All Grown Up, and It’s Extraordinary. And Also Ordinary.

The other day, as we drove to school, my four-year-old asked, “When do you become a grownup?”

My seven-year-old, of course, had an answer right away. “Well, you go to high school, then college, then grad school, and then you’re a grownup!”

If only it were so simple.

The transition to “grownup” is kind of like the transition into sleep ~ we’re not aware of it until it has already occurred, and we wake up only to realize we missed the actual moment. It just happened, when we least expected it.

Perhaps the most unexpected part of being a grownup {besides the fact that I actually am one} is what my grownup life looks like. As children and teenagers, we imagine adulthood as extraordinary; it’s complete freedom – no one to boss us around! No curfew! No rules! But we tend to settle in to grownup routines and structures and rules pretty quickly. Adulthood, which sounds so extraordinary, becomes pretty ordinary.

My daughter, when she was four, envisioned being a mom as a stage when the forbidden fruits would no longer be forbidden. But she didn’t dream of the extraordinary, of sowing wild oats: she once told me, “When I’m a mom, I’ll chew gum, I’ll eat nuts, I’ll drink wine…”

Perhaps the most unexpected part of being a grownup is how … expected and ordinary so much of it is.

In The Gift of an Ordinary Day, Katrina Kenison writes, “I think the word ordinary has a bad rap. We encourage our children to strive to lead extraordinary lives…. [yet] … It turns out that life is rich and full enough right here.”

Kenison notes that raising small children may “tether us for a time, creating limits and enclosures that hold fast through elementary school. We know our children need security, rhythm, and routine in order to thrive…” Similarly, in All Joy and No Fun, Jennifer Senior writes that children “give us structure, purpose, and stronger bonds to the world around us.” When “grownup” equals “parent,” it does become routine and prosaic, which, often unexpectedly, provides comfort and joy.

It makes me think of parenting as an abstract expressionist painting ~ a confusing mixture of chaos and color and uncertainty somehow held together on the canvas with breakfasts, naps, homework, and bedtime.

Watching all those Facebook 10-year videos a few weeks ago, which captured many years of our lives in just one minute of photos and status updates,  drove home for me just how much of our adult lives are about the mundane and, for many of us, the routines of life with children. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t joyful and exciting. Consider this one of mine from last week:

I was so excited I even spelled “poop” wrong!

In fact, reviewing my Facebook timeline and recent social media updates revealed a lovely alchemy of extraordinary and ordinary moments:




Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.09.02 PM

Being a grownup has meant returning to the exciting cycles of the kid year:



It’s experiencing the profane and the profound from my children {and myself!}:



Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.10.21 PM.png

It’s watching my children, and me, grow and change:


1st birthday!


twitterBeing a grownup means an entirely new routine:


“[W]e find ourselves surprised by delight in the ordinary moments and the modest pleasures of everyday life.”

Katrina Kenison

We hear these days that Facebook is no longer cool because it’s been overrun by grownups and parents and grandparents and old people, and is comprised of the mundane and quotidian and ordinary. But I think that’s what makes it extraordinary.


Today’s post is part of the Finish the Sentence Friday linkup, which I am thrilled to be co-hosting this week!!! Today’s prompt is “The most unexpected part of being a grownup is…” You can link up right here, and click on the images below to read more!

Sarah Rudell Beach
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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
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  1. says

    Totally made me smile, because I totally share my worth in weight of all the ordinary moments here too and enjoy every minute of it to the fullest that I can. And that definitely is extraordinary to me, too. Thanks so much for the wonderful sentence to finish this week and for co-hosting with us. Seriously, so happy to have you join us!! :)
    Janine Huldie recently posted…The Most Unexpected Part of Being a Grownup Is…Oh How the Times have ChangedMy Profile

  2. says

    Oh those mundane moments. I love it when my two kids and I rehash them. I’m surprised at what they both remember. Like that time I told them about being five and being so angry that I wasn’t allowed to eat brownies right before dinner. I swore then that “my kids will be able to eat brownies any time they want.” They never fail to remind me of that. Oops.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…In A Blink of an EyeMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      You are so right, Kelly, about how they remember a lot of the daily things we do. I love social media for this — it’s like a journal and it’s so fun to look back at how we spent our days.

  3. says

    I love that you added these glimpses into your family life and I love it when you’re funny.

    It’s funny, but I’m actually very much on the same page with your daughter (at age four) stating that being a grownup is about eating everything you’re not allowed to as a child… I often still marvel at the fact that I can just have ice cream whenever I choose to and then it gets really meta as I look at myself marveling at that and think “you’re such a baby!”.
    Katia recently posted…BabooshkaMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      I guess it is revolutionary when you think of it. I’m allowed to have popcorn for dinner, or no dinner at all, if I want!

  4. says

    I loved reading your FB status’s and tweets…adorable indeed!

    I agree the FB video show our lives as an adult so dull but then we all have a goal…a mission to make our kids reach theirs thus, am glad we all are marching on that path…with confidence even though with some aches and pains here and there cause becoming an adult that is our side-product 😉
    ruchira recently posted…What to expect from a grown up?My Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      And really, life with kids can be so many things but certainly not dull! I love being able to share at least a few highlights during the day!

  5. says

    I haven’t read that book but I love love what you said about the extraordinary becoming the ordinary. It’s funny how, as kids, we think adults have all of this power and freedom, when in fact, we so easily fall to routine. And, it’s the routine that our children will appreciate later, so much. That they’ll embrace, and miss. They’ll say “remember how mom always _____?”
    Which is mostly what it’s all about. Also? Popping (or pooping) in the toilet is huge, no matter how your sleep deprived self spells it. Love.

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      I know, Kristi, we are going on ONE FULL WEEK now of no accidents. I never thought this would happen. We … [knock on wood] could be diaper-free in this house soon for the first time in 7+ years!!!!!

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Oh, potty training is such a nightmare. And my son is … gulp … almost 5! But we’re making progress!!

  6. says

    You’ve hit upon something so thoughtful. As kids, all we want to do is grow up. And at some point, we realise that it’s not as fun as we thought it would be. Only as parents do we come to appreciate the ordinary moments with our children.
    Tarana recently posted…My best parenting decisionsMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      So true… now I love the weekends when “nothing’s going on” and the evenings of just being at home. Boring but delightful :)

  7. says

    You picked a fantastic prompt this week simply because we get to open our eyes and realize that yes, being a grown up is hard sometimes. But then there are still the moments that take our breath away or make us laugh until we cry. You are right, it is the best of both worlds. By the way, I love the sequel title!
    Sandy Ramsey recently posted…Being Grown UpMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      I’ve wondered that, too (about myself, I mean). I love the part in Kenison’s book about how much we focus on the extraordinary (especially in terms of pushing our children) can distract us from the beauty all around us.

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks… It’s weird feeling like things are so out of control and yet we live such structured routine lives all at the same time!

  8. says

    congrats on hosting. Well done with the post babe…you truly hit the nail on the head. It’s the every day moments that make life worth living. Each moment that will last forver in your heart. I am cryings….sniffles…if only we could hold onto to these wonderful moments forever

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, Karen. It is such a tension between remembering to hold onto the awesome times and reminding ourselves that the bad times will fade quickly too.

  9. says

    Such an astute point that as kids we think “no rules” and it is just so far from the truth . . .assuming you’re a law-abiding adult with responsibilities. My daughter is always saying that when she’s an adult she’ll eat all the candy I want. Too bad there are consequences for that too! Can’t get away with much when we’re older!
    Nina recently posted…In Honor of My Mom’s BirthdayMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Yes, I suppose there are a lot of adults that don’t fall into the “responsible” category. My daughter also imagines a day of eating all the candy she wants… oh, if only that worked as an adult :)

  10. says

    What a fun way to look back! I love all the pictures and tweets. I agree with you that ordinary is wonderful with regular glimpses of extraordinary. I don’t think my heart could handle that much sparkle every day. :)
    Jennifer Steck recently posted…Adult ChoicesMy Profile

  11. says

    True. True. True. I spent my 20s seeking adventures and traveling. It was a stage of life in which I didn’t appreciate the simplicity of daily routine – a trait of many 20-somethings, I’m sure. I had a very hard time settling down after I had my first child and stayed home full-time. I was still seeking adventure and was stressed if I didn’t have something exciting planned for each day. I remember one day when I called my mom in tears because I was upset about having nothing planned that day. I’ll never forget what she said: “Just sit down, hold your baby, and watch the Today Show.” She already understood the joy of an ordinary day. Four years later, I am settling into a routine with two kids and learning to truly appreciate the simplicity of our daily life. Great post. Thanks for mentioning those two books. I’m definitely going to read them.
    elizabeth recently posted…You’ve Got a Friend in MeMy Profile

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