Monday, January 28, 2013

Disillusionment of Adulthood

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I must confess to disillusionment.  Growing up, I had ideas of what adulthood would be like.  I’m here, and it’s not entirely what I’d imagined.

For starters, I remember growing up amidst all the drama that comes with, well, growing up.  The gossip.  The hurt feelings.  The misunderstandings.  The fights between friends.  The back-stabbing.  And I remember being told that it would get better.  I’m not sure who told me that, but they were clearly wrong.

The drama may look a little different.  The words may sound a little different.  But the anguish of relationships remains.

Adults hurt each other’s feelings—intentionally and unintentionally.
Adults nitpick and cause fights over inconsequential issues.
Adults gossip.
Adults cry, scream, and pitch fits.
Adults build relational alliances, competing in “us vs. them” relational war.
Adults let issues build and exponentially swell until they explode.
Adults rarely identify the actual issue instead of the presenting issue.
Adults use mean, fighting, inappropriate, intentionally hurtful words.
Adults pout.
Adults ignore.

So, to all the teenagers I out there, I’m telling you the truth now:  It’s not different when you’re older.

The only thing that will make your future relationships different from your current relationships is you.

You can identify the healthy and unhealthy ways you tend to interact with people.
You can listen well, empathically, and first.
You can respond with grace, respect, and appropriate language.
You can be helpfully, healthily, honest.

Even though relational drama and conflict have not gone away as I’ve grown from teenager to adult, I’m a bit better at handling it now than I was then, and I still have a LONG, LONG way to go.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm a girl...and an adult.

I’m a girl…and an adult.

Both of those nouns scare me.

First, the girl piece.  I’ve always been girly.  I like clothes, make-up, decorating, jewelry, painting my nails, and wearing high heels.  I was a dancer and a cheerleader.  I’m a wife and a mom.  I’m most definitely a girl.

But, I’m not so good at relating with girls.  Girls scare me.  Every female knows how scary other females are.  It’s why girls are so emotionally tough; they terrorize each other from preschool on up.  And when I’m around really girly girls, with the tossing of hair, the perfect faces and magazine-cover homes, the giggling, the shrieking—I feel very uncomfortable.

I also get turned off by talk of what girls are like versus what guys are like.  Of course there are some generalities.  But, for example, I know females who’d rather watch live sports than reality TV and action movies than chick flicks.  I also know guys who are sensitive and caring, and girls who are locked-up blocks of ice.

Those aren’t the only reasons I’m bad at relating with girls, though.  I remember being in high school and being sarcastic.  Guys thought it was funny; girls did not.  They yelled and cried and gossiped.  I preferred the guys’ laughter.

I also preferred the guys’ attention.  I was a bit of a flirt once upon a time—long, long ago.  That was a quick and easy way to alienate myself from other girls. 

Now, the adult piece.  Somewhere along the line, I became an adult.  I’m not sure exactly when that was; my husband thinks it was the moment I started driving a station wagon / little mini-van.  Regardless, I am in adult world now with the mortgage, the babies, the job, and the bills.

I work with adults.  But, since I was a teenager, I’ve been working with teenagers, too.  Lots of adults are intimidated in a room of 50 teenagers; that sounds relaxing and comfortable to me.  However, the flipside of my comfort with teenagers is my discomfort with adults.  Again, they scare me.

I like to think I’m making progress on both the girl and the adult fronts.  I have the pleasure of serving alongside other adult girls in student ministry at my church.  I have the joy of sharing a meal once a month with other adult girl pastors.  I have the honor of working alongside other adult girls on staff at church.  And, I genuinely like these ladies.  They may still scare me from time to time.  But, I like them, and I think they’re helping me learn how to relate to girls, to adults, and to adult girls.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Grocery Store

I vividly remember being in college, having a small, fixed income, and going grocery shopping all by myself with my money.  I loved it.  I loved the freedom of bypassing the fruit stands and going straight for the Kraft macaroni and cheese, the popcorn, the Cup O' Noodles, the Tostitos and salsa (I have a love affair with salt if you cannot tell.), and the cereal.  The diet of a college student.

It was fun and empowering.  I felt so independent.

Now, grocery shopping is a little different.  I think almost every mom can identify with my dread of grocery shopping with a preschooler and toddler in tow.  We've all been "that mom"--the one with the crying kid, the runaway kid, the kid who's grabbing food items off the shelves (usually on the candy aisle).  

"Going to the grocery store" has become iconic in our household.  When my 4-year-old wants asks from the backseat, "Where are we going," my husband often replies, "the grocery store."  This catalyzes crying and whining from said 4-year-old whose least favorite place in the world is the grocery store.  He'd rather go to the dentist...seriously.

The weekly grocery trip is now a dreaded activity, instead of an anticipated one.

Then, a few nights ago I was rocking my 2-year-old before bedtime.  We cuddled in the glider with a stuffed penguin, a blanket, and a couple Mo Willems books.  We turned on the soft music.  She said her version of, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."  Often, she asks me to talk to God after she recites her prayer.  But this night, she said, "I talk to God.  God, thank you I got to go to the grocery store with Mommy today. Amen."


Here's to re-thinking the weekly grocery trip, to seeing it through my daughter's eyes, and to making it an anticipated activity once again.