When I started the blog at this time last year, I wondered what I would do when there were no other items on the List to conquer. Would I be famous by then, a household name for my wit and candor and inside jokes? I was enough of a genius to think that it would be that way by now.
Of course it didn’t work that way. Laziness and complacency die harder than other things, because they’re laziness and complacency. But slowly, item by item, I began to accomplish grown-up goals. I accidentally got into the lane that took me to the highway, and so I began highway driving “without freaking out.” Y’all were very encouraging about me dealing with a thing that most people deal with in their mid to late teens, and for that I thank you.
I’d been planning a trip to Ireland, and trying to talk myself out of it, but my coworkers told me “just go, that’s an order.” So I went, and my mind was blown. I freaked out a little, but I went, and I came back alive and with some great souvenirs. Sure, my father did all the thinking and my sister and brother-in-law went on a boat to the cliffs of Whatever while I heroically bought yogurt at a grocery store, but my horizons broadened and you guys read about it.
I quit blowing all my money on stupid stuff and jumped into couponing—I started using rebate apps, three or four at a time, and checking weekly ads at stores. I wrote out grocery lists and meal plans for the first time in years, and I budgeted and did coupon math. It turns out you really DO have to buy things to eat, and I have not yet attempted to grow an edible plant, but everyone was patient with my progress.
I told the memories of recess mistakes to shut up, and I finally learned how football (American football) is played. I made a mediocre steak in the oven, accepted the mockery of family and friends, and asked my father-in-law to show me how to grill. I made biscuits again, thus “baking things that start out as dough”. I stitched up torn toys and repaired ripped seams in my clothes, singing old-timey songs to myself and wondering how young I would’ve died if I’d lived in Colonial times. And I read Finance for Kids. Because though my father is a genius of finance, that’s the level I’m at.
I learned things. They weren’t brilliant things, and the steak thing was mostly just Lawrence, but I know things I didn’t know before. And so do you…you know the workings of my mediocre day to day life.
Honestly, this isn’t what I thought I would say. I thought I’d have a year’s worth of fun, challenging, hilarious experiences to relay in the pages of this blog, and I do have a year’s worth of stuff, but I’m not as proud as I thought I’d be. It’s kind of anticlimactic, actually.
There is, however, this one old post that I think about a lot. I return to it for encouragement in my mind. It had nothing to do with the List—it was a story about picking up my sick son from daycare.
Andrew had vomited, and I rushed over to pick him up. It was my worst nightmare. What would I do, I used to ask myself, if he starts barfing all over the place? But when the time came, I was shocked at how quiet my mind became. I remember my hands, calm and steady, covering the back seat with blankets and sweaters and opening trash bags. When I picked up my sobbing son, the words came out of my mouth— , “It’s okay, buddy, mama’s got you. We’re gonna go home.” And as he cried and lost his lunch all over my hands, I kept telling him it would be okay. All the way up the stairs, into the bathroom, and finally into the tub—I got Drew cleaned up and taken care of, all the while wondering how I’d gotten so chill.
Adulthood appeared when I was least expecting it, and I surprised myself by rising to the occasion, because I was the one who had to.
I remember once telling my mother that I wasn’t sure I was a good mom. She said, “you’re a perfect mom for him.” Well sure, I said, shrugging. I’m good for Andrew, but— “But what? He’s the only one you have! He’s the only one that matters!”
I knew that she was right. Why had I never thought of that before?
And so that’s the truth I’ve come to understand, this first year into blogging and intentional adulthood…that the only life I have to live is my own.
I was born with a brain that embraces anxiety like an old friend and processes things slightly different than like 90% of the population (story for another blog), and these are my challenges. I’m not supposed to make myself into a more confident and competent person. I’m just supposed to offer my life to God and obey Him, and He said not to fear. And to raise my son to love Him. And to respect and love my husband. And to love my neighbors and enemies. And to speak the truth. It’s a one-thing-at-a-time project.
You don’t have to defeat someone else’s problems. Just your own.
So I’ve spoken the truth about my own problems for a year, and it was kind of loserly. But you guys in the Blob kept reading it, and encouraging me.
Over the last year I’ve gotten 25 followers, and readers from over 20 countries. I’ve heard the nicest compliments from readers, and some remarks like “that makes you sound like a jerk.” I’ve written while crying and while laughing, and then I’ve looked at the numbers for “views” and seen that somewhere out there, people were reading. Maybe it was only ten people on the post about coupons and Jedis, but you were. And I watched the numbers climb when I posted that thing about taking Andrew to church, and I realized that I wasn’t the only parent who was scared to death of screwing everything up. I mean, I knew that empirically, but here I had real agreement from total strangers.
Sometimes I put this stuff out there and then regret it. I feel stupid and immature. I know I can never again maintain the image I’d like to maintain. But sometimes I post things and feel like a weight is lifted off me—the weight of pretending to be a perfect person, an adult who doesn’t mess up, who always says the right thing. Why pretend? Try, yes. But don’t pretend.
So I’m gonna keep writing, because the blog is fun, and because you guys have been so cool about it. And because I don’t feel competent yet. Oh, and because I just recently registered a new domain for the blog and changed the name. Time for much rejoicing.
So happy one-year anniversary, everyone, and let me introduce you to The Heartfelt Awkward, a Grownup Internet Weblog. All the posts are still there, and it’s still me, and I’m not famous. But there it is. Write something people will read? Check. Adulthood accomplished. 😉