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Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Aha Moment...I'm a grown up

I didn't have your typical college life.  I attended community college for two years after graduating high school before transferring to a university that was only an hour's drive from home. 

I lived in an on campus suite my first semester.  It was designed for four but there were only two of us so we each had our own room and plenty of room to spread out. 

Still, I went home every weekend.  My mother is the most giving person on the planet and she was still graciously doing my laundry.  I know, I know.  

The next year I lived in an on campus apartment with four teeny tiny bedrooms,  a small living room/kitchen and one bathroom for four girls!  Needless to say, I still went home every weekend.  Mainly to keep tabs on my boyfriend at the time, who had a tendency to stray.

And of course, to have my laundry done.  

The last year I didn't even bother staying down there at all.  I commuted, driving my little 10 year old blue Mazda to its final death and demise.  My gracious mother allowed me to drive her big red Thunderbird until I graduated that May. 

In April, just weeks before I graduated, I met Darin, on my 23rd birthday.  I knew I was going to marry him almost from the very beginning and finally said goodbye to the boyfriend with the wandering eye.  

After graduating I still had no clue what I wanted to do with my life since I had already decided that a career in law enforcement was not for me.  Here I was with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and no career prospects in sight.  

I wasn't feeling very much like a grown up.

I did find a job pretty quickly, as a receptionist in a chiropractor's office.  The chiropractor had a bad temper and smoked like a chimney and I knew there had to be more to life than this.  I mean, really, I went to school four years for this?    

It lasted about three months.  Maybe not quite that long.  

I had, luckily, saved enough money to make a couple of months' payments on my brand new red Mustang I had bought after graduating and found a job in the finance business that September. 

I continued to live with my mother (who, yes, was still doing my laundry!) though I spent several nights a week at Darin's house. We got married after three years of dating and I finally started doing my own laundry but did I feel like a grown up yet?

Not really.  

We had Devin after two years of marriage so now I was a wife and a working mother but I can't recall a defining moment during that time that said, "you're a grown up now!" 

Darin was a handle it kind of person so I never felt like I was facing the great big world on my own.  If I had a problem, I called him and he would fix it.  

The day after Devin turned four years old, Dracen was born.  Look out world, the Dracenator has arrived!  I was now doing more laundry than I ever cared to do, sleep deprived and a little cranky most of the time, but my family (the one I'd dreamed of) was complete.  

Still...I had not had my Aha moment that told me I had arrived as a bonafide grown up.   
Five months later when the doctor in the ER told me they had done everything they could do to save him but my husband had not survived,  I was in shock.  

I first threw myself to the hospital floor and pitched a little fit like my mother said I used to do when I was a kid and didn't get my way.  As if that would change God's mind and send Darin back to us.  It didn't work.  

Pat (my MIL) stayed the night with us for 3 months after he died so I still wasn't doing it all on my own.  But when her 3 month leave of absence was over and she had to go back to work, the panic set in.

Oh dear Lord, this is it.  I'm going to be on my own for the very first time in my life....with a house to take care of and two little boys to raise.  

Yeah.  That was most definitely the moment I realized I was officially a genuine, bonafide grown up.  I was about to turn 33 years old and I finally felt like a grown up.  
I proved to myself that I had a lot more in me than I had ever given myself credit for and while those (almost) five years of being a single mom were five of the hardest of my life thus far, they taught me so much about me.... the strong, fiery ,determined, handle it side of me, who was there all along.

And now, as I'm happily remarried to another handle it kind of man and approaching my 40th birthday in just five days, I can look back on those years and feel proud...proud that I handled it, proud that I survived it, and proud that I know I have what it takes to be an official gen-u-ine, bonafide grown up...

who still hates doing the laundry. 


This post was written in response to Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt... The moment I realized I was a grown up.


  1. I'm speechless. I had no idea you'd lost your first husband. (Of course, I really don't know you, so I shouldn't be shocked.) I can't imagine how devastating that was. Wow.
    Thank goodness for your MIL; maybe it helped her to be with you during that time too...?
    Anyway - I am SO glad that life is good for you now. I really enjoy your blog.

  2. I'm sorry that you have been through such a huge loss- but I'm glad the grown- up you came out stronger for it. I stopped by from Writer's Workshop- I really, really enjoyed this post!!

  3. Beautifully written! I can't imagine a more defining "I'm a grown up moment" than that one. Your story is so inspiring! I can't imagine being able to handle it like you did. I know there is no other choice, but I can't imagine EVER having to be that strong!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story-I honestly can NOT imagine losing my husband. I'll remember this when I'm nagging him about SOMEthing!

  5. I remember being 21, pregnant and living with my first sons dad (who soon disappeared) and having a car accident. He was working and wouldn't leave to get me, my parents were both working and COULDN'T get there to be with me...and I stood in pouring rain, baby bump and all crying as the tow truck driver hooked up my mustang and the paramedic kept trying to get me to lay down on the stretcher. I felt alone, and very much a grown up in that moment.

    Thankfully car was mended easily, loser baby Daddy left the state and my parents took me and babe in, but I was independent more after that than ever before. Oh, and the baby was fine. It was a minor fender bender. Somebody knocked into me while I was stopped at a red light.

  6. Oh my gosh... I did not see it coming. At all. (which, on one hand, is a kudos to your writing...) but on the other hand my heart is just throbbing for you. I can't imagine... YOU are amazing. YOU did amazing...

  7. Wow, that would make you grow up in a horrible hurry. So sorry. You can be proud of how you stepped up and did it when many others would have crumpled.

  8. You're a strong and brave woman Diane. I can't imagine going through what you have. I'm so glad that your story has a happy ending. Thanks for sharing something so personal with us.

  9. And look how well you're handling it! You are a grown-up, a great mom, and a great blogger!

  10. Wow, what a moment to have to live through...

    Thanks for sharing this, your perspective is amazing!

  11. We all have to grow up sometime but I'm sorry your moment came that way.

    I thought about using this prompt but I realized I *still* don't feel like a grown up. At least not all of the time.

  12. Well written :) I am almost 39, have some gray hair (an O.M.G. recent discovery), the mother of 3 kids, and I often stop and think...i'm getting old. When did this happen? I don't feel like a grown-up! (my 8 y/o likes to frequently tell me that I am middle aged!)

  13. I think you are a handle it kind of woman. I'm sorry you had to 'grow up' that way. This was so well written, thank you for sharring. Hugs to you.

  14. You were amazing when Darin died. I don't know how you did. What an inspiration you are.

    You have used your experiences to help others along the way.

    My aha moment isn't so much like that. I think it happened when I heard someone call me "Mrs".