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Guest Blog: The Ties That Bind

“As the generally accepted signposts of maturity came and went for me (turning 18 then 21, serious relationship, college graduation, regular job, buying a house, even marriage) I was still driving along, looking for that maturity exit.  Then I became a father.  There was my exit!  Many of the other drivers on this road to adulthood exited before me and some were still driving by me, but this exit was mine.”

Today’s post-Father’s Day essay is brought to us by dynamic Kevin Robertson. Kevin’s piece about fatherhood is moving and insightful and challenges us to think about own own definitions maturity. Kevin offers us a rare insight on parenthood that is not often seen on Welcome to Adulthood[*], and adds another layer of understanding to our ever-evolving examination on what it means to be “an adult.”  He will also make you think twice about getting your dad a tie for Father’s Day!

[*] Note to parents: Inspired to submit? Add to our discussion with your thoughts on parenting and its relationship to adulthood, maturity, and/or personal growth. We’d love to hear from you!

The Ties That Bind

by Kevin Robertson

I did not get a tie this year for Father’s Day.  No barbeque apron or chef’s hat, no card depicting a lazy man sitting in a recliner with a remote in his hand, or any of the various clichéd items most men get from their children or spouse on the third Sunday in June each year.  What I did get was a 300 mile drive across the Arizona desert with my kids in route to a youth baseball tournament.  As the kids slept the drive away, I began thinking about fatherhood in general and how impactful it has been for me on the road to adulthood.

Unlike my drive across Interstate 8, the road to adulthood has few signposts telling you how fast to go or what exit to take.  Some people find their way easily, but I did not.  I always associated adulthood with maturity.  More specifically, maturity as defined by finally putting self interest aside-doing what was right rather than what you wanted.  As the generally accepted signposts of maturity came and went for me (turning 18 then 21, serious relationship, college graduation, regular job, buying a house, even marriage) I was still driving along, looking for that maturity exit.  Then I became a father.  There was my exit!  Many of the other drivers on this road to adulthood exited before me and some were still driving by me, but this exit was mine.

The responsibility for others was the key for me.  Fatherhood defines my maturity, my adulthood. It means constantly evaluating whether or not I’m setting the right example and teaching the right life lessons.   My week with was spent watching baseball with longtime fathers, new fathers, fathers-to-be, and found myself wondering how fatherhood was affecting their adulthood.  I work with children every day that grew up in homes where fatherhood was not the key to adulthood.  Everyone’s adulthood is different, which is what makes the journey so exciting, daunting, frustrating and rewarding all at once.

Our journey to the desert ended safely and successfully.   The trip was full of laughter and stories we will think about and remember all of our lives.  Just like my journey to adulthood.  So even though I didn’t get a tie to wear this year (and that’s a good thing!), ties are important to me on Father’s Day.  Ties to my father and the memories I have growing up as his son.  And ties, of course, to my two beautiful children, who are teaching me so much about what it means to be an adult every day.

P.S. When we got home, my teenagers presented me with my Father’s Day gift.  It was a new copy of “Kisses for Daddy”, a children’s book they loved and wore out when they were just learning to read.  After they left the room I did what any mature, masculine member of adulthood would do…I cried.


Photo by RunnerAlan2004 via Flickr.


Guest Blog: Hungry for Thanksgiving

“Forget all the other bready options on that buffet table and give me the weird-looking celery-studded stuff. So GOOD to get a bite of stuffing, a bite of turkey and gravy, and a bite of cranberry sauce all mixed up together in your mouth!” – Excerpt from Hungry for Thanksgiving

‘Tis the season for guest bloggers!

This holiday season, I am thankful for my amazing group of blog collaborators who continue to inspire and amaze me with their incredible writing abilities, and wonderful stories.

Here’s a guest blogger, the sassy Mim, who gave us a personal perspective on death that was a quiet little blog entry but was packed with meaning and was incredibly moving. I always learn from her (especially lately — on a personal level, Mim is about as wise as they get) and I am so excited and honored to feature her again on Welcome to Adulthood. Did I mention that Mim is about to jump into the world of blogging? Her blog will be launched next week. Stay tuned right here for all the juicy URL details.

I am also excited to feature a guest blog from two of my favorite ladies at 2GirlsonaBench, Tricia and Siana. Stay tuned, because after the holidays we will kick off our first blog in our Inhabit series from two little ladies that you will not be able to get enough of. (Luckily, you can amuse yourself for hours on their blog.)

But for now, enjoy this little diddy courtesy of Mim that is so good you can almost taste it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hungry for Thanksgiving

by Mim

When I was a kid, my family celebrated Thanksgiving at our church by helping serve a community meal. I don’t know if we ever had a conversation about the great effort to feed the hungry on the holiday that’s all about gluttony and counting blessings. We just showed up, cooked, served, smiled. Seems maybe there should be some great life lessons in there somewhere. But really, for me, Thanksgiving has mostly always been about the food.

Mom would get up early and, following Grampy’s recipe, she’d sauté celery, onions and poultry seasoning in Crisco until the whole house smelled festive and edible. Before we kids had finished our Frosted Flakes, she had stuffed the huge bird and heaved it into the oven. And by the time we arrived to deliver the finished, golden-crisped turkey to the fellowship hall kitchen, we were bouncing off the walls from the anticipation of eating the magnificent thing. (…)

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Guest Blog: When I Was Your Age…

I am so proud and excited to publish an essay by my dear friend Lukus. Lukus’s other essay is featured on the Best of Adulthood, and for good reason. He is thoughtful and candid about his ruminations on adulthood, he is a great writer, and I am very excited for you to read his next contribution. Enjoy this one everyone! Let us know in the comments, do you feel this same pressure from your parents? Any and all ideas are welcome and valued here and I look forward to your thoughts!

When I Was Your Age…

by Lukus Williams

With all the poking and prodding from Mara to get another entry out of me, I was tempted to make this guest post about the virtues of patience. Unfortunately, neither virtue nor patience are topics with which I am familiar. What I do excel at is an argument, and that’s where the inspiration for this entry comes.

During what I lovingly to refer to as a parental bitchfest, my father was comparing the course of his life to mine in order to point out my shortcomings. His list of accomplishments is framed in that stereotypical formula used by parents against their transitioning children:

“When I was your age, I was married, had a full time job. We owned a house. There’s no way you could even have a family by the time you’re 28.”(I’m 25, by the way.)

Normally, my standard response is to roll my eyes and walk off. If I’m in a poor mood I may say something colorful in French, since he won’t understand (va te faire foutre!!!), but that can garner the wrath of other multilingual relatives who happen to be afoot. But this time, I tried a different tactic:

“How old were you when you moved to a city that was 250 times larger than where you had grown up, with no friends or family and hardly any money, because your parents decided to set-up shop in the backwater boonies with next to no opportunity? And how long did it take you to build a new foundation of friends and contacts, learn to live on your own, and work multiple jobs while going to school full time?”


“That’s what I thought.”

I share this story, not just as a rant about how my parents don’t understaaaaaaaaaand me (though they don’t!), but as way to illustrate how the definition of adulthood is a fluid thing, and the skills needed to function are always changing.

I grew up in a really small and hot Mayberry RFD town filled with insular, and just all-around weird people, and when I made the move to San Diego back in early 2006, I did it entirely on my own. It’s not that my parents didn’t want to help, it’s that they couldn’t.

My parents never lived on their own. They never kicked the tires on an apartment, deciphered a light rail or bus schedule, or pondered what life might be like when you can choose between more than one grocery store. My mom was 19 and my dad 23 when they got married. They moved straight from their parents’ homes into a two-bedroom house that they bought for $35,000. We’re still eating off of the plates and utensil they got as wedding gifts and the jury is out on whether or not I’m older than the electric can opener they have.

My mom learned her cooking, cleaning, and house budgeting skills in high school because that’s what girls in the Midwest did back in the 70s. My dad got his university education for a whopping $8,500. So let’s just say that asking my mom how to pay bills online and trying to explain to my dad why my student loans needed to be several times the size of that first home loan were very…frustrating conversations.

It isn’t necessarily that they lived with their heads buried in the sand and didn’t realize the world kept moving while we lived in the middle of nowhere. It was more that they were having trouble reconciling the outside world with what was going to in everyday life.

For my peers who grew up in SoCal, getting married at 19 then moving into a starter home are not the markers of a successful and normal start into adulthood. Instead, moving hundreds of miles from home, learning the dynamics of living with strangers as roommates, or even * gasp * living alone, have become the markers of adulthood.

“Thirty years old for us is twenty years old for them” says one of my close friends and I agree. None of us can fathom having kids before 30, and only two in our large group have gotten married (to each other). But if our Baby Boomer parents still insist that the standard for growing up is being a parent, or being married, then all of my cohorts from my dorm days are looking to stay Toys R Us Kids. And why shouldn’t we? With a ton of debt and jobs scarce, I know “settling down” is the last thing on my mind.

I hate to end this with an “us versus them” undertone, but when I get told to “grow up” by my father, it’s hard not to start seeing lines in the sand. The skills my parents needed to be successful young adults are obsolete. Society doesn’t exist in stasis. And for us 20-something, working-class, collegiate-types, adulthood means hanging on in an uncertain world and worrying that it may never calm down long enough for us to grow up to the standards of my father.


April Showers Bring: Muffins, Baking, Brunch, Tulips and Family

Well, I moved to a new apartment — it is so much bigger and for the first time we can accommodate a number of people at our house. We also have a patio, for the first time in years, and are really excited to finally give our large patio table a nice place to live. We have had dinner on the patio every day that it has been warm enough, and boy has it been great. Until you are couped up in a 500 square foot apartment with no outdoor space for a few years, you might not realize how great it is to be able to eat outside on a patio at your own house. Oh, how I will never take the outdoors for granted again!

This Easter, we are hosting our first holiday! We aren’t religious, so Easter is more of a time to get friends and family together and be grateful for the time you have together. It is also an excuse to bake! My mom, our long-time family friend, Phil, and Brian and I will be indulging in a delicious brunch!

I am in charge of the sweet dishes, and Brian is in charge of the savory. So our menu will consist of the following:
– Made to order omelets or egg scrambles with choice of veggies, cheeses, and meats. (I think I will go for a spinach, tomato, goat cheese, and avocado omelet!)
– Bacon and sausage
– Homemade zucchini bread
– Homemade raspberry, blueberry, orange muffins. (Maybe served warm with lemon curd?)
– Healthy, homemade raspberry cream cheese french toast
– Bagels with lox and cream cheese, lemon and capers
– Bloody Mary’s
– Mimosas
– Lemon bars
– Homemade low-carb key lime cheesecake (my mom is on Atkins at the moment, though she is a skinny little mini already)

Sounds like a great meal!

I haven’t taken pictures of all my homemade goodies, but here is the recipe for the muffins to get you started.

Mmmm. Can’t wait to eat all my sweets! Did I mention my mom is on Atkins, or yeah and BF doesn’t like “sweets for breakfast”? Soooo, I guess more for me!

Raspberry/Blueberry/Orange Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup melter butter
1 large egg
3/4 cup frozen raspberries (do not thaw)
3/4 cup frozen blueberries (do not thaw)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange peel. Mix well.
3. In another bowl, combine OJ and eggs. Add melted butter by tempering egg mix. If you temper correctly, you don’t have to worry about scrambling BUT the butter, OJ, egg mixture does look a bit chunky. Not to worry, this is the butter trying to re-form. Blend well.
4. Add flour mixture until just combined. (Batter will be very thick!)
5. Gently stir in berries.
6. Divide thick batter into 12 muffin cups. Don’t worry if you fill them all the way to the top on these guys. I did and they worked out fine.
7. Bake at 400 for 18-25 minutes (mine went for 23 minutes) or until baking pin thingy comes out clean. Cool in tins for 1 minute. Remove from pan, serve warm.

* These are a bit sour, so I might suggest serving with whipped honey butter or lemon curd. You can buy lemon curd at Trader Joe’s if you don’t feel like making your own.

Another great thing about spring time at Trader Joe’s: You can buy a little posy of cut tulips. They come all closed up, and in different colors. You just snip the bottoms, place them in water and they beautify any room or Easter table!

More recipes to come! Happy Easter!

Guest Blog: Mastering the Art of Laundry and Other Lessons on "Growing Up"

Today I am so excited and proud to present Emily Lieber as our guest blogger. Emily is really a phenomenal writer (she is also a writer-by-profession) and I have been hinting to her for the past few months how honored I would be to have her as a guest blogger. Well, Merry Christmas to me, because this morning, in my inbox was this little jewel of a piece. It is so spot on our theme of adulthood, and so insightful, funny, and poignant, especially during this holiday season when many of us will be going back to our parents house for celebrations. I hope you will enjoy this one as much as I did. The best part is, Emily promises it as part of a series, so we will have more to come from this talented lady.

Enjoy it! Show her some comment love! What kinds of social norms exist when you go back home? Do you still live by the “house rules”? How has your relationship with your parents changed/grown/evolved (pick any, or others, that apply) since adulthood? We will all be expecting riveting stories in the comments after the holidays are over (because we know we will all have lots to share after 4 days of family bonding.) I look forward to our discussion! And, of course, may your yuletide days be merry and bright!

So, ::drumroll:: without further ado:

Part I: Mastering the Art of Laundry and Other Lessons on “Growing Up”

By Emily Lieber

My husband and I are in the process of buying and renovating our first home. With escrow, permitting delays, cracked slab fixes, and other hidden problems, the process has taken more than twice as long as we thought it would. In the meantime, the house we were renting sold and escrow closed. We would have been searching for a month-to-month rental had it not been for my generous parents, who have opened their home to us and our two dogs until our new house is move-in ready.

We moved out of our old house and into my parents home, the one I grew up in, in one, long day. It has been good thing for all of us that my parents have a granny flat of sorts, complete with a restroom, bedroom, and living area separated by a door from the main house. We do have privacy and space so that we are not underfoot, but we still must venture into my parents’ space for meals, shows recorded on the DVR, and laundry. We spend most of the evenings eating dinner and sitting by the fire in the main house, so there is plenty of time to discuss healthcare reform, watch shows like the Sing-Off, and play board games.

There have been primarily positive things about our temporary living arrangement. For example, I no longer have to worry about making dinner. My mom works part-time and is a great cook, so she is fairly content handling that area. My mom has also taken over the daily task of walking our dogs at lunch, something I used to run home from work to do every day, making my life fairly harried and rushed. More importantly, I think my husband and I get along pretty well with my parents. We enjoy spending time with them and get to do a lot of that right now.

But this is real life, and with the good comes the “less-than-pleasant” things that come with sharing living spaces (in my life that has included parents and siblings, roommates, and my spouse, and all have come with very different, but still “less-than-pleasant” things). In my current living situation, the main issue that has arisen is the laundry situation. My mom has a knack for cleaning, sanitizing, and organizing, and laundry is one of her favorite things to do. Seriously. Not favorite cleaning task to do, favorite thing to do. I, on the other hand, absolutely despise doing laundry. When I had the luxury of my own washer and dryer, I would stuff them as full as I possibly could to get the as much laundry washed and dried as quickly as possible. I don’t like the process of moving wet things from the washer to the dryer, the process of folding piles of clothes and towels, or the process of hanging damp clothes to dry on hangers. Somehow, I have still managed to do this task weekly for the 9 years I have lived on my own since I left for college at age 18.

Despite my many years of experience in this area, I failed to realize when I put in my first load in at my parents’ house that my process was quite deficient. I stuffed a couple of blankets in the load (and maybe some towels) and went out to run a quick errand. When I returned, my mom and a little girl she watches from time to time were waiting triumphantly to tell me how my too-full load had caused the washing machine to jiggle out of its place all the way across the laundry room floor (or so they say). The washing machine had already been returned to its rightful place, and my load had been pulled out, divided into thirds, and restarted by the time I had returned with plans to transfer it all to the dryer. I really do think that part of the issue is that my mom has super high-tech machines that require more delicate handling. I will admit that another part is that I definitely push the limits of how much can fit in one load. I accepted their joking at my expense and promised to run smaller loads in the future.

I tried to continue doing laundry as the weeks progressed, but I soon realized that it was best for all of us if I simply dumped our dirty clothes, the doggie beds, our towels, bedding, and blankets onto the laundry room floor for my mother to sort, wash, dry, hang, and fold as she sees fit. I simply am not capable of doing laundry to the standard that my mom does it. I wash blacks and navy blues with light blues and reds. I throw all whites, regardless of fabric type, into the wash at once and douse the whole load with bleach. I throw in tennis shoes to dry on air dry instead of using the special drying rack. I pretty much always use the normal cycle, failing to use the special options like “sanitize,” “wrinkle care,” and “delicate.” Based on all of this, you might think my husband and I look like ragamuffins. Maybe we do, but if you ask me, our clothes always come out clean and seem to last as long as ordinary clothes should. Yet, I am confident that my mom still has a mental checklist of things that I do “wrong” in the laundry room.

Sometimes when you grow up and move out you think you have accomplished something. You think, okay, I’ve learned to do my own laundry, make my own meals, and plan my own day-to-day activities. Well, if your head is getting a little bit big regarding the accomplishments you have achieved in adulthood by living on your own, you might want to spend a weekend at my parent’s house. My mom will reeducate you on what temperature to cook things at and how long to microwave them, how to properly wash dishes, when you should bake cookies (not at 9:30 p.m.) and for how long, and when you should go on runs (not after dark). You will quickly learn two things: (1) what you thought you knew about the domestic realm is not enough; and (2) while you toyed with a false sense of independence for a time, you likely need to be retrained in the art of running your own life.

(Photo by Anne Taintor)

Wordless Wednesday: Three Babies and a Mom

I am instituting a new feature for the blog: Wordless Wednesdays.
Let’s celebrate and commiserate adulthood in a narrative of photo memories.

Still need some inspiration? Our first photo comes to us from my dear friend Jenn. Jenn is mom to an adorable but extremely hyper-active 18 month old, and two precious 8 week old twins.

I give you, My Day: Three Babies and a Mom — proving that a picture truly does say a thousand words.

Here is your challenge, my glorious readers: dig through old photo albums, old computer hard drives, old social networking site profile pictures and tell us a meaninful story in just one photo. Give it a name, or don’t name it at all, and send it along to me at mara@welcometoadulthood.com.

Now looking at My Day, what kinds of things from this narrative speak to you? How amazing is this woman in the image?

To me this narrative reads as a woman who is strong, fecund, resourceful, and resilient. To me, this photo seems to celebrate the power of Mother, and also remind us that motherhood means being present for your children in every way: sacrificing your chin to feed your baby if need be, and sacrificing your sanity to make sure your children are happy, healthy, and loved. This picture, my friends, oozes love in a real, tangible, way. And I know, if I grew up and found a picture just like this of my mom, with me and my brother, I would feel something very powerful. I would think, wow, my mom gave me everything she had, and she was really somethin’ special.

Let’s talk about it! Send me any thoughts in the comments. All you mothers out there, does this inspire you? Or does it remind you how hard it can be sometimes to be a mommy? All you readers with no children, how does this make you feel? Does this scare you? All views are welcome here. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

(Photo courtesy of J.G.J.)

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