Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Wow. That went fast.

I keep hearing that we're at the end of a decade. It kinda crept up on me. I guess I am still one of those obnoxious people who believes a decade doesn't really start until the year ends in a 1 and we've got until the end of 2010 before we really start looking back at the "Aughts" or whatever the hell we're supposed to call this decade. But whatever. I'll play along.

First, though...seriously. What do we call this decade? The Single Digits? The "Ohs"? What? I need to know this.

This decade was for me, and I am guessing for most of you who are my age, the decade of "Becoming." We all became things this decade we weren't before. I became a school librarian. Then a home owner. And a mom. Then a cancer survivor. And a mourner.

Some of the things I became this decade were joyful. Some were not. But every change that occurred, every step I took whether it was uphill or down, led me to this place where I am: full-fledged adulthood. Adulthood doesn't begin with a set age; it doesn't necessarily happen when you turn 18 or 21. It happens that first day that you fully take charge of your life and look around and realize that you are 100% fully responsible for yourself. That you are your own safety net. That other people count on you besides just yourself.

And that certainly happened to me this decade.

I thought I became an adult when I became a mom. I became responsible for a tiny, helpless person who depended on me for everything. But we all know (especially those of us who work in a high school with a school-run daycare next door) that just because you're a mom doesn't mean you're a responsible adult. Especially in the beginning, when I didn't know what the hell I was doing and the post-partum depression was causing me to have as many tantrums as Ainsley, I felt more like I was playing house than being a good parent.

Then I thought I arrived into full adulthood when I started cancer treatment. But at that time, I still had both of my parents to help me through. My dad helped us financially and my mom helped me physically, even coming over one afternoon following biopsy surgery to give me a bath because I was too weak to do it myself. Cancer can make anyone feel like a helpless child again.

No, all these things were just stepping stones on my journey. But the day this decade that I realized I had arrived into my place in the world was the day I stood in the kitchen of the house I grew up in and called my dad's brothers and sister to tell them he'd passed away. When it came time to do this and to start making funeral arrangements, my mom and sister looked to me.

"We need you," they said. And I did what needed to be done. As the youngest child in my family, I had never before been called to take care of any of them; they had all taken care of me. But now I had to grow up. They weren't strong enough in that moment. I was. And the man who had been my lifeline the past few years, the person I knew would bail Jason and I out if we ever found ourselves in trouble of any kind, was gone.

It was up to me from now on.

With Jason's mom passing away in May, Jason and I are in a place where we only have one parent left between us. We talk about how this feels sometimes; it feels like we're next in line. The buck stops here. It's a sad, lonely place, but an empowering one, too. We lean on each other, because we're almost all we've got. We're flying without a net, with no one to catch us if we fall.

We're not kids anymore. I can still say I am someone's daughter because my mother is still here; Jason no longer has that label. He is a father, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a boss. It's no longer about us.

We are grownups.

What have you taken away from this decade, whatever we're deciding to call it? What did you become?

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