I picked up a last minute, sort of emergency nannying gig for the past week. The parents had already booked a beach-side, gorgeous weather getaway (right in time to avoid the Iowa blizzard) and asked, rather desperately since their other caregiver had fallen through, if I would take their two boys for a few days.
I hesitated at first. But ultimately agreed because a) I knew their boys from working at the local daycare and they were sweet kids and b) because money. And well, they really did need my help.
But as I stepped into my mommy boots and tucked papers that stated I was in charge of any medical decisions for the lives and well-being of these two little guys in my purse, I realized I have no freaking idea how to adult.
Adulting, by definition means that you have on the big-girl panties. You know how to make decisions, you know how to take care of yourself (and in my case, others). You can fund yourself, you can pay bills and cook meals and you have your sh*t together.
Prior to this week, I thought I was golden. I’m a twenty-something with a full-time job and a decent group of friends who pays bills on time, doesn’t max out her credit card, makes a decent salary, pays for rent, and is pretty organized. Yep, I was doing alright.
But when you’re thrown into the whole real world thing, taking care of someone elses’ kids, you realize that you really don’t have it together. In essence, I had suddenly become a single mom. I had to reshape my life around what the kids would want to do, when they’d fall asleep, what ungodly hour of the morning they’d wake me up, and what in the world they would actually eat.
Here is an in-my-head narration of my typical day:
Shoot! What was that? Are they up already? Jeez, what time is it? It’s freaking 6AM?! On our one day off?? Ugh. I better see what they’re doing.
Okay, they’re both up and running around…how does this happen at 6AM? What do they want to eat? Cereal? Do they like milk? What kind? Wow, there’s so many choices.
Okay, I have to get them ready. When does this one have preschool? Oh no, how am I going to get my car unstuck from this snow? I need that shovel. Should they wear boots or gym shoes? Oh no, this one isn’t eating enough. What does he eat?? What does he like? Damn. He’s crying. SOS. What’s wrong? What do I do?
And that’s all before lunchtime.
I suddenly found myself freaking out about everything. I became a full-on mom, stressing about how much each little guy was or wasn’t eating, panicking about them wearing gym shoes with the snow, trying to cook and clean and chase them around to wipe their runny noses all at the same time.
And no matter how hard I tried to keep chapstick on their dry lips, or make sure they took their multivitamins during breakfast, or picked up their loose toys and put them in the chest, or swept the floor, I felt like I was never going to catch up. As soon as I turned around, there was something to fix, clean, wipe, or do. By the end of the night I was so exhausted I was sleeping thirty minutes after I put them down.
I realized, in that moment, that there were a million and a half things I didn’t know about being an adult. And even more things I was now responsible for. I had these little humans in my care 100% of the time. That meant I had to buckle them into their car seats, make sure they ate enough fruits and vegetables, put them to sleep at a decent hour, watch them to ensure they didn’t fall while running around, and somehow get them to brush their teeth before bed time. I had to bring them to where they needed to be. I had to tuck them in. I had to love them as if they were my own kids. And that was terrifying.
I am nowhere near ready for a family of my own. For waking up almost an hour before my typical alarm to get myself and my mini-mes ready, just to be on time. For pre-planning lunches for multiple people, for setting out clothes and shoes and somehow defusing full-blown fits in the morning. For being patient and ignoring 5:30AM bawling. For being tired. All. The. Time.
I am nowhere near ready to love another person so fully that my entire life is changed in relation to theirs—and isn’t that the whole idea of adulting, relationship-wise and child-wise—that your life becomes intertwined with someone else’s? I’m not ready for that.
I’m not ready to put my passions on hold because I have absolutely no free time, and when I finally do at night, I’m too exhausted to do anything else but lay down. I’m not ready to have to think 400 steps ahead, and pre-plan for any potential catastrophe that may or may not occur. I’m not ready to be this calm, collected, unconditionally-loving, sh*t together human. And that scares me.
Yes, I’m young. And no no no. I’m not planning on having a family anytime soon…but the whole adulting thing…how am I going to survive if I’m struggling to get through a week?
But…it’s Thursday. My time with the little dudes is almost over, and I’ve done alright. There’s been one broken toy, one night the boys hated their dinner, and one slip on the ice. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I have to say that my favorite memory of the week is hearing my two-year-old call for me in panic, then see me and run into my arms, his face breaking into this huge, little-kid bliss type of smile.
I might not be adulting just yet, but little moments like that help me know I’m doing okay. I wonder if you ever really stop and think, Yeah, I’m totally adulting right now. Or if it comes slowly, one day at a time, until it’s suddenly a Thursday, everyone’s alive and happy, and you think, Yeah, I’ve got this.