Last Saturday morning, though being terribly ill with some sort of respiratory infection, I baked and decorated a couple dozen cupcakes for an event my derby league was having. Leaving to drop the cupcakes off, I was trying to unlock the car door while balancing the cupcakes, a go-cup of coffee and my over sized purse filled with a water bottle, snacks, and Halls and I suddenly had a vision of what I must look like to any casual passerby. There I am, in a sensible t-shirt and capris, snuffling sick but still all capable, prepared and caffeinated.
'Oh,' I thought, 'I look like such a mom!'
And instead of being horrified, I was actually rather pleased.
I recently turned thirty-six years old. This is an incredible number to me. I have always been one to be quietly abhorrent of the aging process, especially since I usually feel about sixteen years old. Considering becoming pregnant for the first time at twenty-eight, my main concern was that I simply wasn't old enough to handle that sort of responsibility. Old enough inside anyway.
There are signs all about me that I'm a little bit stuck in my youth, particularly my early twenties. I won't go into details, but if you checked out my CD collection you'd probably get a fairly good idea. Not that fifteen years ago was the best time of my life, everything that is good in my life now has arrived since that time, but it was an age when I felt like I could take on the world, win, and still have time for a beer afterwards. When I was big enough to do what I want but the word 'grown-up' still didn't apply.
Since that small slip of time, though, with the addition of jobs, university, marriage and children - so much responsibility! - I felt like I was faking being an adult. Pretending to know what I'm doing. And one day I would be found out.
But just this last Saturday morning, as I trouped out of the house (that isn't big but it's mine) in comfortable clothes (that aren't too stylish but wash up easily) to run errands and deliver home baked goods in a car (that isn't pretty but it is paid for), rushing slightly because I must come back to care for my sickly family (who aren't perfect but incredibly lovable), I felt like maybe I'm not so much like a child playing grown-up. Maybe, during the last fifteen years, while I was busy trying to figure out how to make a relationship last and create a home and care for babies and support a growing family and find how I can use my own talents to fit into this world that I have somehow grown into someone who deserves the title 'adult'. That I'm not faking it. I can actually do stuff.
That feels good.
So, now that I'm all grown up, I can paint my living room white. It seems like such a bold thing to do, having previously chosen every boisterous colour in the rainbow to paint my houses in. Because white seemed so blah and grown-up. A vibrant blue for the exterior, a trendy eye searingly bright lime green for the bathroom, these things are a part of what previously helped me express the feeling of being very young in a body old enough to be a 'home-owner'.
But now, I'm thinking that I need to embrace my new recognition of being capable. My genuine grown-upness that is both what I thought it would be and very different at the same time.
The white for the walls I have chosen - very definitively chosen despite The Man's skepticism - is a shade I'm calling 'candle' because it is that exact tone of soft and pliable warmth that I want to wrap myself in. You have to look a closely to discern the tone difference between the walls and the stark white baseboards, but that quiet distinction makes a whole world of calm to me.
Like many of my generation, I used to associate aging with fading away. But now I wonder if that aging means that we no longer need the exhibitionism of youth to feel like we have a place in the world. Knowing that there isn't any satisfaction in burning out. Real power, real acceptance, real capability doesn't need to advertise itself. Less noise, attitude, and need to define oneself publically - colourfully - means more focus on the things that are important to just me.