I am a grown up. I guess there is no escaping that now. And I've realised that although others may look at you as being a grown up it can take quite a long time to acknowledge it yourself. And potentially there is 'the moment' when you suddenly realise that it has happened. You actually feel like a grown up. Something has happened that makes you feel older. I've had that moment.
I left home just a couple of months after turning 18. Officially I suppose I was an adult. And perhaps for some people this is the moment - leaving home and going out alone. I didn't feel grown up though. I lived in a scuzzy flat where you could put things up on the wall just by pushing them firmly against the congealed slime. I lived with two girls who I had never met before. One of whom who was an idiot and was convinced foxes were venomous. We had barbeques on the world's smallest balcony causing the whole flat to fill with smoke. It didn't seem like somewhere a grown up would live. I had a job where I looked after children all day. Eight hours a day, five days a week I was a grown up. But only in comparison to the three year olds I looked after. I didn't feel grown up.
The year I turned twenty one was a busy one for me and Carolyn. We moved back from London. We got married. I got a new job and applied to start my nursing training. We bought a flat together. Surely with all that I would start to feel like a grown up? Not really. Once my mother in law's dog jumped out of our bedroom window three floors up. At 9 o'clock in the evening. On Christmas Eve. She landed in the garden of the flat below after bouncing off a washing line on the way. It was garden of a drug dealing pimp called Omar. I'm not sure if you've ever knocked on the door of a drug dealing pimp and tried to explain that a lunatic dog has landed on their patio. It was an odd experience. Omar himself wasn't particularly fazed by the incident and was remarkably helpful. He was however too upset to see the dog a couple of days later after she had had a back leg amputated. He told me he couldn't bear to see anything so distressing. I can't imagine it was any more distressing than what happened in his flat but I suppose it's nice to know everyone has a limit. This sort of thing didn't happen in a grown up's flat.
Many more busy years followed. I completed my training and got a real job that I was actually trained for rather than just winging it as I had been doing in all my previous jobs. In fact I had more than a job, I had a career. We moved and bought a house. I did grown up stuff like DIY. But not in a particularly grown up way. I fell out of my attic once. I think it was the only time I ever went up there. I ended up stuck upside down in a built in wardrobe. Not very grown up. I grew a beard. A real beard. Surely you had to be a grown up to be the owner of your very own beard. Nope. Apparently not.
And then we had Anna. We had brought our own little human into the world. I showed her off to family and friends. I took her to groups and activities. I took her to the doctors and the health visitor. I was obviously a grown up. This must be it. This was the moment. This was when I actually felt like a real life grown up. Except it wasn't. There was no moment of realisation. A bit of me still felt the same as when we got married. "Has anyone realised what we are doing? Is a grown up aware of what we are up to?" I suppose everyone else thought of us as being grown up but I didn't. When Anna was two months old I was putting the rubbish out whilst holding her and a stranger stopped me and said "I thought you were going to put that baby in your bin." I made a mental note at that point not to carry my child the same way I carry rubbish. This was not grown up behaviour.
Iris arrived. I had two children. A dad of two. We moved house again and bought a sensible grown up house. Boring but practical. The house, not me. I'm not particularly practical. So when I was out and about with two children I thought I might feel grown up. Pushing a pram with another little person strolling along beside me. But I still didn't feel grown up. I did silly things like dress the children in each other's clothes despite there being two years difference between them. Or put their clothes on back to front and not realise all day. I wondered if Carolyn was grown up before I was. One day we compared our last viewed videos on YouTube; Carolyn had been teaching Anna about weddings so her last viewed were first dances and brides walking down the aisle. I had been showing Anna the top 10 Star Wars lightsaber duels. Would I have to stop this before I felt grown up...?
But eventually the moment came. And it caught me by surprise. I was sat at home with the girls. Anna had a new favourite film that she was watching over and over. I hadn't sat down and watched it with her yet but I'd seen it as a child. It was Mary Poppins. She loved it and watched it over and over. So reluctantly one day I sat down in the living room whilst it was on. My mind wandered and I found myself looking at Mary Poppins differently. I turned to Carolyn "You know Mary Poppins... I think I would." And that was it. My defining moment. My realisation that I was a grown up. Not leaving home. Not getting married. Not having children. But going "phwoar" at Mary Poppins. I had started to see the world differently. That is a sure sign of being a grown up. Isn't it?
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