A couple of weeks ago, I inadvertently sliced open the skin below my thumb knuckle with a butcher knife. For a brief moment there was a lightning sear of heat and redness, and then I came to my senses, pinched the wound, and closed my eyes.
Cardinal rule #34 of motherhood: Don’t. Pass. Out.
I leaned over the counter, still pinching my thumb. It had begun to throb in a low, dull pattern. I didn’t dare let go of the skin, but somehow, I needed to get… to reach… to open…
The kitchen began to spin, a kaleidoscope of morning light and the silver gleam of the sink.
I sank, cross-legged, on the cool hardness of the black and white floor.
Don’t pass out. Don’t pass out. You’re the adult here. Lord help us, you’re the adult.
I don’t know why I still get all twitchy about the fact that I’m an adult. I just celebrated another birthday, firmly establishing my place in the mid-thirties set. But somehow, I still want affirmation for doing the grownup things. Moving appliances when I wipe off the counter. Dusting. Sticking to only the items on my grocery list.
For the record, the mid-thirties rock. I mean it. Being a full-blown adult gives me the freedom of accepting, being, parenting, and living as I choose. I love watching my husband grow into new hobbies and skills, and my daughters outgrow their shoes. I love wearing my favorite, worn in clothes and not caring if they’re stylish anymore.
I love being firmly gripped by Grace, every day a brilliant rescue, another reason for gratitude to my Maker.
Still, there’s a part of me that has a hard time believing I’ve been left in charge. It’s like when you babysit for the first time. The grownups leave, the kids stare at you, and the unfamiliar oven and range top you’re supposed to make macaroni and cheese on looks like a nuclear weapon.
Now my own small tribe of pink and ponytails depends on me for almost everything, and some days, that’s the hardest part.
Strangely enough, I don’t ever feel ready for that role… the one role I feel like I should, somehow, innately just get. And yet somehow, motherhood is the role I love. The role I play, day after day, sometimes turning in Oscar-worthy performances, sometimes wanting to hide all day in my dressing room.
The scary part is, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel ready.
Adulting is like that. Just when you finally get accustomed to scrubbing the bathroom sink once a week like a BOSS, you have kids and realize the toothpaste crusted to the basin is something that needs daily attention.
Whine. Sigh. Get the towel. Realize it takes twelve seconds. File it away as a mental note the next time you want to complain. Move on.
Nothing really prepares you for adult life. Nothing except the moments when you simply suck it up and do the work. And nothing you can see, at least, in the dizzying minute when you have to gather, rally, wipe away the blood, and haul yourself back to standing.
It took me a second to stop the spins, sitting there on the kitchen floor, clutching a bloody hand and desperately needing a few band-aids.
Thankfully, help appeared in the form of my four and half year old, who was more than eager to climb on a chair and dig in the coveted medicine cabinet. She emerged a minute later with the first aid box, along with some professional airs about being a nurse.
“OK. Hold still. This might hurt, but just… for a second. There. All better.” She gave my double band-aided thumb a well-meaning pat, which made me suck air like an industrial shop vac and confirmed that I probably needed stitches.
Stitches which I got, thankfully, in the form of glue (God bless those in modern medicine who understand us needle phobes) a few hours later, along with a strong admonition from my husband about trying to cut into a coconut with a butcher’s knife, at-home science project or not.
The YouTube tutorial was wrong. You can’t open a coconut by pounding the exterior with the butt end of a butcher knife. Or the sharp end, either.
Adulting is hard. End of story.
But the next time my daughter plies me with requests for exotic fruit with a hairy but cement-like exterior, I’ll know enough to say no.
That’s something, right?