During my tenure as a student for 17 years, I had a distinct picture of what adulthood would be like. It mostly reflected what I saw on television, but nonetheless, I grinded through school to one day superimpose myself into my inkling of what being out of school would be like.

After going back home last week and hearing that I look older (something I would have cherished when I was 19 and 20), I pondered how my image of adulthood coincided with reality. I not only looked older, but at the ripe age of 23, I felt a bit older, too.

It wasn’t the work that surprised me, since I have worked since I was 16. I also knew the responsibility that came along with paying bills and making meals. I experienced all of that during my college years, with paying rent, car payments and other miscellaneous expenses. But renting an apartment is a far cry from actually owning a house.

The aspect of adulthood that came up and bit me by surprise is all the little things you have to worry about.

Taking care of your home is a full-time job in itself. Sure my mom may have tried telling me that as a kid, but I didn’t believe her. I just thought it was one of those tricks adults use to get kids to help around the house. No matter how much parents may plead, you just don’t understand the tasks until you’re in charge. I guess I owe my mom an apology. Sorry, Mom. I’m sure that will make up for years of challenging her not to move from the recliner and help around the house.

And it’s not like I have a houseful of people to watch over. I live with my wife. No kids. No friends. No loners looking for a free ride. It’s just my wife and me. But it always seems like dishes pile up, papers clutter the coffee table and trash fills the garbage can. I don’t even want to imagine what kids would do to this problem.

Generally my jobs around the house range from taking out the trash, putting the recyclables away and occasionally fold the laundry. These are just my main jobs, and they must be done by me; my wife insists on that. If recyclables are sitting on the floor, waiting to be taken out to the garage, my wife could walk past them, go out to the garage, walk right next to the buckets, grab something, and walk back inside and tell me the recyclables need to be taken out. It’s my job she says, and it appears my level of responsibility will increase by taking out recyclables.

Those jobs are not that bad, but they pale in comparison with my outdoor chores.

As a homeowner, I take more pride in my yard than when I lived at my parent’s house. When I mowed as a teenager, I didn’t care what the yard looked like, as long as it took me about 45 minutes and I collected a crisp $10 bill after my work.

Now, though, I want my lawn to look respectable. As an observant kid I always wondered why my dad didn’t have a bag on his push mower. I questioned why someone would not elect to keep the grass in a bag compared to blowing it all over the lawn. So, when I couldn’t find the attachment for the blower on my mower and only a bag could be used, I didn’t fret; I actually thought it would help keep my lawn looking good.

But as a kid who never used a bag mower, I never realized the cruel truth associated with them. It would take me about 30 minutes to cut through my lawn with a regular mower. However, with a bag, it more than doubles my time. Having to start and stop to dump the grass, coupled with using the biodegradable bags that rip at the slightest tug, do not add to a good mood during the sweltering heat of August.

In addition to mowing, our garden and landscape also needs upkeep. Now, as gardeners we’re a little green. We ended the season with no beans, no corn and a few watermelon. It was a miracle from God that watermelon actually showed up in our yard.

We’re contemplating using our patch as a place to grow more grass, but growing grass in our backyard has proved to be as much of a chore as it is to keep rabbits from gnawing at our potential food and trees.

I even acted as a lumberjack and had to cut one of our trees down that rabbits had gnawed, killing it earlier this year. While using a handsaw that would make only George Washington jealous, I sawed continuously at our poor tree. I told my wife it would take a few minutes to chop through our small tree. She smirked and walked off.

After about 45 minutes, drenched with sweat and amazed at the different combinations I could use four-letter words in sentences, my wife came back outside to marvel at my work. “Make it a little more even,” she said, as she strolled back inside, telling me to hurry up since dinner was almost ready.

Needless to say more words came out of my mouth while evening our stump.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in the past year. But my change in age has to be because there’s always something to fix or do around the house. As I’ve become older, I don’t know if I’ve become more responsible; instead I’ve become wiser. So wise, I now know why chores were invented for children.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor at the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.

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