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One of the most common misconceptions in our somewhat screwed up society, is that there is a magic number that makes someone an adult. Even more absurd than that, is the notion that certain life changing events makes one an adult. Getting married, having children, being of legal age to consume alcohol…none of these constitutes adulthood. At least, not in my book.
I did a lot of thinking when I got this writing prompt in my email. I thought about sharing the story of how I found out I was pregnant…but then I realized that thanks to shows like Teen Mom and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, becoming a parent does not necessarily warrant the title of adult. Then I thought about my wedding day. However,considering that I know far too many “children” who feel the need to go and swap vows with someone because they are ‘in love’ only to end up divorced six months later; I figured that idea wouldn’t really fit either. And the more I thought about those two life-changing events in my own life, the more I realized that I was an adult way before I ever became a Mrs. or a mommy.
I think I entered the realm of adult hood a few months shy of my 17 birthday. While I had had to deal with adult circumstances many, many years before then, it wasn’t until that pivotal summer before my Senior Year of High School that adulthood was thrust upon me.
My mother’s mother passed away from an unsuspecting and unlikely stroke in May of 2004. Less than two weeks later, my father’s mother died as well. It was…a dark time, to say the least. My mother, who had battled depression when I was a child, was not very successful in overcoming her grief. My dad, who has always worked long hours [but still managed to come to almost every pageant and every sporting event I participated in], lost himself in his work to to overcome the sadness he felt.
And that left me to take care of my sister, who was 11 at the time [at least, I think she was 11…hmmm]. I remember days where my mother was so depressed and so grief stricken that we wouldn’t even see her. She’s stay in her room and we could hear her cries coming from the under the door. Those were the bad days…and they lasted for months and months. Those were the kind of days where I would come home, make sure that my homework was done, my sisters homework was done, and that the house and laundry were clean.
It was hard. There were times when I would have to go into town to pay bills; there were days that my dad would be gone before we got up for school, and not home until after most of us were asleep. But, I never complained (at least not out loud…I was afraid I’d cause more pain). So I kept my mouth shut and did what I thought was best. I took care of my family. I took care of my sister. I opted out of a few Senior Year Extracurricular activities to stay home and tend to things that most people my age didn’t have to deal with.
I think that’s why I never partied much in High School. I was too busy being an adult. The drinking games, the late nights spent by bonfires, just weren’t for me. So I passed.
I was an adult before I was 18. And I credit those months and months of hardship and grief to my personality now. I thrive in the face of pressure. I can handle more than a lot of people can dream of. I don’t crumble when the walls around me cave in. I give 50% of that credit the circumstances in life that forced me to grow up, and the other 50% to the man that I married…the man who is my strength and my backbone…my supporter and my encourager. And in all things I acknowledge that I can’t do anything without God by my side.
Was there a certain situation that made you realize you were an adult? Was a big life milestone or did you just sort of stumble into it the way that I did?