Today’s blog post is written by a fellow writer, friend, and oh yes, my cousin. Good stuff.
I recently read a humorous list of things that catch newly-minted adults off guard. Things ranging from making your first doctor’s appointment by yourself, to eating an entire cake just like you’ve always wanted induced many reminiscent giggles (it was an entire bag of marshmallows for me). That list has come to mind several times over the course of the last month. Initially it brought about lots of laughs and a determination to make sure my kids are prepared for the world when the time comes. But even more so, it has brought to light my own foray into adulthood.
This has been a challenging year for me. Both of my children have officially started homeschool which brings about a empowering sense of accomplishment and determination accompanied by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Unlike most who have at their disposal the luxury of blaming the system for their children’s academic struggles, it’s all on me. If they traipse off to college and fall flat, that’s on me. So we get up each morning at the same time, not because someone makes me do it that way, but because it works best for us. Despite how much I’d love to sleep in some days, or not worry about school, I know that my kids, so young now, are counting on me to teach them how to be good, capable people.
On top of that, my grandmother, now eighty-seven, has moved in with our family. The sheer volume of the treasure trove that is her life’s story makes it worth it. As a child I always marveled at how strong she is, how capable. Now that I’m older, coupled with the simple proximity of our paths’ daily crossing, I am keenly aware of her struggles. Her loneliness since my grandfather’s passing some ten years ago, her fight to remain useful and relevant, her frustrations over a failing body. And, now, instead of walking away knowing that someone else will take care of it, I know that it’s on me. If she’s unhappy, it’s my job to encourage her, to let her know she’s loved and appreciated because there is no one else who knows her like I do. There is no one else in the position to see her needs…not anymore. Her physical and emotional well-being? That’s on me.
Moreover, my parents have reached retirement age. The time has come to start putting their affairs in order. It’s time to pass the torch of their property and its heritage to the next generation. But the doing of such is ever more complex. Trying to balance the interests of three children and their spouses is an exceptional challenge, one that I’m in the thick of simply by living near them. Part of me wants to pull for my best interests, but that’s the child in me. The grownup me knows that my father’s desires to preserve what his father earned and was eventually laid to rest on are every bit as important as my mother’s desire to please and bless each of her children fairly and all of this trumps my wishes. So instead, I devise as many options as I can dream up to a variety of ends. I seek legal and tax council to make them as informed as possible. I encourage, urge, and entreat them to make a decision soon. But most of all, I determine that whatever they decide is best, will satisfy me even if I’m left with nothing.
This year, I also informally took on my aunt’s bookkeeping. It’s not exactly a huge undertaking, but it is very telling. She’s also reaching retirement age, and in need of help to keep her household in order. My father was the obvious choice, except that it goes without saying that he won’t be around forever. Again, my proximity to the situation made me the best candidate for the job. So now I make sure her bills are paid, that her heat is on, that she has money for food. I also anticipate looking after her affairs as her health begins to fail and, more immediately, as repairs or issues arise regarding her car, her house, or any number of things that can go wrong from day to day. The child in me was ignorant to the struggle, arrogant towards the need. The adult sees that there is no one else, so her well-being is also on me.
I don’t say all this to gain sympathy or accolades, though I’ll happily take both. Rather to share my experience of laying the child in me to rest and taking on the mantle of adulthood with its ever-increasing weight. I understand why adults are more serious than kids, why they have more thought-lines on their foreheads and around their eyes. It does not mean that they have lost the ability to have fun, but that they have gained perspective on fun. I understand why grownups are wiser than children. They have put off the immediacy of childish urging and look to the greater, far-reaching good. I understand why adults deal with conflict differently than children. While it’s understandable for a child to not want to work with someone who has slighted him, a grown person does not have time for trivial conflict. Instead the adult chalks it up to a misunderstanding, or even scales the unpredictable slopes of peacemaking.
And how? How does one simply become grown? With that mantle weighing down as I uphold new responsibilities with each passing year, how do I stand? Who holds me up? The answer is found in Hebrews: Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest so that no one may fall… It’s about coming to a rest on God. He holds me up. And He is faithful. His most common tool in holding me up is my husband, a man solidly anchored in Christ, on whom I come to rest daily.
And I am blessed.
I am blessed by every new word my children read.
By every laugh invoked from my grandmother.
By my parents and their struggle to be wise.
By my knowledge that my aunt is taken care of.
By my husband who is like a rock, unwavering.
By my God whose lovingkindness never ceases, whose mercies never fail and are new every morning.