On Being Grown

According to the law of the land, I am an adult. I can vote, I can work, I can own property outright, purchase firearms, buy alcohol, and, for the most part, be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law for any criminal action. These are the things that classify me as an adult. But when it comes to being “grown”, I’m not quite sure the exact qualifications of the term fit me.

There are three definitions for grown according to Merriam-Webster:

1. mature (having or showing the mental and emotional equalities of an adult; having a fully grown or developed body: grown to size; having reached a final or desired statue);

2. covered or surrounded with vegetation;

3. cultivated or produced in a specified way or locally.

I guess the first definition (mature) would be closest to what most people think they mean when they puff their proverbial chest out and use the term, but in my experience it seems what they really mean is the colloquial definition: feeling beyond reproach due to the second definition of mature. Can’t say that describes me at all.

It’s a term that has probably been uttered in various ways ever since the dawn of spoken words by young men and women seeking to cut apron strings and establish independence. But those who really meant it did more than just utter it verbally. Those were truly grown by definition allowed their actions to do the stating for them. They took care of their obligations and lived their life accordingly. They knew instinctively how to treat and respond to others in a way that didn’t diminish or demean their own sense of maturity or “grownness”. And they definitely don’t feel the need self righteously use the declaration as a shield against accountability fir their actions. Because grown people know they are anything but above reproof when the situation calls for such things.

I’ve birthed and nursed children, I’ve bed and wed men. That’s not what makes me grown. I’ve held down jobs, paid bills with little or no help, supported children, and a significant other a time or two. That’s not what makes me grown either. I’ve dressed up to party down, bought my iwn whips and bling, and done whatever “turn up” meant for my generation. Not even that makes me grown. What does, in my opinion, is knowing when it really all boils down to it… I still have more growing to do, and I welcome it humbly and without defense. It’s knowing I don’t have all the answers and realizing, with relief, that I don’t have to right now. I think on the high end I have another fifty or so years worth of falling down and getting up to do before I’ve reached a “final or desired statue”, so to defensively declare “I’m grown” to any form of reproach would be a lie of the highest proportions. You see, grown folk know that there’s room for development no matter how “grown” they are. And I’m blessed enough to know that even at the grown okd age of forty… I’ve only just begun.

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