Being Refined: The World of Adulthood

Recently I was talking to someone (I can’t remember who) and she said something about how she thought she’d be different when she was “grown up”. She thought she’d be a lady. Refined.

Hallelujah! I thought. I’m not the only one.

As a young girl, I used to look at women (AKA any female over the age of twenty) and think they were sooo grown up! The way they seemed to glide through life with confidence and effortlessness, with a handbag that met all of their daily needs.

Flash forward to me at 27. I don’t usually have a handbag on hand as it were. Mostly I carry a backpack with nappies, wipes (occasionally forgetting the wipes), bum cream, bibs, a change of clothes for the baby, a change of warm clothes for a baby in case a sudden arctic wind should come upon us, snacks, wallet, water bottle, some month-old pieces of dried fruit and other child-related paraphernalia.

Most days I’m rushing out the door stuffing extra nappies into the bag, as well as extra pairs of baby pants, only to discover later that I have four pairs of pants and no spare top for when she pours an entire bottle of water over herself.

I’m quite often frazzled, harried and just a touch bit cranky.

I would love to say that my pre-baby days were more ordered, but I’m afraid having a child is only part of it. Prior to the arrival of my offspring, I was quite often frazzled, harried and a touch bit cranky. Quite often carrying a backpack with everything I needed EXCEPT that which I would need to use.

Apparently I didn’t wake up one day and become “grown up”. At least, not the version of grown up that I thought I would be. I still get anxious when parking a car if other cars build up behind me. Sometimes I do the old “I was just leaving anyway” runner. A quick wave of the hand and red flush of the face. Cursing to myself as I see an enormous 4WD sail into the spot.

I don’t often wear make up. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing I used to think women woke up looking that pristine. Effort, you say? Don’t be absurd! Thank goodness for those trash magazines at the checkout that show celebs at their worst. I don’t mean to revel in your saggy bottoms and wrinkles, celebs. But it at least gives the rest of us a glimmer of hope.

Anyhow, sans make up I probably look about eighteen. Maybe younger. I’m also rather short, which renders me incapable of looking like a fully-fledged adult.

I thought my hair would be smoother. I don’t know why. Maybe I watched too much TV. In any case, grown up ladies seem to have smooth hair. Mine is a frizzed, half-hearted attempt at a bun. The wispy bits don’t seem to help the cause. I look about fifteen. If appearance is 9/10ths of the law, I’m underage.

Another phenomenon of the “grown up woman” image I had created is working in the corporate sector. For some unknown reason, I had always pictured a grown up woman dressed in heels and business attire. What was I thinking? Death to heels on a weekday!

I’ve never had any inclination to work in the corporate sector (not saying I’d rule it out completely), but the attire itself is enough to send me running scared. I wouldn’t put that much effort into a face of makeup for a visit to a nightclub. I’m sure I’d be the girl who’s madly trying to apply make up on the train, sending mineral foundation in every direction, including my un-ironed business shirt.

The closest I’ve ever come to corporate attire is when we convinced our boss we should have a proper collared shirt for meetings. Snazzy. Somehow I felt way too casuola wearing Dunlop volleys, a polo shirt and jeans to a meeting.

Strangely I perceived the corporate grown-up woman to then forgo her city-slicking attire for the mumsy world of trackie-dacks and food-stained clothing when entering the world of motherhood. Evidently I skipped right to that stage.

But alas, I’m STILL not a “grown up” woman. I didn’t get the memo that mums now have to wear fitness clothing everywhere they go. “And here you are, Mrs Smith. A copy of your next antenatal appointment and your dress code for motherhood”.

I’m utterly confused. Unless I have a pram with a coffee cup and some Lorna Jane tights with matching inspirational t-shirt, I’m failing epically at motherhood. Or so it seems. I think it’s great to see mums getting out and about and fit, but is this some bizarre disguise? I feel that in most cases it is. Like the “cyclist” who spends his weekend morning wearing Lycra, sipping coffee and perusing the newspaper at a local cafe. Sometimes I’d like to pose as the fitness police… “Excuse me, madam. Where are the scuff marks on your training shoes? Do you have a license to wear those tights outside of the gym?”

I know, I know. I recently got myself some Nike joggers. Baa. They are BRIGHT ORANGE. Apparently there is no such thing as plain-coloured joggers anymore. Nothing says “I’m fit” like a pair of loud joggers.

Here’s the thing: I’m not fit. But boy are they comfy! (Cue Nike sponsorship!). I went for a big walk the day after I got them. You know how you do that. Better get my money’s worth!

I walked a fair distance with toddler in pram, and then realised I also had to get back. Uh oh. All of my energy had been exerted in getting there. To make matters worse, it was starting to get a bit fresh and the baby was not dressed for cold weather.

So I started to make my way back. Part of the journey was downhill. I began to run. Through no choice of my own. Physics would have it that the pram dragged me along like a can on the back of a “Just Married” car. I clung to the pram for dear life, feeling more disconnected from my body than I’ve ever felt. My bottom felt like saggy lead. Is that even possible? It moved in its own direction directions.

My milk-makers were not used to this kind of activity. What was it called again? Running. Well, jogging if I’m honest. My bra was ill-equipped. It’s feeding-friendly, definitely not exercise-friendly!

I made it home in a shaky and semi-delirious state. Where am I? Bring me my food! Not to worry toddler, I’ll get it myself.

The next day I woke after apparently having been severely physically assaulted in my sleep. Oh wait. That’s the after-feeling of exercise. I managed to wobble my legs out of bed and spent the rest of the day wincing every time I moved.

Another thing I expected to wake up one day and find renewed and refined was my demeanor. Cool, classy and well-spoken is how I thought I’d turn out. Heaven knows why. I laugh loudly. Really loudly. Occasionally with a snort if you’re lucky.

I find inappropriate things funny. This part is inexplicable. Sometimes when I deliver bad news, a smile will play on my lips. I cannot explain it. I suspect nervousness plays a part. I’d make an excellent funeral director. “Mr Jones was *stifles giggle* a selfless and *roars into incontrollable laughter*…”.

I talk too much. I rabbit on. You hadn’t noticed? I know, I seem so reserved and all.

I pull ugly faces. Not always on purpose. I’m the type of person who needs to smile in photos. No, really I do. I suffer from Bitchy Resting Face and quite often a politically incorrect term of resting face too. Suffice to say I can look a bit odd without trying. I remember one of my über helpful friends asking me, “Ahh!! What was that face you were just doing?” and then imitating it back to me. Didn’t even know I was doing “a face”. I thought I was just doing my face.

The worst time for sufferers of the ugly blank face has to be when getting a drivers licence photo or passport photo. Purposefully they try to make you look bad, I swear. One of my colleagues told me I looked like a Colombian drug-smuggler in my drivers licence photo. My passport photo isn’t even me. A pasty toad sat in my place.

Some days I catch sight of myself in the mirror and think, “What?! That’s not what I look like!”. Don’t worry though, I’m not some victim of women’s portrayal in the media. Sometimes I catch my reflection and think, “Not bad. It had to be today, didn’t it? It had to be the sitting-at-home-doing-nothing day that my hair and face naturally look like that”.

Anyway, back to being a “grown up”. I’m pretty sure real grown ups don’t even say “grown up”. I think they call it an adult. If you think having a child will automatically make you feel grown up, think again mother flubber! Never have you felt so inexperienced and stupid as when you have a child to raise. I can be honest and admit there are times when I couldn’t work out what was wrong with my newborn, only to finally think of changing her nappy. (I think we’ve touched on sleep deprivation before).

All in all, after much contemplation, I’ve decided that being a “grown up” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. With all the responsibilities involved, it’s all anyone can do to survive, let alone exist in a refined manner.

So, to a refined, grown up adulthood, all I can say is: “I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us. It’s not you. It’s me”.

unsplash-logoPete Bellis


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