Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Am I a Grown-Up Now?

Monday, May 5, 2014
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Eden Maheras

The Millennial Generation, for myriad reasons that I won’t get into here, tend not to take the typical path to adulthood and responsibility.  Living with parents after college is becoming more of the norm, as is changing jobs with increasing regularity, and putting off starting a family.  I was born right on the Gen X/Gen Y divide, but always felt like my path was more like that of a Gen X-er…until widowhood threw me onto more of an “alternative adulthood” track.

Recent events have made me feel as though I’m at a strange place on the “growing up” spectrum.  In the past couple of weeks, I finished my grad school program, transitioned to full-time at work, and made an offer on the condo I’ve been renting for the past 2 years (with my parents).  I have never been someone who welcomed change or adjusted to it easily, so to say I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed is an understatement. 

Having completed my grad school program feels good, but strange.  Sure, there is a remote chance that I could go back someday for a doctorate, but whereas having a Bachelor’s Degree felt like a step, having my Master’s feels like I have truly completed something.  I’m thrilled to have secured a position in training and development, and hope to continue my own learning process as I guide others in theirs.  Going to grad school certainly accomplished what I was hoping for: getting out of an industry I did not like, and transitioning to something that feels like a true career.

Transitioning to full-time is great from a professional standpoint.  But I’m sure that after a couple weeks I will be missing my mornings with Max.  I know I was lucky to have them while they lasted, and being done with school means being able to devote my evenings and weekends to him.  I plan on taking full advantage.  However, while this feels like a step forward in adulthood (hooray for my first real benefits package), it means relying on my parents even more with Max, now that I more consistently out of the house.  And it’s going to be a struggle to not feel like less of a mom now; I am going to have to consistently remind myself that even if I hadn’t lost JP, there was no guarantee that I would have been staying at home with Max full-time by this point.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I am blessed to have parents who are so devoted to giving Max the absolute best.  He is in excellent hands while I’m at the office.    

Deciding to make an offer on the condo was a difficult one.  For a long time, the plan was for me to buy a place, and my parents to rent nearby.  But the logistics were going to be a real challenge.  And, our current situation works well for us.  The location, the elementary school district, the patterns of our lives…they say “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”  So here we are, and while there is a lot that needs to fall into place, a lot of lawyers involved, and I am still adjusting to the idea of staying with my parents when I was gearing up for independence… I’m optimistic, and I do think we made the right choice for everyone, particularly Max. 

And so, while I feel as though I’ve sort of been taking one step forward and a half-step back on the march toward being a card-carrying member of the Grown Up Club, I think JP would approve of the choices I’ve made, knowing that my singular goal is to do what’s best for Max.

As young widows and widowers, we have experienced a life-shattering event that has completely changed the direction of our lives, and will continue to impact events and decisions and how we feel about outcomes forever after.  Our “normal” is undeniably and permanently altered, and it may feel like we have literally become different people.  Losing one’s partner, and confidante, makes it even more difficult to take a step back, take stock, and give ourselves credit for events and decisions.  My hope for all of us is that we find a way to give ourselves the occasional pat on the back.  It’s not always easy to do, but we deserve it!

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