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By Terri Lee

PROMPT—Despite ...

Despite…47 years in this world, two children, and four house purchases later, I still don’t feel like I know what it means to be an adult.

Will I wake up when I’m 50 and feel like I’ve mastered adulting?

What does adulting feel like?

True, I haven’t had 20 or even 10 years in the same job. I’ve moved around. Five cities in 20 years. But I lived in one for 10 years and another for seven. Isn’t that very adult of me?

Okay, I’ll admit. I lived a wanderlust life for nearly 40 years. And yes, I chose to have my kids when I was older. You might say 42 and 45 are old. But somehow I don’t feel old.

I see the wrinkles, age spots and I feel the fatigue. But there were imperfections with my looks and energy when I was in my 20’s and 30’s too. The complaints are familiar. And sure I’m gray. When I finally grew out all the color, it reminded me of the purple and red highlights I used to pay to add to my hair. Now it’s my natural highlights. How lucky! They won’t fade and they’re FREE!

Maybe you look at me and think I seem old. But deep down inside, I don’t feel it. Will I? When will I start feeling like I’m reaching that peak? The peak that says I’m past the half way point and I should start winding down.

I thought kids would make me feel like I’ve mastered adulting. But they have shown me that jumping still feels fun. Eating ice cream with sprinkles is STILL a treat and every once in a while staying up too late to read books under the covers IS cozy.

Oh, and playing with kinetic sand? Easy bake ovens? Paint? It’s the best. And dancing to loud music feels FANTASTIC! It can transform your mood.

But the music stops and as I clean up the mess, I realize. Oh right. I have to call a plumber about the leak and I should get back to work if we want to buy more Easy bake oven mixes. And I need to teach you, my children, how to be an adult.

How can I teach you what it means to be an adult if I am still trying to figure it out myself? What comes first? Money? Future planning? Or is it building independence, confidence, and empathy for your community? Should I teach you to be more serious than I am? More calculated and less whimsical? Do I want you to be an adult that won’t jump in muddy puddles?!

I love that my 79-year-old mom is willing to draw with markers on her hands and feet with my 2-year-old. I love that she will run through the rain and get soaked to play with my 5-year-old. And I don’t want to lose the thrill of whipped cream with sprinkles so high it touches my nose. But somehow it seems like all of this means I am not yet adulting.

As I approach my 48th birthday, I keep wondering. When do I start feeling like an adult? You know. The kind who masters life and finances? When will I become an adult?


Terri Lee once again relocated from Boston to Rochester, NY with her two young children. She is a self-employed design consultant who is rediscovering her voice and love of writing after a long hiatus.


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