Puttin’ On My Big Girl Pants

In my twenties, when I was as young and stupid as a brand new puppy dog, I had a co-worker who was a few years older. She was a new mother and I often asked her how things were going with the baby.

I’ll never forget her reply one time as it was as funny as it was true. She recounted to me a morning where her daughter (let’s call her Danielle) was sitting at the kitchen table in her high chair and just wailing. Nothing would pacify her, so her mother—as many new moms often do—was reaching the point of exasperation.

She heaved a heavy sigh, looked around the room (that was empty save for my friend and her daughter) and thought aloud to Danielle: “Oh how I wish your mommy could just swoop in and make things all better for you!” It was then that my friend realized that the “mommy” in this scenario—the only one around at the time to do the heavy lifting and the one to be the savior—was her.

As adults, how many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation? When faced with something that seems insurmountable, we look up, down and all around for someone who can save us from ourselves. Be it a knight in shining armor, a fairy godmother or a full-blown cavalry — we honestly hope (if only for a second) that there might actually be an easier way out. But often times this is not the case. Increasingly as we age the only one who can deliver us from the stiff challenges of adulthood is the very one who stands before us in the mirror.

In less than four months, my fiance has lost both his father and mother. And I have been unable to do anything but stand by and watch. Don’t get me wrong, I can lend a listening ear, fetch a sandwich or two and make the occasional phone call, but short of a miracle of biblical proportion, there is nothing else I can do but hold his hand and slog through the muck and the mire right along with him.

There have been numerous arrangements to be made and entire lifetimes of memories to be carefully sifted, sorted and packed away for safe-keeping. Not unlike my co-worker and her child in need of comfort—there is no one else around to do the heavy lifting. There is no knight in shining armor, fairy godmother or cavalry to swoop in and “make things all better” like when we were children. And similar to my friend in becoming a new parent… I’m certain there were no instructions in the handbook on how to do this.

This time there is only him and there is only me wandering aimlessly about in Grownupland. I can wish all I want for someone else to shoulder the burden and do the work. But at the end of the day I am met with the realization that adulthood in it’s purest form is when you’ve looked around and discovered there is nothing left to do but suck it up and put on those big girl pants — however reluctantly.


14 thoughts on “Puttin’ On My Big Girl Pants

  1. JT says:

    I am sure in the midst of this time it feels like the entire world has dropped on top of you both. Perhaps the incredible timing of you being there and not having outside employment was divinely orchestrated? In any event you are surrounded by those who love you and this time will pass and you will both be stronger for it. I know it’s cliche’ and I like you can only hear of the trial you are going through and have (like you) the same helpless feeling that there is nothing of practical assistance I can give you. 😦 Still knowing that your digital friends are here and as supportive as ever I hope provides some comfort in these difficult times.

  2. You have it in you, you can do it. Ask God to give you strength. I am so sorry for your losses. I had no idea that his father had passed also. Just remember one day at a time. Don’t rush emotions or chores. Cry when its time and rest when its time. Praise God for each other and the memories you have.

  3. I hope you come out of it closer and stronger… prayers to you and yours! We once lost 11 people in a 2 yr span, and it can be a very trying ordeal to pick up the pieces time and again, but hopefully you will soon find the light at the end of the tunnel….

    • I haven’t had the time or opportunity to respond to any of the comments on this post yet, but I am taking a moment to respond to yours before heading to bed. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement… it means more than you can possibly know.

  4. D says:

    Thanks for sharing, Joanna. You are a gifted writer, and putting your feelings and thoughts into words is healing. Now that my “baby” is 13, I still have plenty of those “Am I really the mom here?” moments, as well as a few from trying to help my 98-year-old grandmother. We will keep your husband and the entire family in our prayers in this time of loss and grieving.

  5. Donald Miller says:

    When I first began following your blog, I was delighted by how you could take every day events and turn them into a fun-to-read narrative. (Flushing a spider down the shower drain, and the associated guilt that came with it, for instance.) Those posts revealed your pleasant personality and happy go lucky nature. Now that you’ve gone through some difficult times, I also feel fortunate to read about what makes you tick. You have really shown what you’re made of, and it’s pretty good stuff.

  6. Donald Miller says:

    I’ve just been reminded of how quickly one’s world can be shaken. It’s not at the level of what you’ve gone through, but I have a fairly small world, and WordPress has been a big part of it. I’m not going to mention who she is (if she’s reading this she knows). But after she left an obscene comment, I went on to claim that I had palled around with two Popes and three presidents.

    Here’s the post. I thought it was hilarious. Someone at WordPress also believed it, for crying out loud. (Remember that story I wrote about the “Skydiving Incident”? and people were asking whether it was true. One person–not the one who turned me in–said she had to look up “fiction” in the dictionary.

    Anyway, I can still use WordPress, but in a more restricted way. I hope you get a laugh out of the post that caused me the trouble. I’m feeling a bit glum right about now, and I got a laugh from reading it–

    Gone But Not Forgotten, A Winner’s Memoir

    I’m getting on in years now. I’m not exactly what you’d call old, but I’m not young anymore. During the last several years, I’ve had a dramatic reversal of fortune. Whereas I once roamed leisurely around the globe, taking in all the pleasures that wealth and power could bestow upon me, I am now reduced to living in a single-wide mobile home in Sarasota Florida.

    Ironically, the dimensions of the place aren’t a great deal different from that of the Lear jet I owned in my more prosperous period. Nor is it much different in size than the quite expensive apartment I had that overlooked Central Park in New York. In short, while the amenities are not quite up to the standards of my previous life, the area in which I dwell is familiar.

    My reversal of fortune has not occurred without a mighty fight on my part. Due to an incompetent staff, “liberal” encroachment into free enterprise, and the “restrictive” laws and “regulations” imposed by the likes of Obama, I barely escaped 20 years to life in a Federal detention center. Nevertheless, the legal costs and the stress placed upon me by Big Brother Government bankrupted me financially and exhausted me physically. I escaped confinement in a 9’ by 6’ prison cell by the skin of my teeth. THAT would have been quite the unbearable reversal.

    The lifestyle I’m living in now isn’t too bad. I still have some funds from my Swiss bank account. This allows me to live with the necessities of a decently good life, but alas without the luxuries of which I am so fond and so used to having. Still I have my memories of better times, when I was a Master of the Universe and the world was my oyster and the company I was CEO of was my personal empire. I lived life to the max, while avoiding the maximum security prison to which the liberals in government were so hell bent on sending me.

    Thus, these are my personal memoirs of a life disrupted—but not ruined—by people interfering in the free market system that has made this great nation of ours. . . ahhh, I’m not a CEO of anything anymore, so I’ll spare you the incredible bullshit I was once so adept at spewing forth at corporate meetings and community “fundraisers” for “charity”. Ha! 95% of the funds went to me and my buddies, while 5% went to the “disadvantaged.” Which was five percent too much, for if not having more than two brain cells to rub together is disadvantaged, there were far too many of the little people to “help” than even a corporation as huge and powerful as mine was capable. We spent the money where we knew it would do the most good—on ourselves.

    Believe me when I tell you that it WAS money well-spent, my friends. I’ll be filling you in on the details of a life well-lived in these memoirs. If you happened to be one of the suckers who invested in the company, or one of the chumps who worked for us, you can share in a bit of what it means to be an important person for a few meager moments in your inconsequential life.

    I hope that didn’t sound . . . oh drat . . . I can’t think of the right word for it. I no longer have a PR man to help me pick the right “politically correct” way of phrasing things. But you know what I’m getting at. If you’re among the riff raff with whom I must now “rub elbows with” just consider my straight-talking statements as “non-pandering.”

    So, there you have it, my friends. I was once a proud member of the “obscene wealth club,” and now you can join in on some of the excitement that I had in those glory days.

    • I love it! You are so good at these fictional pieces, Donald. You really should write them all the time. Who cares if they “offend” people. Put a little disclaimer somewhere on the blog if you wish and the hell to anyone who doesn’t “get” what it is you’re “getting at” 😛 Then promptly send me link so I can subscribe! 😀

      • Donald Miller says:

        Thanks lots, Joanna. I needed a pat on the back right about now.

        AS it turns out, I managed to contact WordPress and it seems that one of their automated gizmos deactivated my site. Scary ain’t it?

        I think you just might like my new site. I steer clear of religion and politics, but I do let me creativity run amok. Just click on my logo and it will lead you to the new site. Check out the “About” page. Heh-heh.

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