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Tips For Adulthood: Five Signs You’re A Grown Up

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. An old friend phoned me from the States a few weeks back. We got to chatting about our lives: work and...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

An old friend phoned me from the States a few weeks back. We got to chatting about our lives: work and families and kids and all the stuff you catch up on when you only talk to someone every six months or so.

And then, at one point in the conversation, we started talking about how – despite being in our mid-40s – we still don’t feel entirely settled. We both still have a sense that adulthood – whatever that is – is waiting right around the corner…along with a fully mapped out career, an entirely stable sense of self (and some good, sturdy walking shoes tossed in for good measure.)

“I mean look at my sofas,” she said at one point. “I still use tapestries to cover the stains on my sofas.”

I knew exactly what she meant. Lately, whenever I go in to tidy up the living room, I find myself using a throw someone gave us as a wedding present 13 years ago to cover up the rips in the upholstery on our own (hand-me-down) sofa.

And I think to myself: when am I going to buy some grown-up furniture? You know, the kind you can properly entertain with?

Probably round about the time that I start taking vitamins daily and reading the Wall Street Journal for stock tips.

To wit, five signs you’re a grown up:

1. You no longer hang tapestries on your sofa. Or hang tapestries period. Definitely a hold-over from graduate student days.

2. You serve something other than beer at dinner parties. Speaking of graduate school, another friend of mine asked us over to her house for drinks recently. “Sorry,” she apologized. “We’ve never really figured out how to entertain properly. It’ll just be beer and crisps (potato chips) I’m afraid.” Hey, I love beer as much as the next gal. But I knew just what she meant. I, too, have never quite mastered the art of the dinner party/cocktail party: what to serve/where to seat people/how to link the courses together. Some people make it look so easy…and fun. Whereas I find myself ducking for cover under the (delicious) lasagna from a local deli and still manage to get stressed out.

3. You commit to a forever house. This is a biggie. And one that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately as my husband and I try to decide whether to carry on renting or suck it up and buy a place. As I wrote in an earlier post on this topic, there’s something quite daunting about the prospect of home ownership, at least for me. And not just in the financial sense. But in the psychological sense of actually committing yourself to living in one place…for a long time…without one foot out the door. The beauty of renting is that you know that if you changed your mind tomorrow, you could always leave. And I find that possibility of movement deeply reassuring (if not entirely mature).

4. You respond when someone calls you “Mom.” One friend confided to me that even after her son was two years old, she still found herself looking around in befuddlement whenever he addressed her as “Mom.” (Who me? What’s a Mom? Is there a qualified adult in this house?) Once again, I think we’ve all been there, at least those of us who are parents. Even as your kids get older, you sometimes look at yourself and think: “How can I possibly be called upon to give advice in this situation?” “What on earth do I know?” “Why don’t you ask a grown up…whoops, I mean…”

5. You don’t send naked pictures of yourself over the Internet. At least if you’re a politician. Just sayin’…


Image: my old loveseat by joshleejosh via Flickr on a Creative Commons license

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  1. Lynn T June 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I’m 40 years old and I don’t capture a single one of these, most days.

  2. Rose June 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    When you have folks for dinner and you put as much thought into the non-alcoholic drinks as to the alcoholic ones.

    Then you’re a grown-up.

  3. delialloyd June 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    @rose-ha! love that. and @lynn-so glad I’m not alone!

  4. Elizabeth June 21, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    I’m a little late to the party as usual, but 2 comments:

    (1) I would add: you know you’re an adult when you don’t necessarily look forward to school being out for the summer and all the scrambling that entails.

    (2) My husband just got rid of a crate full of old tapestries, which I guess suggests we’re growing up. The funny thing is, I suggested he offer them to our teenage nephews at boarding school (where everyone used tapestries back in the day). Well, nephews weren’t even remotely interested.

  5. delialloyd June 21, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    @elizabeth-oh indeed. tapestries are *so* our generation. thx for the anecdote-spot on!

  6. daryl boylan June 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Tapestries??? As has often been pointed out, damn few of us ever do grow up completely & maybe that’s a good thing.

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