I crossed the line to age 27 this last year… on December 31st! Yep, I was a tax-deduction-induction baby. I’ve spent the last nine years, since turning eighteen, charging through the New Adult stage of life – breakups, marriage, the early days of raising children, trying to establish a career. It’s been an amazing nine years, and I wouldn’t trade the love of my husband, all my extended family, my friends or my children for anything in the world.
Nope. Not for anything.
But the week was trying in several ways, as I spent the second week of age 27 dealing with the intensity of raising a slightly-not-neurotypical child and two others who need a normalcy that some days do not bring in our house, and keeping up on the complete assload of dishes and laundry with a kinked neck that I couldn’t turn left. On top of that, I did my best to keep up with writing and editing.
One thing completely slipped off the map this week: exercise. I still managed to eat decently for most of those days, but man, if I don’t get my exercise, the frustration starts to build.
I’m twenty-seven, now. I can handle this. It’s not a big deal. Everything is going fine! Nothing to melt down about.
The week brought fantastic news! My agent, Michelle Johnson, received two manuscript requests for my paranormal romance with Emily Faith. New Adult is soaring off the charts and that makes me happy. All in all, despite the mounting laundry and stress with a school-aged child whose behavior requires my presence in the principal’s office a few times a week, things were going really well. Really well. I was happy, excited, and driven.
Then, I argued with my husband about the building pile of laundry, because my neck took four days to unkink enough that I could unload wet laundry into the dryer. I wanted more help around the house. I tried to ask nicely.
Nothing to be upset about! You’re a big girl now. Don’t get discouraged. See the big picture.
Asking nicely didn’t go so well… because I completely failed to ask nicely.
He understands. Forgives you. Loves you. Not a big deal… apologizing helps heal it all.
Working on some rearranging of a scene in the sequel to Wild Hyacinthe one night, I got very cold as the wind blasted through the thin windows in our house. Alberta Chinook winds are warm… until they shift and the wind blows from the north. Then it gets cold. Really cold.
Gotta keep working. Go get a sweater, warm up, and keep at it. Big girl, remember? Can’t quit now.
Walking down the hall, I felt the familiar emergence of “Oh, hey, there you are, monthly emotions. Hormones. Missed you.” I resisted the urge to shout, “NOT!” Out loud at my subconscious. Because sneering at yourself out loud is crazy. I’m not that crazy. I bit down the emotions and continued on.
Breathing deeply. Handling it maturely. I’m a grown-up, now – not even a “new adult” anymore.
I banged my elbow on the doorframe.
I stood there for a minute, holding my elbow, which didn’t even hurt that badly….
The tears streamed out before I could stop them, and in a movement fit for a three-year-old, I flopped onto my bed and sobbed. Why was I crying? Because I banged my elbow? Because I was cold? Stressed? Excited and overwhelmed by the excitement?
Because my hopes are high and so are the stakes? Because I’m female and sometimes the tears don’t make sense?
Or… perhaps I was crying because the New Adult stage is not defined by age. Rather, it’s defined by the tendency to want to handle things like a teenager and to need to handle them like a grown-up.
I called my dad. Man, talking to him makes me feel better all the time. He helped me deal with the way I was feeling about my challenges in parenting. He helps me see that I am growing up, even if I’m not all the way there, yet. Adulthood is all a learning process that never ends.
Life is a learning process that never ends. New Adulthood is learning that.
My husband talked to me about his faith in me and the fact that he knows, even though I occasionally break down, that I’m going to pick back up and carry forward with strength and dignity. (Most of my dignity, anyway.) A little bit of it went into the laundry with the tear-soaked pillow case.
And after reading Bad Rep by A. Meredith Walters, I realized that my micro-breakdown was absolutely okay. Totally normal. And a critical part of my growing up, because it taught me something. It taught me how to be okay with handling things imperfectly.
I threw a load of laundry in the machine, poured a glass of wine, and read a book instead of working any more that evening. The words of someone wise echoed through my head, “Be gentle with yourself.”
Am I a grown-up?
Hell, no. Not yet. But are you? Really, truly, grown up? Or will this process never end, as we carry forward, learning and growing as we go?
New Adult appeals to people of all ages for exactly this reason: life is about growing up. New Adult is the stage where we accept that growing up might take our whole lifespan. And that’s totally okay.
Just like it’s totally okay that I’m doing Tuesday’s laundry instead of yesterday’s, and it’s totally okay that my oldest daughter needs to call her mom when her own frustration bubbles over in school. It’s totally okay that my husband forgets to help out when I need it and it’s totally okay that I’ve only written one chapter this week.
Next week, I’ll do more laundry and maybe fall behind on sweeping the floors. I’ll write more chapters but maybe not get much done for editing. And I’m sure I’ll drink too much coffee, get not-enough-exercise and handle a few things like a hormonal girl instead of the sophisticated woman I like to be.
All of that, every speck of it, is totally me, and totally okay.
New Adult is about finding that balance. Accepting imperfections. Realizing that happily-ever-after only lasts so long. Pushing through it all regardless of how much you want to flop onto the pillow and sob. Occasionally sobbing and pushing through again.
I’m so thrilled to have a front-row seat and watch the excitement of New Adult as it emerges as a fiction genre. Thank you, to the authors writing New Adult, for all the lessons you’ve taught and will teach my children when they, too, wonder if they’re grown up already.