I was recently filing out papers that necessitated practical information, like my address and marital status, as well as the address and marital status of the father of my child. Despite being legally divorced for well over two years, there are moments when it hits me that I am no longer married, a legal single being, a team leader with no co-captain. During those moments I find myself looking around as if in a dream, wondering if someone is playing a joke on me. I often imagine that I am filling out an insurance or application MadLib and the answers are a mockery of my real life. What really troubles me, however, is at those moments I am jolted into adulthood. I am 50. I am divorced. I am a single parent. However, clearly entrenched in middle age and genealogical adulthood, I still feel like a kid.
It’s more than watching my daughter go off to college, or turning the car keys over to her younger sibling, or seeing my son surpass me in height – all rights of passage of the teen years that I am reliving on a daily basis. It’s the moments of being half asleep in the morning feeling that the world is your oyster until your brain fully – or at least partially – engages and you realize that you have to get your children ready for school and go to work and service the car and pay the mortgage. When did I cease to be the child and become the grown-up authority figure? Wasn’t there supposed to be an “Ah-ha” moment that changed it all? I must have missed it, because I’m still in awe that a bank will actually consider me a viable candidate for a mortgage, and that the insurance company believes that I’m a good risk for auto and life insurance.
I somehow expected that when I finally reached the point designated as mid life I would be established and settled – in my ways (?) or in my emotional and financial security (?) or as a bastion of assuredness and knowledge for my children and those around me (?). But none of that really seems to fit. I certainly have habits that I cling to, but the rest of time I feel like I’m faking it as an adult until I can actually make it as an adult. Some days I wonder if I’m really just playing house or dress up, and that my mother is going to call me to dinner before too long.
During lunch last week with a friend that I hadn’t seen since graduating from college, our conversation started with memories of youth and shared experiences in the classroom. It then found its way to work and the economy, and meandered to a point where we both exclaimed that we sounded like our parents. As we departed, we laughed and said, “…well, let’s do this again before another 25 years pass…” I realized this morning that if we do let time slip by, we’ll be 75 at our next lunch date.
Surely at that age we’ll feel like adults and not kids anymore…?