When Did You Become a Grownup?

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and wondered when you suddenly became the grownup gazing back at you? When did you become this responsible person when you still feel like a kid inside?

I  live in an all-Americana neighborhood town. Kids ride their bikes freely, flocking to the central ice cream shop after school. The local police report often cites cell phones being stolen from people’s cars — and unlocked cars at that. People don’t necessarily lock their houses during the day. It’s hard not to feel safe and comfortable here.

However, all of those years living in Chicago where even in the best of neighborhoods one has to always be on their guard, came rushing back in an instant.

I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items early this morning. Just as I placed the car in park, a tall teenage boy ran up to my passenger door and tried to open it. Was I getting carjacked? I must have looked absolutely shocked and horrified because he quickly backed away. Even through the window glass I could see how scared he was, mouthing the words ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’

In that instant, the street-smart girl returned, and my body turned on an ingrained fight or flight response. I’m guessing my face said fight while my body said flight. Either way, I had scared the bejesus out of this boy.

An instant later, I saw before me a man old enough to be a physical threat and a boy frightened by his own actions. I gently got out of the car and asked if his mom was around. He said she was coming back to pick him up. Not wanting to leave him in the parking lot, I told him it was an honest mistake and offered to walk him back to the grocery store where he could wait for his mom. I could see his body physically relax and relief wash over him.

What must have that experience been like for him. Did I appear to be the posing threat rather than the other way around? Even though I have a six year old and am in my 40s, I still think of myself as some young 20 year old. When did the world begin to view me as a grownup? It seems to have happened overnight even though it has been creeping up slowly. I just wasn’t paying attention.

Just as the imposing teenager was still a young boy who wanted his mom when scared, I’m an older mom who doesn’t want to be some settled-down woman. Even though the world may view me as a responsible adult, I plan on keeping the young girl inside of me nearby. And yes, some days I just want my mom.

EVOLVE: When did you first feel like an official grownup?


  1. I love your post. The written message is so perceptive as to how tweens and teens are feeling. Then we. as parents, so quickly forget where we came from. Sometimes we are so busy in the place we are now; we do forget where we have come been.

  2. Janice Smith says:


  3. What a post. Great job with that situation.

    Isn’t it funny, about never feeling like a grown up. My mom always says, “You never really feel older than 20, then you look in the mirror and think – who is that person?”

    I remember having my daughter and feeling completely lost and not sure how I became a mom – yeah, not all of the details but the – “Holy Cow, I am a Mother and so Unprepared!’ thought. It was then that I realized that most adults are just as clueless as I always was, doing the best they can each day and hoping their choices are the right ones. I remember suddenly realizing how my parents felt raising us and I couldn’t believe how crazy it is that as kids we think adults know so much and we all just kind of do the best we can each day. I’m not sure I like that realization but I remember that moment clearly and then, thanking my parents profusely. 🙂

  4. Rita VonCoupon says:

    I grew up in a very dangerous neighborhood in a city, so in a way I’ve always been a grown up? By that I just mean that I’ve always been more alert and more realistic than most children. However! Now that I’m an adult I find ways to enjoy a bit of youthful fun. Nail polish, craft time with my niece and nephews and visiting kiddie playes with them. I’ve only ever known the expectation of responsibility.

  5. Poor kid–he probably thought that was his Mom’s car. She probably has the same one as you or at least the same relative shape car and color. You handled that beautifully! At 62 I guess I am as grown up as I ever am going to be–however I still feel like a kid inside!!

  6. Well, due to family situations and dysfunction, I grew up way too soon. But I think that feeling like a grown up has stages. I felt like a grown up as I hit big milestones in my life: work milestones, getting married, having a child, etc. But most recently, I lost both my parents within 10 months, and I now feel like a grown up on a different level. Great post.

  7. ourhomeonderanged says:

    Does paying the bills and doing the laundry count as feeling like a grownup? lol. Most days I know I’m the grownup because I have to take the lead on everything. But when we bought our first business, that’s when I knew my funtime days were over. I couldn’t call in sick to play hookie anymore. The kids have just made that all the more clearer.
    As for the kid coming up to the car – it would’ve scared the hell out of me. I had a guy approach me in the Walmart parking lot and without thinking told him “no, not interested.” He could have beat me up right there, but luckily he walked away. Fight or flight, indeed.

  8. Cyndie Norell says:

    This makes me happy to love in rural SC. I hope I do not encounter anything like this

  9. Chubskulit Rose says:

    I wasn’t a typical kid growing up, my parents treated us like adults which I hated that time but now I am thankful because I learned so much!

  10. Jennifer Williams says:

    We had some family issues that caused me to grow up way to quick, I can remember cooking form my family by standing on a stool at the age of 5. When did I suddenly look like one, I do not exactly recall, I was 35 and got carded for a lottery ticket, after that I think something happened, lol.

  11. What an interesting perspective after having that teen boy make that mistake about your car…I think I would have initially reacted the same way. It’s sweet that you realized he was a bit scared and wondering where his mom was. Some days I still just want my mom too.

  12. i love your post, very educationable… i’ve learn many things here. we can become adult with our responsibilities in life..however being a kid would be awesome esp when you play like being one of those kid with your kids…

  13. Wow. What a great post with some great thoughts on the matter! I wonder what was going through the boys mind during that ordeal.

  14. I think by the time we became moms, we have this protective instinct towards kids that we always look at them as our own. We want to protect them no matter who they are if we see that they’re scared, want to reassure them that they are safe and such. we grow up when we become parents .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *