Maybe you’ve seen it on Pinterest, the type over a color-saturated mountain scene, or on an Etsy print, or a tote bag or journal cover: the line, “Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers.” I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s certainly taken off in the past year or two, at least in the world of the Internet and upper-middle-class Millennials. Something about it rubs me the wrong way, though. What is it with my set and the idea of adventure?
I have to admit, our wedding invitations used the line from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: “To love would be an awfully big adventure.” For me, using that quote reframed marriage, not as simply an institution, a rite of passage, a joining of bank accounts. It would not only be hard, or work, or even compromise. It would be an adventure.
In my experience, my generation just does not want to grow up. Growing up is basically the worst. I imagine there was a time when growing up was a good thing, when people longed to move out from under their parents’ covering and strike out on their own, to lead their own family and run their own households. I wouldn’t know. That’s never been a huge desire of mine. Traveling the world? Yes. Having my own house just the way I like it? Meh, not so much. So, then, when I find myself again and again faced with opportunities to grow up (and at 31 and pregnant, there are plenty of them), I want to whine and transport myself to my adventurous traveling days, when the world was sprawled out at my feet and I couldn’t wait to stamp any remaining spaces in my passport.
Take last Saturday, for example: two of my girlfriends were planning on spending time by the pool, and can I just say all summer long I have been dying to go swimming? To the point where I was researching the best places to swim in Colorado? And here my friend was, with a pool at her apartment, planning on having a lazy day with popsicles and girl talk. Heaven. But, our car was totaled a couple weeks ago in an accident, and we needed to shop for a new one. I pretty much threw a fit that morning to Robert, whining about how I didn’t get to enjoy myself all summer because we’d been packing, moving, unpacking, settling the house, etc. “I just want to go the pool!” I whine/moaned like an eight-year-old. When we left the house a while later to look at a few cars, I packed a bag with a swimsuit and towel, in case we finished up early and I could meet my friends. On the way to see the first car, both Robert and I were grumpy and snappy, until Robert said, “Let’s be grown-ups today.”
I needed that. I needed to flip a switch in my head and say, I’m not eight years old. I’m an adult who needs a car to get to work, and today that means I’m not going swimming. Just like that, we changed gears, and we spent the next 10 hours (literally) car shopping, with an IKEA trip thrown in, having a very grown-up Saturday devoid of summer fun. But we did what we needed to do and what no one else was going to do for us.
I think any woman’s first pregnancy has her thinking about growing up, because it suddenly feels like a whole new level of growing up to contemplate, being an adult with a tiny life in her charge. I’m hyperaware of my bad moods, my whining, my tantrums and complaining and fussiness—basically, when I’m acting like a child. How can I raise my baby to be a good, upstanding citizen and family member and friend, if I’m setting an example of laziness, whining and complaining? I have to get my act together—fast.
Driving together recently to Rocky Mountain National Park, Robert and I were listening to a podcast by Erwin McManus. In it, he asked a question like, “Is there something you’ve been struggling with since you were a child—and you’re still dealing with it as an adult?” I felt sheepish. I thought about how much I’d been complaining lately, how negative I’ve been, how miserable my company has been for Robert. I remembered when I was a horrible teenager and my mom and stepdad would say, “You can’t talk for the next hour unless you say something positive.” How am I still dealing with that, a decade and a half later? In his podcast, Erwin said something like, “You have to make the choice, and say to yourself, ‘I’m not a child, I am an adult’—and move on from there.” That got me. It’s just like Robert said in the car: “Let’s be grown-ups.” Like most of life, it’s a choice. It’s just making that choice, over and over again—that’s the tough part.
Oh darling, let’s be grown-ups. That’s my motto for this season of life—it doesn’t sound as exciting as the adventurers version, and it wouldn’t look as whimsical on a pillow, but I think the fruit of that motto, for now at least, will end up tasting a lot sweeter.
P.S. More posts on here about growing up: Never Too Late, Never Too Early; 30 and Nostalgic: Is the Fun Over?; Young and Wild and Free: How Travel Is Different Now I’m Nearly 30.