So…we did it. After blogging here on my hesitations about the ‘burbs, after swearing up and down that this wouldn’t be us and flapping our gums at anyone who would listen–after pooh-poohing the pool club memberships and the landscapers and the minivans, we took the plunge and made an offer on a house a mere 20 minutes from where I grew up. Gah!
We twitched our way from accepted offer to signing a contract and wrote a check bigger than any check we’ve ever written. And perhaps most remarkable, we felt ourselves begin to get excited. We started fantasizing over peanut butter and jelly about the elaborate dinner parties we would cook in our big fancy kitchen and host on our new deck. We envisioned Avi and Maya and Pretzel (the dog) scampering around in the big old yard out back. We filled our days with what-ifs, both good and bad. We started planning for our move.
And then, just as quickly as it happened, it went away. The particulars don’t matter, except to say that it was disappointing and we learned many hard-knock-life real estate lessons. This process isn’t much fun, and apparently lots of people want to live in the suburbs with a landscaper and a minivan, so much so that they are willing to steal our house right out from under our noses!
Friends and various professionals advised that we were misled. Maybe. But I, for one, tend to assume that people mean what they say. Honestly, I’m terribly naïve.
And so, this experience has once again highlighted a cognitive dissonance that I’ve struggled with for years and one that perhaps suggests I should just overcome this earnest part of my personality: I just don’t see myself as adult enough for any of this. I don’t feel adult enough to own a house or have kids. I’m almost in my mid-30s (okay, fine, I’m basically there) and Jon and I have certainly done many an “adult thing,” starting with marriage and barreling straight into parenthood. And yet, I keep waiting to wake up and feel old enough to have two daughters and a mortgage, but that day doesn’t seem to be coming.
Is this a bad thing? Do I need to feel like a bonafide adult to do adult things, well? I think Jon and I are doing a pretty bang-up job with Avi and Maya; they’re thriving. And we take care of our dog pretty well, too. And somehow we managed to get together all the proper documentation to prove we were worthy of a mortgage, so that’s something.
But do I need to cut my hair into a short mom-bob? Should I stop wearing sneakers everywhere? Do I have to start wearing lipstick? Must I wear more professional clothes or can I continue to shop at the Gap? Is it a problem that I automatically assume most new people I meet are older than me, or at least my age, when they are almost always younger? Shouldn’t I know by now, how to whip up a few key meals without having to refer to the splattered and torn notes I’ve written down with instructions on how to make my mother’s recipes?
Perhaps if I acted the part of adult a little more–just owned the title–then maybe I wouldn’t find myself as disappointed by the typical adult trials that will inevitably befall me. But then, I’m quite attached to my youthful self. Maybe this is a byproduct of being the youngest in the family. Maybe I’m hard-wired to feel like a kid. Who knows. What I do know is that if growing up and growing older means growing less playful, or more serious, or cracking fewer jokes, or no longer trusting that people mean what they say, then I’d rather stay in my permanent quasi-adult state, ponytail and all.
I believe that we’ll find another house that we’ll love, and I believe that we’ll build a happy life there. I’m not saying this because I’m some sort of unrealistic idealist (Jon and everyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I battle a fair share of neurotic pessimism). Rather, I say this because I believe that good things sometimes do happen to good people. And while we might be fighting the slide into middle age with every bone in our no-longer young bodies, we’re definitely good people. Good people in t-shirts and sneakers who are ready for the next step.