids going to sleep? OK, no painting for now. The cycle (at least for me) continues with urges to change something, but indecision as to how to make it happen. Oh, and did I mention that there's the constant bother of the stuff in the closet and still for us, the stuff in the garage. The stuff didn't bother me too much in the apartment. We put it where ever it could fit. But now, it seems like it needs a specific place or if there's nowhere for it to go, it needs to go out. I can't stand to throw things out though. I don't think I'm so much of a hoarder as cheap. What if we need that box full of stuff later, even though we haven't missed it since moving in last July? Then I would have to BUY that stuff again. What a waste of money! Note that I haven't even started on the general upkeep of a house. This is one area that has been greatly changed by Chaselyn's arrival, but even without her stuff, there's still plenty of new chores. There's the newness of caring for a yard, and you have to walk farther to do laundry, and carpets and floors are now actually in your possession, meaning that if there's a stain, you are responsible for it. OK, that's enough of a rant on that.
2) Graduating - Yes, it's the culmination of all those years of hard work studying and writing and learning. Congratulations! Now, they want you to work an 8-5 job, M-F, without extended holidays or a 3 month vacation. Perhaps they'll entice you with promises of some business travel - turns out that usually that's exactly all you get to do- travel, do some business, travel back. And you may think "Hey, I put in a lot of work to get that nice graduate degree. I'll earn more money, I'll be well respected, and I can finally take a breather from all these late nights thinking and studying." The part about the money is probably true, the second part, should be true, the third part is just an out and out lie. It turns out that your hard work has earned you the right and privilege to be thought of on a higher tier. That's nice for the ego. Unfortunately, by getting the education and persevering, you just proved that you could handle whatever they want to throw at you. The more you succeed, the more people expect you to succeed. It's logical, but I was caught off guard and was in for a rude awakening. That's how the real world works apparently. If you do a good job at something, you get to be excited about that accomplishment for about 5.3 seconds and then you have to get on to the next task. Also, the real world doesn't seem to have as many hard deadlines as before. You have to rely on your own motivation and satisfaction in your work to keep you on task. Either that or you have deadlines that are totally unrealistic and only serve to frustrate you. I spent a good long 8 years in college. I had some rough times, but it was overall a good experience for me. I went to class, I did my homework, I took exams. I did what I had been taught to do from the age of 5. I must toot my own horn and say I'm an excellent student. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that the rest of the world really needs a professional student. So, in the words of the great Billy Madison, "Stay here as long as you can!"
3) Aging - So, you can't actually do anything about this one, but you can be aware of it and try to ease in to the more mature you. As I spent that time in college, I was obviously a college student. I was comfortable with it. And as I taught intro classes each semester, I recognized that the age gap between me and my students was getting a little larger. But that was ok. It was the headgames of the people that were actually closer to my age that threw me. In my brain, people who had real jobs and houses and kids were older than me, my students were younger. It turns out that some people get jobs and buy houses and have kids much earlier than my life plan called for. This summer will be my 10 year high school reunion. Do you realize that some people will have children that could be up to like 9 years old that you didn't even know existed. A 9 year old child and they're the same age as me?! That's crazy. As far as I know, most of the people I was close with in high school are just beginning to start their families and such too, but there are those who heard the call to be mommies and daddies much earlier. It's mind boggling. And some people will have had major career changes by the 10 year reunion. I haven't even had a single career, much less one to change to. And besides all those people you haven't seen in 10 years, be sure you're keeping tabs on those closest to you. Somehow, my sister fast-forwarded her life and is in college now. College? Rachel is not that old is she? And my oldest brother just celebrated his 34 birthday. That's like mid-30's territory. He's can't be that old. And my other brother is getting married this summer. They just bought a house and he has a job and she does too. What's happening? And my parents are grandparents. I know I'm part of the problem there, but really, are they old enough? They don't seem older than they did before, but they're transitioning into playing the grandparent roles in the family dynamic as opposed to the mom & dad roles. I just don't know what to do.
4) Making plans - Whether it's what you need to get done this week or where your life is going to be in 5 years, just don't do it. From my experience it just blows up in your face. Fortunately, most of the time the change in plans results in something way better than ever expected, but you still have the frustration of learning to let go of the path you set. So, maybe you can plan meals for the week. But don't be surprised if something comes up and the meat you bought spoils in the bottom drawer. Or maybe you've carefully planned a budget and committed to following it to the dime. Just be sure you leave a little dough in a section labelled "Well I never would have seen that coming." And if you've planned something for more than 1 year out, I'll try not to laugh.
These are just a few of the things I'm learning these days. I'm not real sure if they'll help you or if they even apply to you, but at least maybe, just maybe, I can more easily recognize these stressors in my life. Hopefully, that leads to a more productive and happy Brandi.
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