When I was a little girl, I couldn't wait to grow up. I'd dress up in my mom's clothes, put on her jewelry, dab lipstick on my lips, put on my plastic high heels and I would pretend that I was an adult. Because when I was a kid, the whole notion of being an adult basically came down to 3 things: being able to wear high heels, being able to wear make-up and being able to stay up as late as I wanted. Of course I couldn't wait to grow up because being a grown-up was fun and glamorous. 

What no one told the 6yo me, was that being a grown up is really about responsibility and that responsibility is not always fun. 

In 2 months, I will be turning 35 and it feels like a significant birthday: halfway through my 30s, that much closer to 40. Am I where I thought I would be at 35? I don't know. I don't think so. But it doesn't mean I don't love my life. And I am not one of those people who fears getting older. Since I turned 30 I have welcomed each birthday with open arms because as I get older, I keep getting better. I am getting smarter. And wiser.  I am more independent. Have more self-confidence.  I won't say that I want 40 to hurry up and get here...but I am not afraid either. 

At almost-35, I have felt like a grown-up for some time now. I am a home-owner. I have established credit. I bought a car.  I have a wonderful job and my title includes Director of.  I make choices each and every day about how to spend money, where to go, what to do, and how to treat myself and I have been doing these things for some time.

But last week I did 2 things that hammered home just how grown up I am becoming.

Number one, I scheduled my first mammogram.  When I had my well woman exam back in January my Ob-Gyn and I agreed that at almost-35, it was time. It's not like I have a history of breast cancer in my family. And it's not like I am suffering from any symptoms.  It's just the right time to start monitoring and while some doctors tell you to wait until you're 40, we saw no reason to delay.  Especially seeing as I have excellent medical coverage and the procedure would be covered in full.

However, you'll notice that it took me 6 months to schedule the appointment.  For 6 months I pulled a classic Scarlett O'Hara ("I'll just think about it tomorrow") because seriously...who gets excited about having their breasts squeezed in a vice-like grip for even a minute let alone 10?  Not to mention as I've already said, I have no symptoms. No history.  No reason to really be worried. 

But this week I rifled through my filing cabinet, found the referral slip, and made the call. 

The second truly adult thing I did this week was start to do some legal planning.  You take it for granted when you are married that there is someone automatically designated to inherit your money and to make decisions in your best interest should you become incapable of making them for yourself.  And while at almost-35, I am not exactly on death watch you never know when someone can swerve over the middle line and push your car into a guard rail. Or when a parking deck you're driving in will collapse. Or when a brick will fall off a building and hit you on the head.  At almost-35, I am not thinking about death, but the truth is that unexpected things happen every single day and right now, I have nothing in place to protect me or my family should something happen.

So I am talking to attorneys about things like healthcare proxies and living wills. I am determining who my beneficiaries are.  I am having frank and serious discussions with family members about decisions they will have to make in case I can't make them for myself. And it's scary. And unpleasant. And depressing. But I am doing it because I am an adult and this is what adults do. We take responsibility. We make tough choices. 

And in the end, every tough choice I make, I know will benefit me in the long run.  Do I want to feel like a Mack truck is running over my breasts and pressing down with all 15 tons of weight? No. But I want to know that my breasts are healthy. And if they're not? I want to know that too so I can do whatever I can to fight a disease that claims the lives of over 40,000 women annually.

Do I want to look at my own mortality and think about whether or not I want to be kept alive in a vegetative state? Not really. But I also don't want to be Terry Schiavo. Or Nancy Cruzan. I want my family and friends to have the necessary legal recourse to make the choices that are best for me based on choices I can make now as a coherent, lucid, functioning adult.

So I make the tough choices. I have the difficult conversations. I think about things that I'd rather not think about.  But it's only for a brief while, and then it's behind me. Then I move on to more of the fun stuff.  Because while being a grown-up is hard, it's also a lot of fun. My 6yo self didn't have it all wrong...

 Sarah at 6.jpg   

6 Comments

Born to be a Diva - no doubt!!!

Congratulations on making the Mammo appt. It is really not as bad as everyone says and as a survivor who also had no family history or signs until I needed a bi-lateral mastectomy, I am a big fan of prevention and early detection. I'm still around 5+ years later!

And you have a much more civilized attitude about 35 than I. I didn't mind 30 and was even OK with 40 (mostly because David orchestrated a BIG WONDERFUL CELEBRATION) but I hated 35. I felt stuck rather than successful, even though that wasn't the case - I applaud your positive outlook. The planning you are doing, rather than pointing to impending doom as some may think who avoid such things, actually shows your self-confidence and desire to be around and enjoy life for a long long time!

GO ROUGIE!

Mike and I making our Last Will and Testament and actually having conversations about who will raise our children if we die was one of the hardest things we did as "grown-ups" But the thought of our families arguing over it if we both died at the same time, and putting our kids in the middle like that wasn't something we ever wanted to happen.

So, as of right now, they're being left to Ellen and Portia. I hope they take good care of them. ;)

i'm amazed how much your 6yrold self looks like the top pic in your flickr set on the left. You are certainly more responsible then i've been.

The mammogram is really no big deal. I've had it done when I had big boobs, and also after my breast reduction. No biggie.

I need to do the whole will/healthcare proxy stuff. And I'm 42!!

Wow! You really are having a grown up week. I love the pic.

At 36, with divorce looming, bills piling up, and everything that can go wrong going wrong--I definitely do not feel on my life's track. At. All.

Good for you, grown up girl, scheduling your mammogram. I need to do that soon. Apparently, I need some more growing up to do.

I think I felt grown up when I turned 30, got laid-off, and got married all within the same 7 month-ish period.

That steady rise into adulthood blipped a little bit when I had my first child. As my son and I were leaving the hospital, my first thought was "Are they insane sending this child home with me?! I'm too young and stupid to take care of another human!!!"

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