Am I An Adult?
I’m 17 and waking up, groggy and uncomfortable in a hospital room. It’s Christmas morning. I had emergency surgery the night before. I’m alone. I occurs to me that I don’t think I’ve ever been alone in a hospital room. My whole life, I was fortunate to always have a parent with me if I needed medical care. But last night was Christmas Eve, I was recovering from surgery, and there wasn’t much anyone could do, so my parents went home to care for my younger brothers. And now, here I was, alone and miserable on Christmas morning. Is this adulthood?
I’m 22 and climbing out of my fiance’s truck. I know that this is the last time I’ll call him my fiance, and tomorrow I’ll be contacting all of my friends and family to let them know the wedding that was to take place in five weeks will be no more. This decision hurts like no pain I’ve ever known before. But even through the pain, I’m certain that this is the right decision. Maybe now I’m an adult?
I’m 28, dripping in sweat, lying in a hospital bed. After 52 hours of labor and three hours of pushing I’ve just given birth to my first child. She came out purple and we all held our breath waiting for that tell-tale cry of a healthy baby, but it didn’t come. The nurses whisked her away to a table in the corner. As they rub her and intubate her I hear my midwife say – more to herself than to anyone else – “breathe, baby, just breathe!” My heart sinks. Now I know, without a doubt, that I am a mom. Does that mean I’m an adult? Moments (which feels like hours) later we hear a cry, and there is a collective sigh of relief.
I’m 31 and standing in the entryway of a house of a couple I’ve met only a handful of times. I’ve come here to drop off my children – now their children. This will likely be the last time I ever see these three precious ones who we’ve been fostering. I call to the youngest, beckoning him to come hug me goodbye. He’s playing down the hall and doesn’t want to stop and hug me. He’s only two years old. He has no idea that this is goodbye forever. I stuff down and silence the nagging question at the back of my throat which has been tormenting me, “How will he know I didn’t choose to abandon him?” I choke back tears as I call to him again. Am I an adult now? This is the most painful, most adult thing I’ve ever had to do. Surely, this is adulting. I don’t remember if he ever hugged me or not.
I’m 35, and tonight as I sit on my bed typing this post, I hear a ding on my phone and pause to look. The screen fills with a picture of a beautiful baby girl. My former foster daughter gave birth just moments ago. I am filled with … something. Something that I’ve never felt before. Pride, certainly, for my former foster daughter. For her strength and heart. But also honor and humility; that Spirit would use my life in this way, allowing me to play some teeny tiny part in the journey of this young mom and her new daughter. Perhaps what I’m filled with is adulthood. Am I here now? Have I arrived?
This post was written as part of an exercise in which the writers are given a prompt and have one hour to write a response. Tonight’s prompt was “Write about the first time you felt like you were a grown-up.” Be sure to check out the other ChicagoNow bloggers for their take on the topic.
Jasmine is foster parent in the Chicago ‘burbs. She and her husband currently have seven kids living at home including their biological, adopted, and foster children. Follow Jasmine’s Facebook page Close To Home to see more of their everyday adventures.
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