Those of you who have children, do you ever feel like you haven’t quite adjusted to the reality of your lifestyle yet? I sometimes find myself looking at other families out and about and thinking how their situation seems so familiar and yet so alien at the same time. The parents look older, more responsible, firmly adult in some mysterious way; they look like members of some club I don’t yet belong to.

Can it really be that I am a person with two children? TWO? It seems like the strangest damn thing. My car is a shitpile of cracker crumbs, juice spills, and carseats, so it must be true. I don’t know, though, shouldn’t I know what the hell I’m doing by now? I kind of feel like I should have had to pass a test.

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Jess
14 years ago

Yeah, I look around and think “everyone has this figured out, I’m the only one.” And sometimes I resent my life a bit and that makes me feel as guilty as HELL. I have an incredible life. Period. But damn it’s hard and sometimes I wonder where I’ve gone.

donna
donna
14 years ago

My daughter is turning 30 this year and when I realized it I thought damn SHE’S getting old. I don’t think it ever goes away. She seems a lot older than me and she has 4 kids, that makes her older, right? Right?

Peggasus
14 years ago

Fuck yeah.

And my boys are 16 and 21.

(Heavy, heaaaavy sigh.)

Marie Green
14 years ago

Um yeah, I’ve been at things for my kids, and when they say things like- “parents, you can sign in over here, and kids you can go over there” or some such reference, I’m either a) looking for the parents, not realizing they mean ME or b) casually standing with the kids, not noticing a thing.

Sometimes, when I read blogs, and they use the word “parents” as in ME, I automatically think of my parents or our parents generation. It takes me awhile to figure out the point, until I realize they are talking about US.

HOW? How do I own a house, and make preschool decisions, and have “playdates” and shop for groceries and diapers? HOW?

Josh
14 years ago

You could be doing much worse. I plan on teaching my children colors completely mixed up. Possibly animal sounds too. And swears.

Jen
Jen
14 years ago

Linda,

Just wanted to say (after lurking for a long time) that I had a revelation after having #2 that we had gone from being a couple with a kid to being a family. For me, it was a big moment. The day my kids (maybe when younger was 9 m.o. started playing with each other I said “yes, this is why we did this”. My kids are now 2 and 3.5 and it is great. Be strong and keep writing, I love your voice.

Operation Pink Herring
14 years ago

I’m kidless, and I still feel like an imposter in my own life sometimes! I look at other people my age, with jobs and husbands and pets and I just wonder why they seem so much more together than I am. I still feel like a college student masquerading around, pretending to be an adult.

erin
14 years ago

I totally know how you feel! I still feel like I’m, I don’t know, still in my early twenties (I’m almost 33) and get surprised every time I look in the mirror and find a gray hair. And then I have KIDS? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?

So yeah. Right there with ya.

Carol
14 years ago

I just love that somehow my kids — all four of them — reach adulthood without me aging one single year.

Because I AM still 29. I am. I am. I AM!

Carol

Lesley
Lesley
14 years ago

They’re looking at you and thinking the exact same thing.

This condition of continuous adjustment is normal, though somehow I still don’t quite believe it. Not that I have kids, I’m just speaking of life in general. I keep waiting for that magic moment when the answers come, things fall into place, I feel complete, and it never comes.

Johanna
Johanna
14 years ago

Yeah, I do. Oh, I wish I could elaborate without making all my three remaining brain cells EXPLODE with the exertion, but no. I’ll just say “I agree with most of the above commenters” and be done with it.

(Jesus, pregnancy makes me so stupid, not to mention exhausted. I have less than three weeks to go to the C-section and I eagerly anticipate being able to walk without wheezing like an aging asthmatic after 10 feet.)

thejunebug
thejunebug
14 years ago

“The parents look older, more responsible, firmly adult in some mysterious way; they look like members of some club I don’t yet belong to.”

If it makes you feel better, I feel the same way when I look at your pictures on Flickr. JB and my husband Jay are the exact same age, and there are only a couple of years difference between you & I, but to me you are The Wise, Knowing Parents while I’m still just an overgrown kid. Ok, so we have a mortgage and a house and 2 cars and we’re starting a family, but I still feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I think many people feel that way.

Jaidnoire
14 years ago

So true, all of it. I’m 30 and just 6 months into the parenting gig, atleast once a day looking down at the Boy like “Whoa…they seriously let us bring him home?”. Every one else looks like they’ve got it together while I feel like I’m about to get thrown out of the club after using a fake ID to get in.

Add to it that my husband and I were friends in HS, at 13/14 years old. In the middle of doing/saying something “grown up”, I see these 2 kids playing house with a mortgage, jobs, cars and bills, talking about life insurance and I’m like WTF?

E
E
14 years ago

I recently had a big revelation: Everyone feels that way. Even the ones who seem like they have it all together. Just like I realized that everyone struggles with money at times, and everyone has insecurities. It really was a big revelation to me, because I honestly felt like I was the only one.

And somewhere there is someone who is looking at you and thinking, Why can’t I have it all together like her?

Cara
Cara
14 years ago

I understand how you feel. My kids are close in age, although much older than yours, but it was hard to get used to having TWO other humans to be responsible for after having just that one for nearly 2 years. Be grateful you have your wonderful husband for help. As for feeling like an impostor, I still haven’t gotten used to being an adult at all. I see children I used to babysit with kids and the mayor of our town happens to be a kid I babysat!! WTF when did I get so old?
Your feelings are completely natural and no, not everyone else you see is a better parent than you, maybe just different.
Keep the chin up lady.

Pam
Pam
14 years ago

I didn’t adjust to the reality of my 4 kids til I became a grandmother.

Christina
14 years ago

I was just thinking this VERY same thing. I look around and think my goodness that couple looks so much older and more responsible then I do… I feel like I am still 18 (and that I look like I am still 18) and people wonder how in the world I could possibly be a parent, just look at her with her dishevelled hair and clothing and wow she really cannot parent worth a hoot, OY!

Jamie
14 years ago

I feel the EXACT SAME WAY

Shannon
14 years ago

yes, yes, YES!

Andrea
14 years ago

100% nail on the head. I can’t be the mother of two! That’s for mature people, right? People with responsibility and a sense of financial direction and maybe a little morality thrown in so they can raise a happy child to a productive adult.

But then I realize I’ve been an accountant for 7 years at the same job. I have a mortgage. My financial direction is more like Please God let there be enough to pay the bills and maybe eat at Applebees once this month, but the bills usually get paid and despite the pitiful savings account balance, our credit score is pretty dang good. We have animals that we’ve kept alive for as long as 12 years. As for morality, we’ve kept from leaving the older child on the side of the road with a sign that says, “Free to Good Home” when he refuses to stop. talking. already. for five consecutive seconds. That’s pretty upstanding, right?

Oh, and I’m 30, going on 31, so I guess I qualify for that adult status, even if I’m not that mature. Also, reading about your Jack Sparrow action figure, I look around and realize that in the last four years, I’ve sort of lost a bit of who I was before the kids, some of the frivilousness and I miss it. I want it back. I do kinda resent that I’ve been forced to grow up a little bit more so that I can be a responsible parent, even if most nights my kid gets a sandwich for dinner and chicken nuggets are actually considered “cooking a hot meal” for him while I spend my dinner feeding the baby and shoveling a french fry or two in my gullet.

I’m hoping it gets better. I felt this way after child #1 and it wasn’t long before I was feeling like maybe I could do the parenthood thing and even get in a little me time now and then to read or work out or get a haircut. So I’m crossing my fingers that it is the same way with having kid #2, and I just have to be patient and wait to get to that point again.

Sara
Sara
14 years ago

I think we’re all clueless. Sure, some people are naturally more patient and easy-going than others, but I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re doing. This both horrifies and fascinates me, because I thought my parents were GOD, thought they knew everything and could make it all better. Now I know they were just flying by the seat of their pants too.

I often think about my life and am still blown away by the fact that I’m married, don’t even get me started on the fact that I also have a KID. I don’t feel grown up enough for any of it.

Diane
Diane
14 years ago

Thank you for this. Sometimes I think all of you parents know exactly what I am doing, and it makes me wonder when/if I will “grow up” and be “ready” to be a parent. So maybe I can do it too!

Diane
Diane
14 years ago

That should say “what you are doing”….

Claudia
14 years ago

It’s all a cosmic joke. Eventually, it’ll seem real. I’m finally used to being known (by some) only as “Madeline’s Mom”. Sigh.

fff
fff
14 years ago

Yes! Every time I feel like i have it all figured out, something knocks me down and makes me realize I don’t have a clue. All I am doing is winging it, muddling through and feeling my way through this obstacle course of motherhood. Some days its fun and I feel confident, but many days I am on autopilot, just trying my best.

Jenny
Jenny
14 years ago

Totally.

Sometimes I think, “They let us take babies home from the hospital? Like, we just HAVE babies and then TAKE them home with us, and that’s all? And we’re supposed to know what to do with them?”

I too cannot believe that I am a mother to two children. I can deal with mother more than being a “mom” to two kids. That is just too strange.

Also, do you ever think if someone were to ask you to name the members of your family and now you would automatically list your husband and kids and it was not so long ago where I would say my mom, dad, sister . . . now I’m all grown up and I still can’t get used to it.

stan
stan
14 years ago

So it’s NOT just men that never grow up! ….or maybe we just indulge ourselves a little more often!!

Michelle
14 years ago

I think this IS the test. I look around at other parents, and think how young I look (am?), too. But mostly I feel it when I look at the college kids and think how young THEY look. And how carefree. And how that is just not me anymore. Not with a toddler underfoot, a mortgage to pay and a job to keep. This is my life. It’s my future. And it’s taking some getting used to.

nonsoccermom
14 years ago

Oh, I TOTALLY feel you on this. My second kid is 10 weeks old today, and I still freak out when I use the plural “my kids”. Of course, my son is 5 and sometimes I still have a hard time believing I’m his mom! It is a huge adjustment, and sometimes I wonder if I’m up to the challenge…

Julie
14 years ago

It seems like every damn day is a test around here sometimes. I’ve decided the trick is to always act like I know what I’m doing, even when most of the time I don’t!

Sara
14 years ago

I feel this way all the time. What’s worse is that my husband and I are in our fairly early twenties, both with a predilection toward dressing sort of punkish and a strange disinclination to observe a rational early-to-bed kind of schedule. Sometimes I think the powers that be are going to slap their foreheads, say, “Whoops!” and give my son to his real parents — the grownups in their thirties who have mortgages and upwardly mobile career paths. Bah.

trena
14 years ago

Totally agree. When my mother was my current age (almost 32), she had an almost 10 year old and just seemed so…old and grown up.

Me at almost 32? Who feels like I can barely manage a 20 month old some days and run a household? Not so much.

I still have to pause and think about it when someone asks me how old I am, because seriously, ’25’ just wants to come tumbling off my tongue and I haven’t been that young for nearly a decade.

I still can’t believe that we not only made another human being (and are in the process of trying for #2) but are completely responsible for him. Blows.My.Mind.

one feisty mama
14 years ago

you nailed it again. you’re good at this. i seem to spend half my life thinking ‘i want to be like (insert name of friend / fellow blogger / random passing stranger) when i grow up.’ i’ve even become prone to badgering said people with questions about how they do it, how they make life look so do-able when most of the time i feel like i’m barely even faking it. how do you run a household budget without blowing it all on trashy mags and cheap red wine? how do you feed a family without sticking to hot dogs and mash or spending 3 days making chicken soup from scratch only to have it pronounced YUCKY. i totally get you. sometimes you’re even the person i want to be when i grow up!

Valria
14 years ago

yes but early twenties Sara, you just used the word predilection which this 43 year old had to look up!

Brooke
14 years ago

Me, too! I’m 33 and still feel fresh out of college. Doesn’t help that I work where I went to school. I have an 8 year old and one on the way and I still don’t feel very put together. You’re not alone!

Sheryl
Sheryl
14 years ago

I am 43, have a 10.5 year old that I’ve been single parenting for 9 years. I’ve been at my job for 15 years.

Other parents trust me with their children. I planned my father’s funeral when my mother and sister couldn’t. I have a mortgage, a 401K, health insurance, and I spend my extra pennies doing wild and crazy things like replacing my garage door and buying a more energy-efficient hot water heater.

In my group of friends, I am the go-to person for practical advice. I’m the one with the prioritized, color-coded to-do list. I’ve got stuff on spreadsheets like you wouldn’t believe. I’m always on time, always prepared. If you’ve forgotten something, I probably have an extra in my bag or in the trunk of my car.

Have a crisis? I will manage things for you while you deal with it. I will make sure you have clean clothes, food in the fridge, plane tickets and places to stay lined up for your relatives. Your house will be clean. Your elderly mother will be driven to her doctor’s appointment. Your kids will have their homework done, will be bathed, and make it to bed early and to school on time.

I always, always vote. Thank you notes are always sent right away and birthday gifts, baby gifts, sympathy cards are never late.

Underneath it all, I feel like I’m 12 inside. A very nerdy, awkward 12. A female Napolean Dynamite. Like, I get really nervous and dorky when I have to talk to someone who is cool–even if they are 20 years younger than I am. I am still waiting to “feel” grown up. I “do” grown up rather well, I think, but it’s like a role I’m playing.

erin
erin
14 years ago

Linda, you are knocking the ball out of the park with these posts about 2 children (here and on PD). I’m a mom to a 2 and a half year old and a 6 month old and I’ve wanted to leave a comment on every one of them they are so good but as I mentioned, I’m a mom to a 2 and a half year old and a 6 month old. Thanks for all of this!

Ang
Ang
14 years ago

I have a ten year old who tries to gank MY CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW action figure off my desk! Also, I’m 34 and still use words like ‘gank’. I’m married for 12 years, mother of 1. I spend my extra cash on shiny new shoes and 401k contributions. I think I’m managing to juggle the inner me and the mom me okay. Except when the kid expect me to be on spider patrol!

Carrie B
Carrie B
14 years ago

I am still wishing the reality switch for being a mom will flip to “on,” and my son is about to turn 18 months. And while I’m asking, I’m also looking forward to the day when I won’t feel so out of breath getting us successfully up, fed, dressed and in the car in the mornings (and I’d settle for just not gasping for oxygen after that brilliant attempt at fun).

There are times I feel like I’m living someone else’s grown up life.

Thanks for the post today. It made me smile.

Stephanie
14 years ago

Thank F*ing god. I thought it was just me who felt that way. My son is 2 1/2…and I still don’t believe I’m his *mom*

MRW
MRW
14 years ago

My son is five years old, I’m in my late 30s, and just yesterday I wondered when I was going to be a “grown up.” It’s strange to realize that although I’m someone’s mother, inside I’m still 12 years old at least half the time. I thought my parents had it together when I was a kid, now I see they were just faking it. Perhaps everyone is faking it and we all have 12 year olds inside? I don’t know, but after all this time, I still can’t believe I’m someone’s mom, wife, responsible employee etc.

Amy
Amy
14 years ago

Seriously, when are the real parents getting home? Because no offense, but these kids are getting kind of annoying. And all the Diet Coke is gone.

brenna
brenna
14 years ago

oh dude, every freaking day. And I have THREE kids.

Dominick Elvin
10 years ago

Nice!