Motherhood

How Did You Picture Adulthood as a Kid?

When I was 10 years old, I told my mom something shocking…

I wanted to wear pantyhose to school. My mom was worried: her little girl was growing up so quickly! She talked to her friend about whether she should let me and they decided yes. So, the next morning, I proudly walked down the stairs wearing my new pantyhose from the drugstore — tucked right into my scrunched white socks. And then my mom knew I was still, very much, 10 years old.

On Instagram a while back, I read a funny caption from my friend Reagan: “When I was a little girl, I had a list of sins I couldn’t wait to sin as a grown up — watching ‘Pretty Woman,’ French kissing a boy before marriage, and holding a glass of alcohol and a cigarette with the same hand were a few of them. I love remembering what child me imagined adult me would be like, it’s so cute! Also, I have never been a smoker but I have checked these things off the list (some like a million times) and added a few other really fun sins that I hadn’t heard of yet as a kid.”

Another big dream of mine was to go on a dinner date to TGIFridays, and I couldn’t wait to go grocery shopping by myself!

What did you dream about doing as a grown up? I’d love to hear…

P.S. Three word that changed how I parent, and 16 surprising parenting tips.

(Photo by Jakob Lagerstedt/Stocksy.)

  1. Karen says...

    Not like this.

  2. I knew that I would have made it as an adult, if once I woke in the morning, I would snap my fingers and a butler would appear with a can of whipping cream, and would give me a mouthful of whipped cream. First experience every single day. ;) I guess I’m not fully grown yet!

  3. Blanche Gonzalez says...

    I thought I was going to eat a whole package of oreos every week when I became an adult. :/

  4. Annie says...

    You know those stupid “day to night” fashion spreads in magazines? Outfits where you just add a scarf or heels and then you’re off to some fab event. That is how I pictured it. Looking like Jennifer Aniston. Somehow, the real days never look like that, and I didn’t realize how much I would want to be home at night, LOL

  5. Milly says...

    I remember my one good reason to grow up was so that my bottom would one day fill the whole toilet seat!

  6. Kelly says...

    I had this strange image of me as an adult in a white tank top and jeans working on my car with the hood popped. I’ve never owned a car and barely like to drive, but for some reason that was very adult to me as a child.

  7. Irina says...

    Is it odd that I didn’t have any dreams related to adulthood when I was a kid? I did entertain several career options including fashion designer and poet, and sometimes I thought having three kids might be nice, but I didn’t spend much time fantasizing about any of it. The truth is that I really hated the idea of growing up. I actually sobbed on my 10th birthday because I realized that my age would never be expressed in single digits again. I’m more relaxed about birthdays now but still very keenly aware of, and made anxious by, the passage of time.

    • I can relate to this! I was sentimental even as a little kid.

    • I relate to all of this whole heartedly! I remember vividly staring at both my hands while holding them up on my tenth birthday and thinking “this is the last year I will be able to show someone my age using my hands” , and that thought made me feel like I was no longer a child. I am 31 now and continue to have a fresh new set of anxieties with each year.

  8. Joanna Tsay says...

    I have two funny memories from childhood. One was when I was about 4 or 5, getting a shot at the doctor’s office, and I heard the doctor say that the next time I had some particular vaccine would be when I was 11. And I thought to myself, “11?? Will I ever live that long?” Lol, seemed like an eternity to get to 11. The second memory was thinking that I would be ALL GROWN UP at age 18, and I had a distinct image in my mind of what that looked like. Part of it was having a job and owning a house and my sister and I used to play a game called what’s your dream house. My dream house had 100 floors, one floor was dedicated to candy and I would have a whole drawer full of watches.

    I’m 39 now. Work, marriage and two kids later, I think I finally feel a tiny bit grown up.

  9. A says...

    Growing up in Ireland watching “Full House” I wanted to move to San Francisco as an adult and own one of those beautiful houses. Instead I stayed in Ireland and custom built my home in the middle of the countryside. It looks nothing like those San Francisco houses! I’ve travelled a lot as an adult but oddly enough I’ve never been to America. Maybe I should add San Francisco to my travel list when we can actually safely travel again.

  10. Sarah says...

    I envisioned having a career, getting married and having children.

    At 22 I started working in a big city as an oncology nurse. I got to see culture, started traveling and partying. It was only supposed it last a year, but I stayed until I turned 37. I learned about myself, the world and life.

    Eventually I became a wife and mother but I’m so happy for my detour, even with all the ups and downs that come with single life (:

  11. Sally says...

    My main concern was about having to balance the checkbook at the end of each month. How quaint!

  12. Olivia says...

    As my mother reminded me when I said I was dreading leaving my baby when I go back to work in 6 months (very fortunate to be taking 12 months maternity leave), apparently as a child I told my mother presumably when she was dropping me off and I didn’t want to go, that I would never send my children to day care and when asked how I would afford not to work I replied that I would marry a rich man. Well , my husband is currently running his own start up company so the juries still out for which way it’ll go!

  13. Mary says...

    I wanted to be able to eat a whole bag of Oreos. Not just one! All of them at once! As an adult, I have zero desire for Oreos, so I guess this is an abandoned childhood dream?

    • gayle says...

      but have you tried the mint ones? wait, better not

    • Amelia says...

      Now they have the “enrobed” version, which is literally Oreos coated in a thick layer of chocolate! Have you tried it?

  14. Jesse Fulcher says...

    When I was four I was dancing in the back of the car to “Girls just wanna have fun” when I stopped suddenly and exclaimed “That’s not true! I want a home, a family, and a job in the workplace!” Funnily enough 25 years later i’m a single, renter who is bouncing between teaching jobs. but I have a place to call home, a loving extended family and workplaces that value me. So I guess 4yo me would be proud.

  15. Emily says...

    When we were little, my best friend and I wanted to live in a house attached to a McDonald’s and live together with our families. I can still picture us walking on a school ice skating trip going into deep details about the connecting door between the house and the McDonald’s. That was 30 years ago, and I’ll be honest the idea of having easy access to some McNuggets now wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

    • Amanda says...

      This is so funny – I had a VERY vivid dream as a kid that we had a mini McDonald’s connected to our house. I remember waking up and running around the house looking for the McDonald’s and being extremely disappointed/confused that it was just a dream. Maybe they should look into home-McDonalds hybrids as a new concept…

    • Emily says...

      That would be a dream! Fries at any time of day or night!

  16. SP says...

    I thought being an adult meant I would travel for work– no specifics on the actual job, but I just knew I would be on lots of airplanes and sleep in lots of hotel beds. Seems dreamy, especially now! I also was 100% positive that I would have a lofted bed with a slide.

    Neither of these have proved true, but I do still sometimes get a little thrill when I wear my favorite blazer to work!

  17. Kathryn says...

    At my 20 year high school reunion a teacher arranged to have letters we had written to ourselves during our senior year delivered. While my 18 year old self would for sure be disappointed in the lack of glamour in my life, my current self has a life that is so much deeper and richer than I could have imagined as an 18 year old.

  18. Elizabeth says...

    I think about this all the time, primarily in terms of aesthetics. I was certain my apartment would look like Monica Geller’s and be filled with things from Pier 1. I’m still a little heartbroken that the trends I wanted to jump on in adulthood were gone/passé by the time I arrived. When Pier 1 went out of business this year, it felt like the official end of my youth.

  19. Sasha Whitcombe says...

    Having my own car with all my girly supplies (fancy sunglasses, perfume) was the ultimate definition of adulting for me!

    • N says...

      Same! Around 10 and 11, I would hold my mom’s car keys if we were out running errands and I’d jangle them loudly as we walked so that passersby would think “oh look at that cool adult, she probably drives a car. Cool.”

    • Elizabeth says...

      I’m in my 30s and I STILL feel cool when I’m holding my car keys in public.

  20. Alex says...

    I literally could not wait to get my period in fact I lied about it about a year before I got it to the other girls at school *facepalm*

  21. Kirsten says...

    This is such a great question. I can’t remember specifically what I thought my life would be but I remember SO distinctly the way the teachers high heeled shoes click clacked in the hallways at my school. I remember thinking that sounding like that when you walked was almost certainly THE sign of adulthood.

  22. Liz says...

    For me it was having a super serious career where I wore shoulder pads and had a box in my office for petty cash. Needless to say, the movie Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead definitely left it’s mark on 8 year old me. 😂

    • Elena says...

      Hahahaha, “I’m right on top of that Rose!”. I loved that movie and definitely thought it was all very grown up.

  23. Mona says...

    My sweet daughter was about 8, and feeling very loving one night. A product of vigorous anti-drug education in school, she confided, “Mom, I just want you to know that when I get older and I go to parties, I will never ever drink a Coke unless I tell you first.”

  24. Jena says...

    As a kid, my friends and I never played “family” but we’d play “dorm”! Pretend that we were independent, single moms of babies living in dorm rooms! Makes me giggle every time I think of it. Not sure if it was because no one wanted to be the dad or if it was a desire for independence.
    Then, when I was finally living in a dorm, my best friend and I would dream about our first apartment. I remember walking arm in arm down the street naming things we’d have in our apartment and exclaiming “lamps!” “Omg we’ll have lamps!!!”

  25. CoffeeSLP says...

    I thought all grown ups got dressed up on NYE and went to the Nurse’s Ball (this concept courtesy of “General Hospital” during school breaks). I am 48 and my NYEs have been a bit of a letdown.

  26. Laura says...

    Driving! I couldn’t wait to learn to drive! I would have dreams about it all the time, the feeling of the steering wheel in my hands, the freedom to go wherever I wanted. When I turned 16 I took Driver’s Ed at 7am on Sunday mornings which was the only time I could fit into my busy school and athletic schedule. The night before my 17th birthday my mom allowed me to drive ALONE to my friend’s house (literally 1/10th of a mile away) and I can still remember the exhilaration! I have to say the magic hasn’t completely worn off. I love my little VW Golf, and sometimes I take my 2 year old for rides just for something to do :-)

  27. Sequoia says...

    I wanted to move to San Francisco. I grew up in a high rise apartment with a view of the city and I thought (and still do) that it was the most beautiful city in America.

    I thought I was going to move to San Francisco, a quick bridge ride over from Oakland. I was going to live in a beautiful Victorian apartment with a bay window, high ceilings and crown molding (all of these things were KEY to the dream). Iwas going to have a china cabinet and candle stick holders. Oh and a library, what’s more adult than a book collection? I was going to wear chunky sweaters and walk down to the neighborhood restaurant where everyone knew me and I ran into friends and neighbors. I’d drink red wine and discuss books with my erudite friends.
    I was going to wear a silk robes and take long baths in my claw foot tub! Oh and dinner parties! I thought they were so elegant. Little me wanted a causally glamorous life (very 90’s SF). Somebody should have told me what coding was and that the dream was around $10k a month. Alas I never been able to afford to live there, and nearly nothing else exists anymore. I’m still sad about it, I didn’t have a backup plan and my real life is decidedly unglamorous. But this was still fun and I love reading everyone else’s.

    • SP says...

      omg what a dream! fun to think about!

  28. Clre says...

    Pictured my adult apartment filled with inflatable furniture. The ultimate in cool!

  29. Kim says...

    Driving a stick shift and using the ATM

  30. Anna says...

    My mom went back to nursing school in her thirties when I was 6. For an assignment she had she asked me to draw a doctor’s office. I LOVED to draw so my mom asking me to draw something that seemed very important was a big deal. I drew adults with various injuries all wearing very drab turtlenecks- gray, brown, black. I later discovered that she has redrawn the picture in brighter colors and no turtlenecks. I remember being very upset because I thought I had done a great job representing adults- sitting in a boring waiting room wearing boring colors and boring clothes. Now being an adult often does feel like wearing a gray turtleneck in a waiting room sometimes haha

    • Christina says...

      I love this :D

  31. hanna says...

    I’ve always been a rule follower (goody two shoes) so I think I barely dreamt of being an adult because I was too busy following rules. As I sat in my first big lecture hall class in college, I had the realization that at any time, without asking permission, I could get up and leave the lecture hall and absolutely no one would care. From there, my independence realizations have continued to grow (that was 10 years ago) and to this day I cherish these little freedoms.

    • Erika Abbas says...

      I vividly remember thinking that the first thing I would do as an adult with my own refrigerator would be to always have cookie dough available…just for eating, not for baking. That, and staying up as late as I wanted. The epitome of freedom!

  32. Jenny says...

    As a middle schooler I remember thinking that being an adult meant you had a car. More specifically, you had your own car key. I recall my parents and other adults chatting in the parking lot after church casually holding their keys. I couldn’t wait until I had my very own car key (on a fancy key ring) so I could be a grown up. Back then I didn’t know about insurance rates, inspections, registration costs, maintenance/repairs, or the price of gas! I just wanted the key!

    • AI says...

      I relate to this so much! Also I so badly wanted to have a “adult” handbag (a big black tote bag) full of my own adult stuff like a wallet and all the exciting bank cards and IDs and receipts.
      I would loooove to be 6 again with a sparkly purse full of only chewing gum, skittles and a few coins (essentials!!)

  33. Hayley B says...

    Showing my age here, but as a kid I remembered wanting so badly to “use” my brother’s typewriter and him STERNLY forbidding me to touch it for fear I’d “ruin” it, which only increased its appeal to me. It always seemed such an adult thing to be able to tap clickety-clackety away on typewriter keys — oh to be able to push that lever at the end of each line and it hear it go “ding!” and then slam the cartridge back to the left to start a new line! It seemed like the height of sophistication to my 8-year-old self! I imagined myself writing The Next Great American Novel and becoming a bestselling author if only I could get access to it! And then later when PCs became the next big thing and my brother got one, again I wasn’t allowed to use it because I was deemed “too young and too dumb“ to be able to not mess it up. I don’t even understand where my bro’s extreme phobia came from, I was never a destructive kid — my older siblings could leave their homework and books or whatever on the low hall table where they did their homework within easy reach of my fat little fists and even as a very young child (big 10+ year age gaps between them and me) I had been trained so well that I never even touched their things, much less destroyed anything. Yet his oppression of me continued…

    Maybe it’s that early childhood obsession with typing and all its inherent associations with wordsmithing (I pictured Hemingway typing away in exotic locales and other writers I admired ripping out paper after paper and muttering under their breaths when writer’s block hit, how very glamorous!) but I definitely came to adore the written word and coming up with my own prose. The novel may still be a work in progress but I’m definitely living the dream working as a journalist!

  34. Well, when I was a little girl I thought I would live one day in mountains in Switzerland and have two St Bernard dogs. The reality looks different. I live in city in the United States and have two chihuahuas!

    • Juliette says...

      This one made me smile :) Greetings to you from an expat happily living in Switzerland (although no dogs yet)

    • nadine says...

      Hahaha this made me smile. Your chihuahuas are lucky to have you :)

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      Growing up I had a “dog fund” that I put money into for YEARS saving up for a St. Bernard!! I finally saw one in real life a couple of years ago and it blew my mind how GINORMOUS they are! So glad my parents re-directed me a Shiba Inu instead!

  35. Anna says...

    For me being an adult meant reading a newspaper in the morning and knowing the name of the president+ the name of the French president + all their gang!

  36. Ali says...

    I swore I would have chocolate milk in my fridge at al times….

  37. Allison says...

    My 9 year old is very excited to be able to go grocery shopping by herself! She went by herself to mail a letter that needed a stamp at the post office a few weeks ago and that was a huge event.

  38. Caitlin says...

    I used to be so enchanted by the junk drawer in my childhood kitchen. So many treasures: coins, dice, cassette tapes, loose screws, spools of thread, my mom’s tattered address book. I remember my mom once saying something like “everyone has a junk drawer” and I took her word as gospel! I couldn’t want to grow up and have my own junk drawer full of treasures. I guess I am not totally sure if *everyone* has a junk drawer, but every time my husband says something about it I insist it is my right as a grown adult to have a junk drawer.

    • Christina says...

      We had one too! And now I have one :-). That’s twice as big a statistical proof!

    • Laura says...

      In my husband’s family they call this the “drawer by the door” because for what we reason the junk drawer is always closest to the door!

    • Erica says...

      Yes!! My husband and I just moved to a bigger house and as we were unpacking our kitchen, I pointed to a random drawer in the corner and said “that can be our junk drawer”. “What’s a junk drawer?” he asked. I didn’t know how to respond because:
      1. Isn’t it obvious?
      2. How have you spent your whole life deprived of a junk drawer?!
      I for one am very excited to have our own junk drawer. We have finally made it.

    • Agnes says...

      Junk drawers are definitely a thing!!

    • Sequoia says...

      Junk drawers are definitely a thing, I hadn’t realized there are people in the world without random nonsense that persuades you not to discard it. I’ve tried getting rid of mines several times but it always returns!

    • Leah says...

      100%. Everyone has a junk draw. Right? It is always the bottom draw in the kitchen. Great things can be found there.

    • I though I would’nt have a junk drawer because I would be way more organized than my parents! I now have two junk drawers, one in the kitchen and one in the office!

  39. Susannah says...

    When I was younger, I envisioned living by myself with cats and dogs in a cozy house in Maine with a big garden where I could grow vegetables.
    I also dreamed of living in a cozy apartment in New York with a cute kitchen where I could drink wine and have all of my own space.
    I think the common denominators are my own space and being cozy and comfortable. I really loved decorating my room and always imagined how I would decorate my own spaces as an adult.
    I still love decorating and have lived in several New York in cozy apartments. We’re saving to buy a home in the next 5 years, so I’m envisioning that house to be my cozy farmhouse with space for a garden and cats and dogs.

  40. Hillary says...

    I pictured myself living in a major city and working in theater, going out to eat all the time, and living in a cool (but not fancy!) apartment. I also wanted to eat junk food whenever I wanted.

    I lived most of that life in my 20’s (except the theater part, ended up working in politics instead) and I have no regrets. I still have moments where I’ll eat candy or ice cream for breakfast and I imagine myself high-fiving my 6 year old self and being like, “This is awesome!”

  41. Ellie says...

    Haha this is a fun one! I have a few that I can remember:
    1. I thought my single girl apartment would be SO COOL a la Mary Tyler Moore on the MTM Show.
    2. I imagined I would have a company called Ellie, Inc (no idea what we would do) and as a CEO in Manhattan my town car would be red so everyone would know it was me.
    3. I think I expected to be taller (I’m 5 ft) haha

    • Sj says...

      Adulthood meant owning a dog, a house (check), having a full-time job (check), and drinking wine after a long day. It meant having serious, intellectual conversations and going on paid vacation.

  42. janine says...

    I always thought I would live in New York City (check!), have a cat (check! I had TWO cats!), drink a LOT of coffee (check!), and have a piano (sadly, no – having a piano and living in NYC are NOT compatible!) Now I live outside of the city, and I have a keyboard (and many other musical instruments) but not an actual piano. I have never learned to play the piano but when I was a kid I thought anyone with a piano in the house was really sophisticated.

    • em says...

      small note- we have a digital piano, and it works! definitely not the same if you’re used to an upright or a (gasp) grand, but you do get used to it. bonuses: you can have it delivered to you without being afraid that it could kill someone if they drop it, takes up way less space, and you can plug in your headphones and play at ANY time of day. it’s never too late to learn :) my piano teacher growing up had some adult students, and I look back on them with so much respect.

  43. .S. says...

    Mine definitely included signing credit card receipts, it seemed so glamorous and adult. Tapping a card to pay is convenient, but my inner 10 year old was kind of sad when you no longer had to sign for things!

    I also had a VERY romanticized view of university. I thought that it would be a magical, otherworldly experience filled with ivy covered buildings, worn leather armchairs, floor to ceiling bookcases, and soft golden light, where people who loved books and learning would sit around heavy wood tables with cappuccinos, laugh heartily, and fall in love with each other.

    I was sure that I would marry my high school best friend at 20 (presumably after we fell in love laughing heartily around that heavy wood table) and have my first kid when I was 24, which at the time seemed absolutely ANCIENT. I actually did end up marrying my high school best friend, but not until we were 30 and we’re hoping to spend a few more years just the two of us before we add a little to our family :)

    I also couldn’t WAIT to stay up late every night and buy whatever I wanted from the grocery store, including all of the things we never had at home (like sugar cereal or pop tarts) and like some commenters mentioned below, my childhood self would be SO disappointed that I go to bed at 10:00 and never buy sugar cereal or pop tarts, haha.

    This was so fun to think about!

  44. peg says...

    I dreamed of being able to buy endless packs of Hubba Bubba…
    Since arriving to adulthood, I don’t think even purchased one pack.
    Life is just full of suprises…hee hee.

  45. Ellen says...

    For some reason, I wanted to get divorced when I grew up. It sounded impossibly glamorous to me via some unfathomable kid logic(?). I would picture myself living a glamorous, worldly, independent life as a divorcee in a big city. My parents have been happily married for 40+ years, and divorce was very rare in the small town where I grew up, so who knows where I got this idea.

    As it turned out, I did end up getting divorced from my first husband, and I subsequently moved to a big city and actually did enjoy some fun years as a happily independent, occasionally glamorous divorcee before settling down again with my second husband.

    Kid-me would have been very proud!

    • charlie says...

      I find this so funny!
      I’m sure being a divorcee wasn’t quite what kid you imagined, but I’m so glad you got what you were looking for in the end.

  46. Aliez says...

    When I was quite small I was most excited to become an adult and go to work in an office and have my own desk stapler. Other office supplies played a part of this vision as well, but for some reason the stapler was the ringer of this adulthood dream. And of course, as a child of the 80s this vision also involved pencil skirts, nylons and runners – the runners a practicality, of course, so I could jump over sidewalk cracks on my way to this mythical office.

  47. Aliez Kay-Kuzik says...

    When I was quite small I was most excited to become an adult and go to work in an office and have my own desk stapler. Other office supplies played a part of this vision as well, but for some reason the stapler was the ringer of this adulthood dream. And of course, as a child of the 80s this vision also involved pencil skirts, nylons and runners – the runners a practicality, of course, so I could jump over sidewalk cracks on my way to this mythical office.

  48. I was going to have so many boys who were obsessed with me, and I’d reject them all scornfully, à la Elizabeth Bennet.
    I was also going to be a knitwear designer and run a blog where I talked about crafts that I was making.

    Turns out that being a grownup means you realize that guys are real humans with feelings, and rejection should be more like a gentle conversation.
    I do, however, still have 8 zillion creative projects going at one time. I don’t have a blog, but I do draw comics and post them on Instagram, which seems like the 2020 equivalent to me!

  49. Ashley E says...

    I couldn’t wait to be an adult and get to sign my name ANYWAY.I.WANTED. My mom had this big looping signature she would sign her checks with and I couldn’t wait until my penmanship was all my own! Now my signature is completely un-readable- Success! I also really wanted to scan groceries so badly… Self check out has really made all my dreams come true!

  50. Eli says...

    I pictured being an adult as “easy.” My mother was a stay-at-home mom since I was 4 and I have 4 siblings. My mom cooked dinner every night. The house was clean. We were “relatively” well behaved children with impeccable manners. My mom read books and sewed and baked and gardened. She always seemed “happy.” (Until I was old enough to know better). She dressed well, always. She had a great vocabulary and knew everything. She drank coffee (a rule in the house was coffee was only for adults). I wanted to be just like my mother, which meant being an adult.

    Being an adult was the equivalent of being my mom – superwoman. Now that I am 32 I know that she struggled EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 5 kids with a husband in the military who was mostly not home, but when he was he did repairs or mowed or washed the cars. I struggle to figure out what to eat for breakfast (usually just coffee), let alone a home cooked meal EVERY NIGHT! My home is clean, but it’s only me. I find that if I ask myself – most days I am unhappy. And I can’t fake it like my mom can.

    I don’t want to be an adult anymore. Thankfully, when life gets to be “too” much, I just call mom and she says, “Come on home.” So I do, and I get to not be an adult. Except for coffee. I’m allowed to drink coffee.

    • Mariana says...

      This comment moved me a lot.

    • Christina says...

      I wish I could call my mum…. but she got sick when I was 22 and as an only child to a divorced mum I had to grow up there and then. How it hurt during my twenties when friends and colleagues said that they would spend the weekend being spoiled by their mum. @Eli, I am happy for you to get to be taken care of by your mum still!

    • Eli says...

      So much love and hugs and affection to you @Christina! I don’t see her often, but when I do, I cherish it more and more.

  51. Alyson says...

    A library of my very own! The details vary — sometimes it was bright and light-filled, with dust motes dancing on the sunbeams. More recently it’s morphed to a cozy cave with floor-to-ceiling shelving and a rolling ladder (because duh) and a massive chaise lounge, preferably crushed velvet. I (fine; my dad, very patient/strong cousin, and later my husband) carried more than 100 books up and down stairs to my 5 apartments and 2 houses. I’ve paired back quite a lot but let’s just say these HGTV binges have me eyeing that unused closet and attic space in a whole new way.

  52. Megan Johnson says...

    As a child, I dreamed of driving a station wagon. Every time I’d see one, I’d point and tell my mom, “THAT’S the kind of car I want when I grow up!” I basically aspired to be a “Karen”–puffy vest, immaculately-organized handbag, three kids, a dog, road trips to the mountains with my loafer-and-braided-belt-wearing husband, haha! Of course, now the thought revolts me, but in many ways, I’m living the life that childhood-me imagined, with a few small differences that teen/young-adult-me finds very appealing–I have a motorcycle-riding, tattooed husband, a sassy stepdaughter, two poorly-behaved but very loving dogs, a Subaru, and a little house decorated with plants, photographs, funky artwork I’ve collected over the years.

  53. Kristine says...

    I have a distinct memory of a Helen Hunt movie scene where she unpacks plates in a lovely apartment after just moving in. I imagined myself growing up, renting an apartment with high ceilings and crown molding, and unpacking my beautiful belongings. Even when I got my first apartment (a small studio with an alley-view, a screaming radiator, and not a crown molding in sight) I relished in unpacking my thrifted plates. I was living the dream! The trouble was that in my fantasy, I didn’t get further than the plates. I never imagined the loneliness or uncertainty that would come with my first “place of my own.” Perhaps if I had known about those things, I would have been more fearful about the prospect of setting off on my own. I’m grateful to Helen and her plates for bringing a sense of excitement and accomplishment to a transition that may have otherwise been quite daunting. This year, I purchased my first house (11 years after that first apartment) and as I unpacked my plates I thought back to my childhood vision and somehow it seemed like I was an even more adult version of the adult I had imagined; I had made it.

  54. Olivia M says...

    As a child, I couldn’t believe adults could go to the movie theater on a weeknight, whenever they wanted to. (My family saved that for the weekend.) The movies on a weeknight! How wild and fun!

    My first week in college, I went to the movies on a Thursday just because I could… and it was thrilling! Pandemic aside, I don’t go to the movies during the week NEARLY as much as I thought I would (surprise surprise…LOL) but the excitement has never worn off :) #adulthood

  55. Nanaka says...

    As a kid, I knew for certain somebody was an adult when they could drive a car.

    But then again, I only realized I was a grownup, when nobody told me to stop eating cake as a proper meal. Score! :-)

    • Sequoia says...

      I

      I wanted to move to San Francisco. I grew up in a high rise apartment with a view of the city and I thought (and still do) that it was the most beautiful city in America.

      I thought I was going to move to San Francisco, a quick bridge ride over from Oakland. I was going to live in a beautiful Victorian apartment with a bay window, high ceilings and crown molding (all of these things were KEY to the dream). Iwas going to have a china cabinet and candle stick holders. Oh and a library, what’s more adult than a book collection? I was going to wear chunky sweaters and walk down to the neighborhood restaurant where everyone knew me and I ran into friends and neighbors. I’d drink red wine and discuss books with my erudite friends.
      I was going to wear a silk robes and take long baths in my claw foot tub! Oh and dinner parties! I thought they were so elegant. Little me wanted a causally glamorous life (very 90’s SF). Somebody should have told me what coding was and that the dream was around $10k a month. Alas I never been able to afford to live there, and nearly nothing else exists anymore. I’m still sad about it, I didn’t have a backup plan and my real life is decidedly unglamorous. But this was still fun and I love reading everyone else’s.

  56. Kayleigh Collins says...

    When I was a child always imagined falling asleep with my head on my husbands chest. The funny thing is I actually hate sharing a bed or being hugged while falling asleep. What do people do with their arms?!
    The other thing I would imagine a lot was my adult home and how I would design it. It was very grand and extremely tacky haha

  57. Brooke says...

    I knew that as an adult I would stay up incredibly late every night and I would NEVER take a nap. Funny how wrong I was…I feel lucky if I’m in bed by 9 and I long for a nap daily!

  58. Sara says...

    Best things about being an adult (according to kid me):

    1) Eat candy whenever you want.
    2) No one to tell you when to go to bed.
    3) Buy all the toys.
    4) Every vacation to Disneyland.

    Not sure I have quite the same priorities now!

    Another funny thing I remember about being a kid is how differently time passes. When I was four I asked my mom why I wasn’t grown up yet since it felt like I had been alive for SO LONG. I am the mom to a four year old (and a six year old) now, and I try to keep in mind how much longer everything feels when the world is new to you.

  59. Kelly says...

    I always thought that being a grown-up meant talking with your hands while holding a glass of wine at the dinner table.

    I also definitely wanted a mini van, and to the use the parking brake.

    • Rme says...

      This made me laugh.

  60. Maya says...

    Disappointed that there isn’t any coverage of elections and conversations around this historic vote. Seems a bit silly to not post … anything about it this week.

    • Libbynan says...

      Thank you, thank you, for ignoring the election this week. It seems to be the sole topic of conversation everywhere you go. It’s been talked to death and I am sick of it. There is, literally, nothing more to be said. Bless you for not saying it .

    • Sequoia says...

      Nope. I voted, donated, I volunteered, and now I have mild chest pains at the thought of it all. Please bring on the distractions I need to recharge.

  61. Summer Green says...

    I love this! I always imagined a scene of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. A business woman in a stylish suit rushing down a busy, urban sidewalk in my tennis shoes with a beautiful pair of heels in my bag.

  62. katie says...

    I never fully feel like a adult, but…

    Child me wanted to write checks when I grew up.

    Teenage me wanted my hair styled at fancy salons and tailored clothes when I grew up.

    20s me wanted a beautiful house with a large kitchen so I could entertain friends when I grew up. She also wanted to travel the world.

    30s me wanted to be out of debt when I grew up. (See teenage me).

    40 year old me wants a black sedan and driver when I grow up.

    All were achieved minus the driver. I desperately want a driver.

  63. Sonia says...

    I honestly don’t remember wanting to do any adult things when I was a kid because being a kid was my ideal age!

  64. Adriana says...

    I was always jealous of my mom that she grew up so fast. I had a wonderful childhood, but it just seem to take so long until I could do things my way. And there was my mom, all grown up, making her own decisions… and now here I am telling my kids to stop growing up !

  65. Olivia says...

    When I was a kid I believed that prohibitions on things like using the sink or the stove were based on height–so as soon as you’re tall enough to use the sink yourself, you’re allowed to do it. One day I discovered that I was tall enough to reach the front doorknob, so I left and went for a walk around the block. Oh the glory! The air was so fresh! I loved this new life! Of course, when I returned home, my very panicked parents explained that I would not be allowed to leave the house of my own will UNTIL. I. WAS. 18! I was maybe four at the time, and I was completely devastated by this news. So my kid fantasy about adulthood had nothing to do with drinking wine or wearing pretty outfits– it was about leaving the house whenever I pleased. Now I have my own little kids, so we’re back to no one having that freedom. But it was great while it lasted!!!

  66. Heidi says...

    My daughter, who is now nine, has said as long as I can remember, that she will never get married, she will get her own job, so she can buy her own dinners. She will also be single and live in a house by herself and never have kids. She only said the other day: Well, if I do have a boyfriend, I don’t have to like the same things as him! I am so proud of her, as I was always under the impression growing up and as a young adult even, that I did have to like the same things as my boyfriend, and even stopped doing things I liked because of it.

    Her twin brother though, can’t wait to get married, and have lots of kids who will all live in the house with us.

    I am so curious at how their lives will turn out eventually. Will they still have the same dreams 10-20 years from now?

    • Angela says...

      Heidi, this is too weird! My 5 year old boy girl twins are the EXACT same. My son is going to have a bunch of kids and I’m going to watch them. He is never going to leave…. and now I fear Covid agoraphobia nailed that coffin shut. 😔
      My daughter is my hero! She is such a force already!

  67. Anna says...

    My biggest dream was to live with my best friend, basically so that life would be an endless sleepover. We fantasized endlessly about being roommates and what our apartment would look like – for some reason we really wanted a circle-shaped bed!

  68. Deidre says...

    eat chocolate all day, wear make-up, silk and heels, and – wait for it – menstruate.

    • Marie says...

      This made me laugh out loud. I was so embarrassed when I first got my period (sadly my parents didn’t have open conversations about anything) but my cousin was overjoyed! She went around telling everyone, she called grandma with such enthusiasm. I was so stunned she was so proud of it, remembering it now makes me smile 😊

  69. Esther R. says...

    I found my Kindergarten assignment the other day—when I grew up I was going to be a pregnant ballerina (!). 25 years later and I still love dancing every now and then and am an aunt to two beautiful girls. Not quite the same, but still pretty exciting :)

  70. Lulu says...

    I always dreamed of living in a Queen Anne style house with a turret. And I was going to be a book editor and read all day. And my husband would be rich so I could hire maids and never have to do any chores. And my house would be decorated with futons, papasan chairs and hammocks and chairs hanging from the ceiling, spider plants and giant palm trees and a scarlet macaw out by the pool.

  71. Julie says...

    This is a great question. I always pictured myself wearing formal business attire at work somewhere.
    I had a funny experience a few years ago at a very fancy bar. Looking around the room I had a thrill because it was exactly what I had imagined being an adult would be like. It isn’t really my thing to be out at fancy cocktail bars but there was a lot of (unexpected) joy in satisfying my inner kid!

  72. Elle says...

    When I was in grade school my friends and I practiced adulthood by smoking cigarettes (but not inhaling because we didn’t know to), wearing a bra before we needed to, and wearing a maxi pad before we menstruated. Makes me laugh now because I haven’t thought of these memories for so, so many years.

  73. Nicki says...

    This is kind of embarrassing but when I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch “normal” mainstream movies. I watched a ton of musicals and classics like the king and I, all of the movies with Shirley Temple, Esther Williams, Fred Astaire, Betty Grable… you get the idea. So as a child, my idea of adulthood included ballgowns and parasols. Which is so weird, because if I had actually considered the adults that I knew in real life, I really should have known the difference.

    • E says...

      I watched The King and I over and over as a kid!

  74. Michele says...

    I wanted to be Julia Roberts in under the Tuscan Sun: 30-something, accomplished, riding a bike in a lovely floral skirt with my hair in a pony tail. The divorce didn’t phase me. And here I am, loving every minute of my 30s! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this decade my whole life.

    • Michele says...

      Also: it’s not even actually Julia Roberts, but that’s who it was in my mind’s eye. Brown hair was key to the look.

  75. Mishka says...

    As a kid, I couldn’t wait to have keys! The jingle, the key chain, and getting to say things like “Let me grab my keys.” Such a thrilling idea, and so grown up! My mom was weirdly strict about me having a house key (despite my being an honor student who NEVER got into trouble), so I didn’t get my first key until I was 18. I felt like such a badass once I had it, though. I’m a little ashamed to admit I’d “casually” say things like “Where’d I put my keys?” even though I knew exactly where they were. #nerd

    • J. says...

      YES KEYS!!! I 1000% relate to this. Whenever my mom would let me go grab something from the car and I got to hold the keys, I was like “wow, I am ~*impossibly*~ cool,” even though a) literally nobody saw me doing it and b) even if they did, the conclusion was definitely not “woah, look at that adult who can definitely drive” because I was…9. It’s funny now because I am a chronic misplacer of keys – I used up all of my love for them early in life!!!!!!

  76. Ann says...

    Mine were all based on teachers I had. I wanted lipstick rings on my coffee mugs, clicky clacky heels, and thick thick fingernails.

    I’m a teacher now, and my students comment on my earrings, my boot collection, and my book stacks all around the room.

    • Anna says...

      My sister and I had only goal, one dream about the possibilities of adulthood, and it was this: to buy the largest block of Double Gloucester cheese we could afford and eat it whole, without slicing it – just to bite right down on it as if it was a sandwich. I think about it every time I eat an enormous chunk of cheese. But she’s a vegan now, so her dream can never be realized!

    • I love this, especially book stacks all around the room!

  77. Anonymous says...

    So fun to read through these! I thought that I would need many more “day to night” outfits–you know, to carry me through all of those evenings when I would go straight from work to drinks to the club. Also, quicksand!

    More than anything, though, I thought that being an adult would mean that I would finally be able to live life on my own terms. Unfortunately, that dream weighs heavily on my shoulders now. I feel like I am always on the verge of drowning in a sea of office work and emails and stupid-expensive medical bills–all on someone else’s terms. I have such a longing to just break free from it all, take back control of my time and my health and my life. But then I don’t know how I would pay the bills. Sigh. Anyone else feeling this way recently?

    • AMK says...

      Sending love! 💕🌈

    • Alex says...

      Good luck dear one. I do feel that so much of adulting is realizing that the slog of life is necessary- and true freedom comes from finding the tiny moments within the slog and creating magic… mostly for yourself. I’m working on it.

      But medical bills implies health issues and those are often insurmountable. Do appeal to your health system social workers for help with payments, grants (perhaps for an illness you have a group has grants to offer support), and even money off electrical bills and such. Xoxox

    • S says...

      Yes! You are not alone! I discussed this with my therapist who suggested an incremental approach—do a little every day that is just for you. Doesn’t have to be anything grand or dramatic, but reclaiming that little slice of time is important. I’m having a tough time implementing this but it seems like a great idea!
      Ps I hope your medical bills settle down!!

    • Mary W says...

      Yes, I feel that way. This has been a really rough summer on the work and health front. The only positive thing is that through my own struggles, I’ve gained an enormous amount of empathy for others.

    • liz says...

      I am feeling that way too! Sorry to hear you’re also going through it.

      Also — i had the same thoughts when I was young about “day to night” outfits and the inevitability of running into quicksand lol

  78. Maureen S. says...

    I love reading these so much! I was SO EXCITED to have a 9-5 office job as a kid. I wanted an office with a whiteboard and chair that spins.

    I also imagined adulthood meant I’d have big boobs and a short bob haircut (guess all the moms around me had that in the 90s). I still am pretty flat chested but luckily realized I’m okay with that :)

    • Lynn Nguyen says...

      I took thought adulthood would mean a fancy job with a corner office. As I got older I thought I’d dress really chic in black and neutral colors and effectively become French haha

  79. knflickinger@gmail.com says...

    I always looked longingly at the individual slices of cake at the grocery store. My mom always said no. I swore when I grew up I would buy the cake.

    Shocker, I did it one day. It wasn’t very good. I make better cake, but I still look at it every time I walk by.

  80. Amanda Gust says...

    My gosh, I really had to think on this.
    I remember picturing myself “put together”, just like my friend’s moms. They were trim, dressed well, and completely focused on their children while also maintaining their own lives. The kind of moms you got excited to chat with after school.
    There was a lady who worked the ice cream stand on Fridays at school, she had 4(very handsome) sons and man, she looked like she had it all together. I heard a rumor that she woke up at 4am, ran on her treadmill and then baked something for the boys EVERY MORNING.
    My own mother struggles with mental illness so my memories of her are laying on the couch in sweatpants with a bag of chips, zoning to the TV, overweight, unkept, so I mustve been drawn to the idea of being a grown up who had it all together, predictable, stable, wore make up, etc.
    Also, errands. I couldn’t wait to run my own errands.

    • AJ says...

      I can relate, Amanda… xxx

  81. Julee says...

    *so cute, the TGiFridays dinner date*

    I dreamed of being beautiful, like my Aunt Sharon.
    I dreamed of hosting dinner parties.

  82. Emily L says...

    I wanted a sporty convertible and, since my grandparents owned a camper, I wanted to live in a camper by myself. Their camper was compact and cute with clever storage nooks everywhere, and I’ve always liked small spaces, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I also imagined going to restaurants by myself, getting what I wanted, and taking it back to my camper to eat in peace.

    Lastly, as a child of the 80’s and early 90’s, I imagined I could have clouds of hairsprayed bangs and long, red fingernails.

  83. Allegra LaViola says...

    As an only child in NYC I imagined myself having 8 children and living in the country. I now have 1 child and still live in NYC…so…

  84. Child/teenage me dreamed of hosting dinner parties, complete with candles, wine, and flowing conversation. There was something so “adult” about it – the guests, sharing a meal, sharing ideas. I’m happy to report that 34-year-old me has hosted countless dinner parties – all varied in food, style, and people – and I have to say, my childhood fantasy has lived up to its hype…even surpassed it!

  85. H says...

    I thought writing checks was the pinnacle of adulthood! I also remember thinking when I was maybe 5 or 6 that being an adult would be very capital-D-Dramatic: lots of men with broken hearts because of me, maybe even two men would fist-fight over me! I must have gotten the idea from the soap operas I used to sneak and watch if I was home during the day, because my own parents (and every adult I actually knew at the time) led very sedate, quiet Midwestern lives!

    • Catherine says...

      Have you seen the SNL sketch with Sandra Oh about that? If you haven’t, it’s on YouTube if you search “SNL Sandra Oh Checks” or “Cheques” –I know because my kids are obsessed with it and have even started saying the name of the cereal Chex in the super-dramatic voice they use in the sketch.

    • Kimberly says...

      And now I, too, will be whispering a seductive “cheques” when I walk down the cereal aisle as well …

      Thanks for sharing that SNL skit, Catherine! I needed the laugh today!

  86. Karin says...

    Mrs Robinson from “The Graduate” was the epitome of adult womanhood to me. While I certainly haven’t emulated any of her behavior re: cradle-robbing, for years I copied her style, including lots of black, animal print, and 60s-era silhouttes. (I still have a cherished leopard-print coat from my singleton/clubbing heyday.)

    I’ve been rather disappointed that adulthood has involved so few opportunities to 1) dramatically pull off my clip-on earrings before answering the phone or 2) plan assignations in hotel bars…

    • Caitlin says...

      Haha, yes! Way less clip-on action than I anticipated.

    • Sarah says...

      Hard relate to the clip-on earring pull off!

  87. Kamina says...

    For me it was the 3 Bs: I would have a bra, a boyfriend and a babysitting job!

    I was a huge Babysitters’ Club fan and I was in awe of the way Claudia Kishi always had candy hidden all around her room. When I got my first car at 17 I used to keep different candy hidden all around it. (I wasn’t allowed to have it at home!) I loved the thrill of telling my friends, “just reach under the seat and you’ll find some jelly beans” or whatever.

    When my husband and I were in our early 20s we shared a house briefly with a friend of ours, who had been living at home with his (pretty strict) mother up until then. Shortly after we moved in together he came home one afternoon gleefully carrying a small pre-packaged birthday cake from the baker, sat down at the kitchen table with it and started eating it. He’d just realised that, as an adult, he could just buy and eat a birthday cake in the middle of the day and nobody would stop him.

    • Susan says...

      I love how you copied Claudia :)

  88. Heather says...

    I pictured myself single and living in a cozy house on the harsh coast of Maine. My life is very different from what I pictured (married, kids, Southern California beachy coast). But, if I’m being honest, I still dream of Maine. Maybe when I retire ;)

    • Susannah says...

      Me too! I loved the idea of living on my own in a cozy house on the Maine coast with a garden, cats, and dogs. One day!

  89. SD says...

    These are so fun to read! The one resolution I remember very clearly as a child is that I hated pantyhose (or nylons, as my family called them) and determined that I would NEVER wear them once I was an adult and had a say in the matter. And lo and behold, my adult life is free of pantyhose and it is pure bliss.

  90. Nadine says...

    I guess I really wanted to get away from my parents & be independent. They weren’t exactly your typical suburban parents, but I wanted my life to be glamorous! I’d read Wifey & Scruples by the time I was 13, so I thought there would be a lot of sex.

  91. mar says...

    When i was a kid my biggest fear of becoming an adult was to having to pay taxes… i had nightmare about that hahaha poor me

    • Laurence says...

      That’s so cute and -sadly- realistic! Haha! What a wonderful kid you were.

  92. Chrissy says...

    My dream was to have many many magazine subscriptions. We didn’t have a lot of money, so it was out of the question then. I remember telling my mom I would have lots of magazines when I grew up.

    I also wanted fake acrylic nails. My teachers always had them so at home I’d put scotch tape on my fingernails!

    • Julie says...

      Oh my goodness, yessss. Scotch tape finger nails and magazines!

  93. Azure says...

    My 10 year old daughter told me she can’t wait until her face is bigger so that she can contour more. (Too many makeup videos maybe.)

  94. Bec says...

    I was obsessed with Gone with the Wind as a kid (though obviously I see it’s hugely racist and problematic as an adult). I legitimately believed adulthood would be scheming, seducing men, wearing incredibly dramatic outfits, and throwing glasses at the wall during a fight with my lover. I could not WAIT. Thankfully I grew up and don’t act like this at all – though I still adore all of Scarlet’s outfits

  95. Elizabeth says...

    When I was four, I wanted to be Patty Duke: a teen-ager who went on dates.
    In elementary school I wanted to be Ann Marie, the actress played by Marlo Thomas. I wanted a steadier job, though, but to this day I think she had the cutest clothes. In junior high, I dreamed of being Mary Tyler Moore: independent, a friend like Rhoda, fun co-workers, and again: really cute clothes.

  96. Catherine says...

    I was disappointed that middle and high school were not like John Hughes’ films, but looking back, thank goodness they weren’t!

  97. Kara says...

    I HATED emptying the dishwasher for some reason, and when I was 8 or so I told my mom I was going to get married when I grew up so that I would never have to unload the dishwasher again. Ha! I am married now, and that definitely did not pan out (in fairness, I only have to do it about half the time, so partial win).

    I also thought I would buy a farm when I grew up, with a big old rambling farmhouse, horses, apple trees, and a big shaggy dog. Now that I am a city-dwelling adult, that sounds like a total nightmare!

    • Liz says...

      As a forever urban dweller who tested the farm fantasy for 3 years: yep, nightmare!

  98. Claire says...

    Growing up my sister and I loved to play Office. We would use a big book as a copy machine, lifting the cover and setting a piece of paper inside to “copy” it. Pretending to answer phones. Sitting quietly pretending to type on computers, every now and then reaching over to click an imaginary mouse. We imagined it was so fun and interesting to work in an office. As an adult, I’ve done everything I can to avoid working in an office because I find office work to be painfully boring. Younger me would be so disappointed!

  99. When I was a kid my family rode the same bike route every weekend- we called it “the loop”. At the top of one particularly steep, 3 block hill there was a little stucco bungalow with a wide porch that looked out over the city. I made seeing that house the prize for reaching the top of the hill, and for the mile or so after I would imagine what the inside of the house looked like and what it would be like to be an adult and get to decide exactly how I wanted my home to be. Low and behold, when I was 21 an apartment in that house showed up for rent on craigslist and I moved in! It was my first non-communal home as an adult and every bit as glamorous as I had imagined. I ended up living there for 3 years!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s so amazing, grace!

    • Hani says...

      I love this so much!

  100. Kat O says...

    I have a weird memory from when I was maybe 9 or 10, and I REALLY wanted to decorate my bedroom with beanbags and inflatable furniture. My mom told me that I could decorate however I wanted when I was older, and I was so sad because I knew I wouldn’t want those things when I was older, thus I would never have them. Which is silly, because obviously I would want what I wanted when I was older and not miss the beanbags, but I wanted to WANT the things I wanted when I was younger…it was a very meta experience for a fourth grader haha.

    • Ezz says...

      Omg, that is exactly where my 5th grader is right now! We’re in the foreign service and our house has been furnished by the embassies everywhere we’ve moved. She sooooo desperately wants a loft bed, and a pet hedgehog, and she’s convinced she won’t ever get to have them until it’s too late and she doesn’t want them anymore. It’s so sad, I wish I could help her out with those things, but… moving a cat internationally is hard enough – a hedgehog?

  101. Roxana says...

    My elementary and junior high school had “reading time” at the beginning of each day, and there were magazines and local newspapers provided if you didn’t want to read a book. I religiously thumbed through Better Homes and Gardens. In the back of the magazine, there was always a building plan and blueprints for different country cottage houses, and I loved to choose my favorites and imagine them as my future home. Fast forward *quite* a few years and while I’m not a homeowner, I’m still a sucker for scrolling through real estate listings.

    • Midge says...

      Oh, I loved those blueprints too. I always converted a bedroom into a library.

  102. Kaitlin says...

    My husband dreamt of having a 9-5 job, a family, and owning a house. He has one of those, and it’s the most worthwhile 😉

    I dreamt of being loved by someone other than my parents. I was a very lonesome child, and imagined grown-up life as a flurry of relationships — partners, friends, coworkers — that would just *poof* appear. But those moment of alone time that parallel my childhood are still some of my favourite.

  103. Amanda says...

    Are we still supposed to wear pantyhose or it that a thing of the past? I really have no idea..

    • b says...

      I don’t. In the before times, and when I lived where it was really cold, I’d sometimes wear tights with boots and dresses. Now, the last time I put on jeans was June.