When I was little, I pictured my future self as a fully functioning adult. I guess I thought there would be one defining moment that would make me say, Yes, I have become an adult, and the road after that would be solid and straight – no more of this winding uncertainty that seemed to be the mark of growing up.
Since graduating a year and a half ago, I have wrestled with what it means to be a quote-unquote adult. Does it mean moving out of your parents’ house? Having a full-time job with benefits? Owning a car, being married, having babies, having a mortgage?
In one of many conversations with my father about my fear, my father looked at me and said:
That’s the big secret, Catherine. No one feels like an adult.
It was strange to hear my father, the man who has taken care of me, who raised me, say that he still does not feel like a grownup. If this 6’2″, bearded, hard-working man doesn’t feel like an adult, there is no hope for this girl.
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In late August, I was thrown into a job that I never dreamed I would have. Since then, I have been stretched and challenged, and every day I wake up and think: Wow, so I do it again? I go to the same place again? I teach Latin again? This will be a lifelong struggle, I think, becoming okay with repetition, with rhythms.
But as I wrote earlier in a post about patience, it seems like God doesn’t wait for us to grow up. He pushes us along and says, “Trust me.”
Today, while I was sitting at the desk in the afternoon, I watched all the kids being picked up. (Is it bad that as I wrote that sentence, I thought, That’s passive. Latin would use the Ablative Case?) The hall was full, the kids were happy, and I watched, smiling. One of my sixth grade girls saw me through the window. She waved excitedly, her eyes lit up.
“Hi, Miss H____!” she said.
I waved back. And then I thought, Oh my gosh, I have become Miss H____.
I thought I would be so different by this point, that I would have everything figured out. I thought I would have settled down into a calmer, more thoughtful, more loving me. (It should be noted that the very same evening after I was joyously called “Miss H____” and admired for my “pretty outfits,” I got in a fight with my sister and mother over the silliest thing. My life is a constant foil of itself.)
Becoming Miss H____ has taken less time than I thought. At the same time, the result is very different, too. I am still, in a lot of ways, the same little girl I was when I was seven, planning Laura Ingalls Wilder Club meetings, writing stories, and wishing someday to be a beautiful, smart, kind writer-woman who surrounds herself with lovely people and good books.
I have ninety-nine children who call me Miss H____. Ninety-nine people who will always think of me as their Latin teacher, their Magistra, the one who sang all the time and laughed too much at Latin jokes.
I have officially become Miss H____.