It’s not adulting, guys, it’s just living

By Lisa Sugarman

There’s a pop culture verb floating around out there that I’m wondering if you’ve heard of yet. Maybe you recognize the word. Maybe you don’t. I mean, it is still pretty new. But make no mistake, the word adulting is real and it’s out there. And it totally fascinates me.

This new word, which I guess you could call a concept, has fast become a major buzzword out there in the mainstream, especially among millennials. Or with anyone talking about millennials. So if, by some freak chance, you haven’t come across it yet, you will. And now, when you do, you won’t feel stupid.doneadulting46

Personally, I feel like I’m hearing or reading about adulting everywhere lately; so it felt worthy of a little extra attention. Because I love a good cultural phenomena.

Before we talk about the actual word in any detail, though, like what it really refers to or how it even came to be, I think it’s important to understand why the word refers exclusively to millennials. So here’s a little history…

In simple terms, millennials, aka Generation Y, are the demographic born between the early 1980s and early 2000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they’re actually the largest living population on the planet right now. So the word adulting was coined especially for them.

It’s a clever adaptation of a very old and very plain word that’s got linguists around the world and all the lexicographers at salivating all over themselves. And that’s because, according to a recent article in, the word started out as just an ordinary noun and then evolved into a catchy verb that was then turned back into a clever noun. We’re talking Word-of-the-Year contender.

The guys at Urban Dictionary define it like this…

untitledAdulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grownups. Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

So to say someone is adulting has become a cheeky way of making fun of the fact that the majority of millennials are doing adult-like things much later in life than their baby boomer parents did, and their parents before them. In other words, millennials are getting married and having kids and buying houses and paying bills much later in life than past generations have, historically. Much, much later.

Ultimately (and unfortunately), that’s put millennials behind the eight ball when it comes to managing grown-up responsibilities. Which, in my opinion, isn’t good. And the simple reason why it’s not good is because these things that they’re putting off learning how to do are critical life skills that they can’t live without. Unless, of course, they’re planning on living in mommy and daddy’s basement forever.

Now sure, millennials are tech-savvy and more aware of what’s going on in the world than we were back in the day, but too many of them still don’t know what it means to pay rent or work fulltime or shop or cook for themselves. And that’s because they haven’t been expected to do those things the way earlier generations were. So consequently, they perceive those things (when they do do them) like accomplishments. Like they’re playing

What I find so interesting is that the very nature of the word adulting implies pretty heavily that growing up is a conscious choice rather than just a natural evolution. I mean, it’s just so funny to me that so many millennials are tossing around #adulting all over social media when they do things like cook a meal or pay bills or work an eight-hour day. Because those are normal, routine, day-to-day things that are just a part of life as an adult. But that’s the thing, a lot of millennials don’t see them that way, which is why the word has become so popular with that generation.

I just think the whole concept is comical (and maybe even a little disturbing). That’s probably because one of my two kids is a millennial right now. And as much as Dave and I have consciously, actively raised her to be independent and comfortable doing grown-up stuff, it still cracks me up when she makes a big deal about going to the bank to deposit her paycheck. Because, to her, doing something as simple as cashing her check feels like such an adult thing to do. And she’s still so inclined to ask me to do it for her. Which is why she’s totally adulting on the rare occasion when she does it herself.nopenotadulting

And the doing-it-for-her part is on me. Because I’ll be the first to admit that I do that sort of thing for my kids all the time. We all do. More out of habit and courtesy if I’m already going to the bank or doing the laundry. But we can’t anymore. Or, rather, we shouldn’t. Because the more we keep them from becoming legit adults themselves, the worse off this next generation will be. So sorry, babe. From now on, it’s just life. #justliving

Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on and at select Whole Foods Market stores.



All I want for Mother’s Day is…

By Lisa Sugarman

So there’s something you should know up front, before we really get rolling…there’s very little that I want that I don’t already have. And that’s the honest truth.

I’m actually being serious right now. I consider myself to be an incredibly fortunate person who really has just about everything I could need to be happy. I’ve got a great guy, two terrific and relatively low-maintenance kids (relatively), and a surprisingly normal and loving extended family.

Yup, I have just about everything I need to be happy. Just about. (I am human, after all. And a girl. I do occasionally want stuff.) And I’ll get to what that is in a second.

Now I know this might sound a little farfetched but, as a mom, I don’t often put myself first. In fact, I’m almost always dead last. Like, when I need a new pair of Dr. Scholls for the summer I only buy them if there’s money left over after I’ve bought bathing suits, shorts and flip flops for the girls, new dress shoes for Dave, and a new leash for the dog. Needless to say, I’ve been resoling the same pair of Dr. Scholls for the last ten years. You see my point.drscholll

I know, putting yourself last as a mom is a foreign concept to all you mamas out there. (I can feel you laughing.) So I guess it’s because I define myself as a mom above anything else that I feel like Mother’s Day is so significant. That’s why the one thing I actually want for myself is a perfect Mother’s Day.

That’s it. Just one perfect day.

How I define that perfect day, though, may surprise you.

See, I have no interest in getting physical gifts from my girls on Mother’s Day, like silk pajamas or flowers or heart necklaces. Not that those aren’t meaningful, but they’re just not what really matters the most to me. In fact, getting a store-bought gift is the exact opposite of what I want. (God I hope this week’s column is the one you guys pick to read this year, cause I’m like spoon-feeding you here.)

Honestly, the reason why this particular day is so important to me is because it’s the one day of the year that celebrates the most important thing that I am—a mom. Yeah, yeah, it’s corny, I know, but there isn’t one of us out there who doesn’t secretly feel the same way. Every one of us bitches and moans that, as moms, we have no time for ourselves anymore; that we’re sleep deprived, sex deprived, exercise deprived, financially depleted, and in a constant state of chaos. Yet none of us would trade motherhood for the promise of a lifetime of all of those things

Ok, granted, motherhood was most definitely the reason they came up with the phrase labor of love. But it really is about the best gig going because it’s one of the few things we all put our entire heart and soul into for life. And I guess on some level I just want my kids to pause long enough on Mother’s Day to acknowledge and appreciate me by giving me some of the “things” that I spend the rest of the year giving up because I’m so busy being their mom.

I want things like getting and keeping their undivided attention when I’m talking. Eye contact, girls. Eye contact. I want privacy (specifically relating to the bathroom). I want unlimited access to the TV remote so I can watch an entire day’s worth of Modern Family back to back to back. I want the car radio to stay on the 80s Mix Up Mash Up station. I want to be the one to go in the shower first and use as much hot water as I want. All of it, actually. I want to drain that water heater dry. Just one time.woman in shower washing hair

And I want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking my favorite meal and have everyone excited to eat it, regardless of what they’re really in the mood for (Chipotle is not an option). I want all fighting to cease and desist just for this one day—no door slamming, no eye rolling, no attitude, no moodiness, no insults. And no asking me for anything. In short, I want only happiness, gratitude, and appreciation, expressed either in the form of hugs and kisses or I love yous or a simultaneous mix of the three.

This is what I

Ok, fine, maybe not all of it (my list is rather long). Maybe just a select few. Actually, I’d be thrilled if I got that last one about hugs and kisses and I love yous just as a gesture of good faith. Because the truth is, I really don’t have time to enjoy all the other stuff. Sunday is the day I strip all the sheets, do the food shopping, make lunches for the week, do all the ironing, and get to all the errands I didn’t have time for during the week.

Wow, come to think of it, Sunday’s looking pretty stacked. I might only have time for a quick wave as I’m backing out of the garage. A mom can dream, though, can’t she?

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on

Thanksgiving is wherever your heart is

By Lisa Sugarman

I don’t know what Thanksgiving Day is like for you, but for me, it’s the best one out of the other three hundred and sixty-four. It’s without a doubt, my absolute most favorite day of the year. But for about the last seventeen years, it’s also been the bitter sweetest day for me.

Let me explain.

To me, Thanksgiving is the greatest day of the year, bar none.

I get to run my local five-miler road race with Dave and all our runnerbuddies. Then I get to watch my Marblehead Magicians football team play (and hopefully win). I get to spend the entire day with my family (and because I like them, it’s actually enjoyable). I get to eat tons of tryptophan until it’s oozing out of my eye sockets. And then, after the whole thing’s over, I get the bonus prize of being able to clock out of the kitchen for at least two days post-holiday because of all the leftovers. It’s positively dreamy.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I don’t have to buy so much as a single Hallmark card or wrap even one gift because it’s not that kind of holiday. Winning!

Clearly all of that represents the sweet part of the bitter sweetness. The bitter part has to do with the guest list. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re supposing that I hate my in-laws and that I dread having them under my roof for two weeks. Well you’re wrong. Stop assuming you know everything. I’m one of the small handful of people who actually adores my in-laws. So them coming is part of what makes it so perfect. Well, almost perfect.

See, ever since my parents retired to Florida about seventeen years ago, my Thanksgivings have been, well, different. Different because my parents are roughly 1,200 miles south of my dining room table on Thanksgiving Day, making passing the cranberry sauce an incredible challenge.

The thing is, growing up, my house was the epicenter of everything. And I mean everything. Every holiday, every celebration, all the big occasions and even all the small ones. So being together as a complete family unit was all I ever knew.

But, whether we like it or not, things have the tendency to change. Not always for the worse; they just change. And when I got married and my parents moved down south and my mother-in-law took over hosting, there was a seismic shift in the tectonic family plates. And then, after a decade of my mother-in-law hosting, they moved twenty-five minutes away from my parents and I took over. And the plates shifted again.

Life is constantly changing around us, whether we’re in the mood for it or not. So what we have to remember is to keep a wide stance so we can compensate for the movement. More importantly, we have to remember that there are always trade-offs to change that keep the balance equitable.

For me, the trade-off for not having my parents with us for Thanksgiving is that I have them for June and July, when they come north for the summer. Then, in early fall, they migrate back down to their condo and stay put until spring. It’s a cold thing. But my mom is notorious for popping up for mid-winter visits just because we can’t possibly go that long without seeing each other. You know, girls and their moms.

And while that doesn’t allow us to celebrate Thanksgiving in the same room, it does give us a beautiful chunk of time to enjoy together. And for that, I’m truly thankful.

One of my mom's trademarks... a card in my mailbox for every holiday we're apart. Just something special to let me know she's thinking of me. It's one of many ways we bridge the distance. And yes, my mother is really this adorable.

One of my mom’s trademarks… a card in my mailbox for every holiday we’re apart. Just something special to let me know she’s thinking of me. It’s one of many ways we bridge the distance. And yes, my mother really is this adorable.

You see, I know there are plenty of people out there who, for various reasons, are in similar situations this week. Wishing they could be together with family and friends but, for whatever reason, can’t be. Maybe they’re serving overseas (thanks for that, by the way), or maybe plane fares are too high, or maybe someone’s not well enough to travel. Everyone has a story. And believe me, whatever the reason is, I feel you. Because, like most people, I’d like to be surrounded by all the people I love the most on Thanksgiving. But even in spite of not being, we’ve managed to make do.

We’ve taken advantage of every type of connectivity that’s out there to help us feel less apart over the holiday. We Skype and we text and we call and we send cards (lots and lots of cards). And while it’s no substitute for being able to put your actual arms around someone, it does help take the edge off.

So even though you may not have every single person you want around your table this week, as long as you can somehow stay connected to the ones who aren’t, that’s as good a reason as any to be thankful, I think.

Happy Thanksgiving, mom and dad. Sending 1,200 miles worth of love your way.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on


The open-door policy gets my vote

imagesBV3K17DTBy Lisa Sugarman

When I was a kid, we pretty much had an open-door policy in my house. As an only child, I think my mom was hyper aware of how important it was for me to make strong bonds with friends because I had no brothers or sisters around to torment, uh, I mean, keep me company. So from as far back as I can remember, our front door was wide open and there were always at least few extra pairs of Tretorns in the front hall.

Let’s put it this way, all my friends knew exactly which shelf the Miracle Whip was on in my fridge and where our spare key was hidden under the porch. (Not that we hide a key under the porch now. I mean, exactly how stupid do you think I am?) In other words, I guess you could say that growing up, my house was like a second home for a lot of people.

My mom hosted just about every major holiday and special occasion you could find on a calendar. And some I think she just made up for the helluvit. Point being, I always had the sense back then that our house was the epicenter of the world. And I loved it. There was nothing like that feeling of having your friends call your mother Mom. It meant they loved being there. And that was a beautiful feeling.

Now I imagine my mom had a revolving-door philosophy because that was how she and my aunt and uncles were raised. But I’m sure part of it, too, was to overcompensate for the fact that I had no siblings. Either way it was fine with me because my house was always so jam-packed with people that I never felt alone. Not for a minute. Because even then, as a self-centered teenager—yeah, I admit it—I consciously recognized and appreciated always having people around. And that’s because it made the house feel alive with energy. And that was an infectious feeling.

It really seemed to me, in those days, like our oven was indefinitely preheated and ready to roll at a steady 350 degrees for whatever pans of Toll House cookies might come sliding in. My mom was either baking or cooking or shopping. The way I remember it, she was always either on her way to, or from, the market. I often wondered when she actually slept. And it wasn’t until years later, when I had my own kids, that I realized she didn’t. No mom does.

Look, food and people equals love. Plain and simple. And my mother knew that. So we were always fully stocked with both. I think it’s fair to assume that a good majority of everyone’s happy memories somehow, in some way, involve food or people or both. Birthdays have cake, Thanksgiving has turkey, Easter has ham, the Fourth of July has beer. The list could go on for miles. The one common denominator being food. And the people to eat it.

See, it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I fully realized what kind of an impact it had on me watching my mother host everything. All those memories of everyone always getting together under our roof left a serious mark on me. That one penchant she had for opening our house up to everyone had a direct and powerful influence on how I’ve raised my own kids. And my mother-in-law was the same way, so it’s all Dave and I have ever really known. And so, consequently, it’s all our kids have ever known.

I will say, though, that it wasn’t until I was a parent, with my own debit card and overdraft protection, that I realize that my mother must’ve either secretly won the lottery or been hooking on the side to have afforded to feed all those people. Obviously I’m joking. Please. She never won the lottery.

Really, though, I’ll never dispute how much time and effort goes into opening your house up, especially to your kid’s friends. But the return you get on that is, actually, like winning the lottery. For real.

I don’t think any of us would trade the slave labor it takes to cook one hundred meatballs, four gallons of red sauce, ten pounds of pasta, ten loaves of garlic bread, thirteen dozen brownies, and a builder’s acre-worth of Caesar salad just to have the cross country team over for a quick bite. It’s a haul, for sure. But any of us who’ve hosted a team dinner or Thanksgiving or birthday parties or playgroups knows that the joy it gives our kids far outweighs the bursitis we get from carrying eight grocery bags at a time in from the car.

Ok, well, it’s almost worth it anyway.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on

Listen to my interview with Maria Bailey on Mom Talk Radio

Moms know Maria Bailey as the host of Mom Talk Radio, Author, Founder of, TV personality and Co-Founder of and MomTV and Founder of National Mom’s Nite Out.

Listen to my interview with Maria on Mom Talk Radio, the first nationally syndicated radio show for moms, broadcast nationwide to over 250,000 moms each week.

Just click on the Mom Talk Radio link below and you’ll be redirected to my YouTube page. Then just fast forward the radio show to the 17-minute mark to listen to our interview.

Mom Talk Radio logoMaria Bailey