There are a number of things that have surprised me about adulthood, but the most unexpected has been the lingering suspicion that I totally suck at it. Surely other adults, particularly fellow parents, don’t experience that niggling feeling that they are merely imposters? Sure, we manage to keep our household running smoothly, and our kids don’t seem to be turning out to be assholes-in-training, but sometimes I feel that I’ve severely missed the mark. When I look back at my first models of adulthood—my parents—I feel confident that they did a hell of a lot better job than I am doing. In fact, it’s quite possible that I could be considered an actual failure as an adult. I’ve broken down my incompetence as follows:
1. I rarely dust, and when I do, I do a half-assed job. I don’t move stuff around, I just dust what’s visible so that when my parents visit, it looks like I dusted.
2. I don’t change my sheets often enough, or those of my children. Gross, I know.
3. There is a pile of boxed food from Costco sitting on the dining room floor at all times. It’s not in the pantry because we don’t have one. Someday we’ll have someone build us one, but right now we’re too tired and don’t give a shit.
4. I don’t plan out different, nutritious snacks for my kids to eat in the afternoon. In fact, I usually forget to feed them any snacks at all, until my seven-year-old asks me if she can have a granola bar. Then I tell her to go get one from the Costco box on the floor of the dining room.
5. I can’t change a tire. I am utterly inept at spatial skills and mechanical reasoning, which has nothing to do with my age or maturity, so I kind of don’t care about this one.
6. I don’t wash my windows. Hardly ever. Ditto for bathroom mirrors.
7. I don’t have any curtains. Don’t real grown-ups have curtains, even cheap ones purchased from Kmart or a thrift store? We just have the blinds that came with our house.
8. I don’t clean out the leftovers in the fridge nearly often enough. Which is likely due to a bigger problem, the fact that I don’t promptly eat said leftovers, thereby wasting food.
9. I often forget to clip my children’s fingernails and toenails promptly.
10. I never remember to clean the oven. Or the microwave.
When I look back on the efficient, well-oiled machine that was my childhood household, I don’t remember as much chaos, scrambling, and disorder. Were my parents ever exhausted or irritable? Was at least one person sick all the f*cking time like my family is now? (Don’t you dare blame our persistent colds on our streaked windows or soup-splattered microwave.) Were swear words uttered, and too many TV shows viewed? I don’t believe my brother or I ever had fingernails (or toenails) that would’ve been considered an unfair advantage in The Hunger Games.
Have my husband and I totally failed at adulthood? Is there some sort of remedial class we need to take? During the most hectic of mornings, when my house looks like it threw itself up and we haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days, I often beat myself up for not having it all together. I might have been patting myself on the back for not having missed the school bus, but then I remember that I haven’t scrubbed that tile area behind the kitchen faucet… ever.
But maybe when my brother and I were little, our bedroom floors were littered with puzzle pieces and Happy Meal toy parts. Maybe we’d eaten hot dogs three times already in one week. Maybe the kitchen trash was overflowing.
And perhaps 20 years from now, my children won’t remember the fact that the bathtub toys were never put away. Perhaps they’ll have forgotten the kitchen chair backs that were constantly streaked with squeezy-yogurt. I hope they remember the snuggling, the laughing, and the “I love you so much”s instead.
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Stephanie, I keep telling myself this too, because I too don’t dust or change my sheets often enough. Trust me you aren;t alone and would love to know how those women who can do it all and then come home and clean, too. I am just too tired most nights when I would have the time and need sleep. But that said, just know it isn’t just you and fingers crossed our kids won’t remember the messes, as much as the remember the hugs and all the love we give them.
Thanks so much for that, Janine! I’m happy to know I’m not alone !
OHMIGOD, so we WERE separated at birth! Not just the list (with the exception of #10 only) but every single word in this post resonated so much with me! You have no idea how often I ask myself, whether my mom was ever as irritable as I am and if so how come I have NO recollection of it. I constantly feel like an imposter whose cover is about to be blown. This was such a wonderful mix of humour and seriousness and youness. <3
Yay! I love more reminders that we are twinsies! 🙂 And thank you so much for that…
If I’ve mentioned this to you before simply ignore it or dismiss it as another case of early onset. The best piece of advice I ever got from a friend re parenting was “your kids won’t remember whether your house was clean or not but they will remember what you did with them.”
Thank you for your honest and upfront post. My house is remarkably similar. So delightful when my kids’ friends would say “let’s play tic-tac-toe on the table.” They didn’t need paper. The dust was just fine …
Ah, you can give me that gorgeous advice any day of the week, Kelly, and I’ll appreciate it anytime. Thanks for that. 🙂
I love this because if you suck at being an adult, so do I. I am right there with you with 1-10 (I’m pretty good at #8 though). But, I think you’re right. When you’re little, you don’t notice your own finger nails being long, or the fact that there are 534 things on your floor in your bedroom. Your focus is fun and getting attention. Which gives me a lot to think about since I have been having this nagging feeling that I need to de-clutter the entire house and purge so that we can all relax a little bit more. The way I’m failing as an adult is probably by the fact that I feel like I’m constantly spinning my wheels. I currently have a half painted room, and decided to start a new project of cleaning out all the kids clothes which are now sitting in a pile in my dining room. Sigh.
Oh, the constant wheel spinning. Yes, I’m familiar with that one. I so appreciate the solidarity!
Omg me too. The wheel never stops spinning. I have half done projects all over this house. I just noticed that I haven’t been dusting the top of the fireplace mantel. I just realized I have miscellaneous splash marks on my top kitchen cabinets. There are crumbs everywhere. I vaccuum and sweep….but yet still fail at keeping the floor crumb-free. I am also so tired…but I let my kids build pillow forts in the living room and jump around on the clean clothes I left all over the lounge chair for days now.
I also have diaper boxes/wipes boxes on the floor. We just pull a diaper out when we eed one. Lol. We have a half done pantry. It used to be where a pipe ran through the house. We cut out a door and shoved a cheap bookcase in there ‘for now’. We did that two years ago. It is not a very efficient pantry. Real shelves would double the storage in there.
The kids dropped a heavy toy on our ceramic tile and cracked it into a thousand sharp pieces. We disn’t have any replacement tiles so we had to pry them all out ad break ul the cement underneath. Then we just left the subfloor as is. We’ve had a box of floating floor that skmewhat ressembles the floating floor in the living room. We intended on installing it in that small section where the ceramic tile was destroyed. The box is still sitting in our unfinished mudroom closet – a closet I decided to pain the interior of all the same colour so that it wouldn’t be as noticeable that it is incomplete.
Half the backs of my stairs (the risers) are painted black because I wanted to see what chalk paint would look like on there. It turns out it will look nicer if the risers didn’t have so many dents. I am still not sure what to do with them. Lol
I could honestly make a list of 100 reasons I think I am faking being an adult. Maybe more.
Curtains. Nope, we don’t have them either, and I find it a great comfort that someone else out there doesn’t either.
To return the comfort favor, I will let you know I will soon be going to bed and my kitchen is a complete wreck. Dirty dishes everywhere. I stuffed the good in the fridge, and I’ll face the rest tomorrow.
Thank you- I am absolutely comforted by that. 🙂
Ok, you are describing me, too. Maybe our generation of moms/parents are just like this. I don’t remember my parents getting as exasperated with me and my sister as I seem to get, either, but neither do I remember ever snuggling with my mom on her bed. So there’s that.
Thanks, Estelle! I think you are right about the generational thing- I am sensing a theme here amongst the commenters, and I’m feeling much better!
This. SO MUCH this 🙂
Also, didn’t they invent the cheap/throw-away plastic containers so that you didn’t even have to OPEN the scary leftovers from last month? Er…I mean…not that I’m wasting containers AND food. I’m just saying, it seems like a valid use for those things.
YES! You are so right. 🙂 That’s why we use our old Noosa yogurt containers! 😀
Steph its the end result that counts dear!
You are a loving parent and that is what they will remember 🙂
the last pix was adorable!
That’s you in that outfit? OMG I adore you. I laughed my ass off at this whole thing but most especially, somebody already did build us a pantry and we still have Costco crap all over the floor next to it because who cares. We’re tired too.
Also, in case you were wondering, hot dogs three times a week is doing really well. I mean, what else will they eat? Freaking more chicken nuggets???
this was beyond hilarious.
You made me smile with that comment- thank you!!! Frickin’ Costco… and yeah, there more 1980s fashion gems where that came from, baby…
I’m guilty of at least half of those. In fact, I’ve never cleaned an oven in my life. I have no idea how. If you’re interested in learning how to change a tire, though, it’s really easy. I wrote a how-to blog post about it once (search for “damsel in distress”).
I might have to read that post- maybe if I read it 20 times in a row it might sink in!
I’m such a neat freak that at first, my thought was that I should come over and clean up for you! But then, your last few lines put everything in perspective, and now I feel kind of guilty about worrying too much about it. My mom’s like that – she never lets clutter bother her, and growing up, it was never something I noticed.
🙂 Thanks Tarana!
All those things are true for us too. I remember having a messy and cluttered house growing up but I also remember having parents who always had time for me and my brother. My mom had a sign up in her house that said “a spotless house is a sign of a life misspent.” However as we’ve recently had our 4th baby I decided to hire some help in cleaning. They come once a month to clean the kitchen and bathrooms and it has made a huge difference!
Also we have curtains (they came with the house) and one particularly destructive weekend one of the kids/dog pulled every single curtain rod out of the wall. So curtains are way overrated:) We still haven’t gotten around to fixing most of them so our house looks awesome! (There needs to be a sarcasm font;)
That curtain story cracked me up, and YES, somebody should totally invent a sarcasm font. Brilliant! 😉
Love it! And I’m with you 100%. My mother’s favorite phrase is “you can tell how good a mother a woman is by how dirty her oven is.” If that’s true I deserve some kind of award.
If you’re falling at adulthood because of those things, then I haven’t even reached the level of adulthood. Not only do I not do any of those things, I don’t have a kid or a house or a husband…I haven’t even had the same job for a year.
I think you’re doing just fine.
Thanks, and meh- adulthood is overrated! 😉
Well, based on your list, I’m failing too because I have all the same things – except the Costco pile because we do have a pantry (but it is filled with junk and terribly disorganized!). I reflected on my parents, too. I don’t remember them being so busy and stressed when I was younger either. I think things are just different these days – we just go at a faster pace. And, maybe, we just don’t remember all the chaos which gives me hope that my children will mostly remember the good stuff, too!
I think that must be right- the chaos gets buried in the midst of all the happy memories! Here’s hoping…
We are living parallel lives over here! The only one…and I mean the ONLY one I am sort of okay at is the nail clipping. (and mostly that’s because Bobby is old enough to do his own so I only have one set to worry about, and Lucy reminds me when they need doing) LAWD. (I do have two rooms with curtains…but they came with the house when we bought it. Other than those, nada) Hopefully 20 years from now the kids won’t remember…or if they do they will think it’s just normal. 😀 –Lisa
Thanks Lisa! I am feeling so much better reading these comments!
The only thing that is different at my house is that we have a pantry, but if we had to build it ourselves it would never, ever get done. We have the empty Costco boxes on the floor because the kids like to pretend they are boats or trains or book nooks, and I kick them to the side when I vacuum. The box situation makes it look like we’re in the process of moving in. We’ve been here five years.
We may not act like grown-ups, but I like granola bars and the clean line of a window without curtains. Mediocrity feels good around these parts! 😉
Can we make a T-shirt that says, “Mediocrity feels good around these parts?” We’d be rich. Let me know if you want in on that! 😉 Thanks Amy!
Brilliant that we are both failing adulthood in the same manner. I am probably one of the few who will admit to forgetting to change the sheets, wash the windows or dust. Which is kind of gross when you see the dust more then the photos.
This could be my list, too! Just swap out “Costco boxes” for “vacuum cleaner” (we don’t have anywhere to put it downstairs, so it just sits in the dining room). And add “hardly ever mops kitchen floor” which is really gross, since my kids are still at the age where they eat off it.
Curtains (and really hanging anything on the walls) are the bane of my existence, too. We lived in our last house for 8 years, and I never managed to buy any. It’s just so complicated and expensive. When we bought our current house in October, I vowed – on my blog, so with witnesses – that I would have curtains up by the end of the year. I’m hoping I didn’t specify which year. I went to World Market fully intending to buy. But they didn’t have the size I needed, so I kind of gave up on the entire concept.
I think my mom is pretty horrified. She just cannot understand why I don’t invest the time, energy and money to make my house a showpiece. It might just be her personality, but I’ve seen more in the media lately (eg., “All Joy and No Fun”) about how in general, our moms’ generation felt their duty was to keep the house clean, while we feel our duty is to entertain/nurture/spend quality time with our kids.
My mom worked when I was growing up, and would spend every Saturday morning doing laundry, scrubbing the kitchen floor, etc. Sometimes she would have my sister and I vacuum or dust, but usually we would just sit in front of Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, etc. for like 4 hours. I can’t imagine doing this with my kids now – whether it’s because I just don’t want to or feel societal pressure that I shouldn’t/can’t – but didn’t think twice about it when I was a kid.
Sorry for the long comment! Somehow your posts always make me feel like I’m in a therapy session. : )
I am reading All Joy and No Fun right now, and I totally agree with you on that one. I read another comment from someone about the differences in our generations, and I think that plays a big role. I think many of us who are parenting young children now feel that we can never measure up. At least I do. Thank you so much for such an insightful comment. And hearing that my posts make someone feel like they are in therapy is maybe the best compliment ever. For real. 🙂
Wow….that outfit….just wow. Reminds me there’s a photo floating around somewhere of me and my brother in matching outfits that my mother crocheted. We look like little Russian orphans or something. Someone took the crochet needle from her after that.
Love you take on this! Each one I read I was like, oh shit – me too! You’re not alone in your sucking-o-motherhood, but it’s totally not sucking! It’s normal. The sheets – UGH. The snacks – I’m awful. Clipping nails….I let them chew them off. haha!
Yeah, that outfit kind of takes your breath away, no? Sort of like the baby on Seinfeld. Thanks for the validation, Beth!
Thanks for sharing this. You just made me feel a whole lot better that some of your list is also my list, if I’d written one (it would be longer) of the ways I fail at ‘doing’ adulthood 🙂
Thanks Lizzi! Glad it was comforting… if not slightly idiotic!
I can relate to seven of your ten, so I guess I’ve failed as an adult as well! 🙂 I like to think it’s because we have more important things to do with our families than worry about those things, don’t you agree?
I do agree, Teresa! Thanks!
I am terrible at washing my sheets and towels. I like to blame it on the fact that I have to use $6 in quarters every load but it’s really just because i am lazy!
Laundry sucks. There’s no getting around that fact. :p
OMG I loved this post – and hooted throughout it. Don’t you remember the ham patties we had constantly? They were in a can and probably horrible, but you and Brian ate them and didn’t seem to mind. I absolutely loved the last picture – a true assessment of adulthood – loving your children and providing them a safe, supportive home.
I have no recollection of that food, but it sounds disgusting.
My 13 year old thinks it’s funny to remind me that he could blackmail me by telling my mother that I only wash his sheets every other month…or when I remember which means I bought him new sheets in December and washed them for the first time last week…ewww. He’s a stinky boy too! Oh well.
Ohhhh! So you’re one of the hosts! Crap. Now I have to go back and edit my post. Wait…can I get a free pass since it’s my first time? Pretty please? I’ll do it right the next time. I promise. 🙂
In other news, I suck at being an adult as well. Dusting? Nope. Not gonna happen. Cleaning mirrors? Uhh…eventually. Microwave? Yea, right.
I already know my parents weren’t perfect so it’s possible I am doing slightly better as an adult than they did. I dunno. All I know is that I try to avoid being responsible and doing the shit adults are supposed to do but it keeps sneaking up on me. *sigh*
Pfft, who cares? Don’t even worry about it. Just glad that you joined us! And glad mine isn’t the only sloppy-joe spattered microwave. (True story.)
I just have to say thank you for this one – now I know I’m in good company – sounds like a lot of us are in the same boat. 🙂
Yes, I think we’re in great company!
What I noticed when I looked at the photos of your now family is that there are lots of smiles! Really. I noticed that first before all the stuff on the table in the first one. And the last one. Good lord, happy, sweet, lovely family. They will remember this stuff more. Great post. I really loved the pics alongside the words.
Thanks, Rachel, I really appreciate that!
We had a robbery in our neighborhood this week and a policeman came to my door to ask if we noticed anything odd. “Does your house look rummaged through?” Inwardly, I laughed and laughed because when does our house not look like that? I remember the I love yous from my childhood and was surprised to see mildew on the tiles in a photo of me and my sister taking a bath from long long ago.
Ha! My dad used to barge into my room when I was a teenager and say, “Has anybody called the police?” So perhaps I’m just an innate slob. :p That mildew photo story is tremendously comforting.
(((HUGS YOU TIGHT))) you are awesome and real. I rather visit your house than the house of someone who wants things perfectly in it’s place an is neater than an angel’s butt. Seriously, motherhood is messy, crazy, hectic and busy…motherhood is real you rock babe.
Aw, thanks Karen. I appreciate that. 🙂 xo
I can completely relate to 9 of these reasons.
Why 9? Because I do know how to change a tire. Fate and a deer made me learn.
Can you teach me? 🙂
Love! Thank you for making us all feel normal. I can definitely relate to squeezy yogurt dried to chairs 😉
I’m always here to make people feel more normal about their yogurt messes! 😉 And many other things!
I think things are so much tougher now, Stephanie. You have to be a parent 24/7 and you are always on. When I was growing up, we went out to play for hours at a time, usually every evening and weekend. My mother didn’t need to schedule play dates or keep an eagle eye on us all the time, because the world wasn’t such a scary place. What really matters is not the dust, or the curtains, but that you love your children. At least your Costco stuff is in a box so you know where to send the kids when they are hungry for snacks.
I think you are 100% right about this being a challenging era to parent in- the generational aspect of my “failure” is starting to come into clearer focus. Thanks for your comment!
HAHA! Loved every word. Your opening paragraph just summed up exactly how I feel on a daily basis. I nodded a total of ten times while reading your List of Ten. My house and your house must be soul mates, because you couldn’t get a more accurate description than ‘looks like it threw itself up’ LOL! Love that you shared the photo of you in your WTF outfit!!
Thanks Lizzi! I had to laugh when I thought of that throwing itself up bit. It seemed sadly accurate! 🙂
1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10. Same here. I’m also a failure as an adult because I keep getting laid off just as I’m getting on top of my bills…
OK, phew! If my “blog twin” was a success at all my failures, I’d have to really start second-guessing myself! 😉 Thanks, friend!
This is so funny and so true. I try to stay on top of things, but I just can’t. Yesterday I noticed mold growing in my daughter’s sippy cup straw. I don’t even understand how that happened. I also feed my family questionable leftovers. No one has gotten sick yet, so I’m going to keep doing it (and feeling like a bad parent as I do it). I also use the t.v. as a babysitter way too much. That’s the thing that makes me feel the worst as a parent. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s good to know that I’m not alone!
You are NOT alone! 🙂 Thank you!
I haven’t even finished this yet and I’m dying!!! The only thing on the list that didn’t apply to me was the curtains on the windows in our house and that is ONLY because the previous owners left the curtains! Ok, I’m going back to read the rest.
Oh my gosh, this is SO funny. I feel the exact same way. I really do, sadly, believe that I’m a failure as a parent. I wonder how many moms feel that way. But I don’t think my mom had her act together either. She was a single mom and we were always missing one of my sister’s shoes and our house was a huge mess all the time. And our clean laundry never made it into the drawers.
Oh and I NEVER dust. I have a picture I just took the other day since we started staging our house of our hutch with all the visible dust. I’m saving it for a blog post about my pigdom or something.
I am feeling SO much better now. Seriously.
Well in our 2014 defense, back in the day there weren’t microwaves to clean. There weren’t leftovers because there wasn’t an easy way to reheat – you might as well cook again. There was no Cotsco, and snacks were pudding cups, fruit cocktail and raisins. Well at least that’s how it was for me 😉 When you turn 40 something, you’ll change your sheets as often as you sweat through them because sweat is like a pee spot.
Hey, that’s a great point about the microwaves- thanks! 🙂
Uh-oh. If that list is the criteria for failure as an adult – as my kids would say, Epic Fail! I do have a pantry, but it is littered with huge Costco food boxes, on the shelf and the floor.
Epic Fail indeed! Thanks, Allie! 🙂
I don’t what part of this post I like more – the fact that you keep boxes from Costco on your dining room floor (me too) or that singlet-like outfit you are wearing in that photo. And your brother’s Bill Cosby sweater – oh lord. I know that wasn’t the point of your post, but I am giggling over the visuals.
You’re not a failure, Stephanie – you’re like the rest of us. The moms who claim they aren’t are lying 🙂
The Bill Cosby sweater- ha! I think my “decades” post for next FTSF may have more of these goodies… Thanks so much for that comment, Dana. 🙂
I can’t stop laughing at the photos. Especially the stirrup onesie. LMAO
I know-classic, right?
I’m glad you put it in the correct perspective. By those standards, I’m failing too. 😉
Thank you. REALLY needed this. Have many Stepford-esque neighbours/friends and I seriously have questioned my ability to run a household effectively.
There’s a lot of love in my house though 🙂
I’m glad you found this post, and that it resonated with you! You are not alone. 🙂 Welcome to the club!
I still wear pony tails. I haven’t changed my sheets or the kids since August. (truth) I just swore this afternoon. We lived on stouffer’s mac and cheese all weekend. My kid eats lunchable almost every day for his lunch. I totally laugh at inappropriate things- and am known for doing and saying things that TOTALLY crosses the line. (Who does that at age 47?)
There’s a few to make you feel all better. lol
I’ve been having the same thoughts but I’m not sure “running a perfect household” equals “being an adult”. I walk into my house and think “How is it possible that I actually own this thing? I’m just a kid!” I am 47 but when I look in the mirror I see my 20-year-old free spirit self in the same jeans/sweater/hair that I wore then (minus the 80’s ridiculousness), not a “grown-up” like those that owned houses when I was a kid. I definitely feel dwarfed by the immensity of homeowner/parent responsibility. I think it’s definitely a generational shift from a time when kids were kids and parents were adults. Kids were expected to respect adults, exist independently and entertain themselves while adults took care of their own responsibilities. Clothing, hairstyles, and behavior supported a very clearly “adult” look. I never saw my mom in a ponytail and sweats. She was either in a nightgown/bathrobe or “done up”. Now we take on the responsibility for being with our kids 24/7, we dress alike, we talk to them like equals. We wonder why we can’t be perfect homemakers – because we are ALWAYS with our kids (when we are not working outside the home). Our whole world and culture has blurred the lines between adults and kids – and there is both good and bad associated with that. But if you are supporting yourself and your family, you are an adult! Also, as an aside, I am SO glad to hear I’m not the only one with month-old sheets and no curtains!
So, I will be 50 this year and no one is allowed in my house because of the mess. I watch hoarders now and then to feel better (at least my house isnt that bad) and get a kick in the pants to clean up. My 2 story foyer has been half painted for 7 years. The garbage can is emptied when it overflows. We all know clean dishes are in the dishwasher, just like clean clothes are in the laundry basket, possibly even folded. I have 3 dogs and 1 boy,7, so lego and fur everywhere. I can change a tire. Living down south, everyone else’s home is spotless. Not mine. Don’t even get me started on the backyard, a mess of weeds. Did I mention that part of my hair is dark blue? Blaming it on a midlife crisis, hasn’t been blue since I was 19. Sheets being changed? Atl east they are washed in hot water.
I grew up in a perfect house and my mother was constantly stressed about cleaning and organizing, my friends described my home as a museum, not in a good way, it was so ridiculous that we had two armchairs in our living room for years that we never knew reclined, my husband was the first to ever recline them, when we asked my mother what was up she told us she didn’t want us wearing out the chairs?! So I decided to be a mom that doesn’t stress about cleaning, does my house look like a disaster sometimes? Yes, it does, but my kids always have friends over and they can use the furniture as intended.
Thank you for this. I have felt like this for a long time. I feel so much better about myself and my life at times. Anytime I start to feel this way, I will read this and know that it’s going to be okay.
Yes! Someone who gets me! I think we live the same life (name included)!
What a great article…I can breathe easy now. I just turned 62 and I am a mother of one beautiful daughter and Grandma to a special little 5 year old named Autumn. By now you would have thought I’d have “grown up” but I don’t see that in my future. You’ve provided the perfect list for me…Dust! Those shelves are too high for me and no one can see the dust anyway….can they? At least the food in the refrigerator has not grown green mold…yet. Ah, life is too short to be so concerned. Onward, “failed” adults. We are a success.