(16) growing up

What are you going to be when you grow up?

I don’t mean to dwell on this, but the question feels like a haunting soundtrack that pierces my everyday awareness.

I think the thing is that I just want my life to mean something.

But then, I want lots of things. I wanted to hang out with a friend tonight. I wanted to be productive…and I wanted to do nothing. I wanted a clean house and a delicious dinner (that’s not a surprise) and hours and hours to get everything done at once. Interesting how that turned out.

It’s  a terrible thing to confess, but lately I have had feelings of wedding envy. I tell myself that I loved my wedding, that I love my photographs, that I loved everything about it, with just a few minor changes. I tell myself that it is just a day, that it is the marriage that matters, etc., etc. But then I see my friends’ wedding photos and I listen to others plan their perfectly glamorous days, and I feel the sting of jealousy. I guess it is painful to realize that the one big day that I piled so many expectations, dreams, fantasies, and so much money into…was just. one. day. If I blame it on cultural brainwashing, do I get a free jealousy-allowed ticket?

What are you going to be when you grow up? Well married. Obviously. Except for a few brief seasons during which I aspired to become a self-sacrificing, mystical Protestant nun, I always expected to get married someday. And if getting married doesn’t make you grown up, well, then there is a good chance nothing will.

So that is the connection tonight. I’m here, on the married side of the ethereal wedding day, on the grown up side of growing up, and where is here exactly? My wedding day was good, but not perfect. Others have done it better since I did it. My marriage is good, but (definitely) not perfect. Others seem to have figured that out better than I have as well (I know, that is probably an illusion).

This is such a familiar place. If there is a theme to this year, it is that of acceptance, openness. Because I struggle so hard to achieve the goal, instead of being still and content in the process. I thought I would be grown up by now, but I still have no idea what that means and, as it turns out, I guess I’m still growing up. Damn.

I just want my life to mean something. Except that I’m picky about what meaning should look like. In other words, there can’t be purposeful God-light meaning in this job I have, I’d like another job please. And my marriage isn’t quite as tidy and romantic and “happily ever after” as I expected, so can I take a pill or read an article to make it a more meaningful marriage? And these afternoons full of tired dishes and food-freezing and a lot of questions, this can’t be the meaning You’re putting into this day, can it be, Jesus? I mean, seriously.

I want to be grown up without growing up. Ah, now that’s cute.

 

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