I was nineteen the first time someone called me ma'am without irony. I was horrified. I was nineteen, nineteen! I was not a ma'am! My chagrin lasted for several years, as the ma'am-ings became more and more frequent. At some point, I ceased to notice, probably because there was no longer any way for me to deny my ma'am-ness.
And then this morning, Owen and I stopped at the paint store, and as we were leaving the clerk said "thank you, miss." Miss! I'm thirty-five, I was sporting copious matrimonial hardware on my left ring finger, and I was hauling my two-year-old along with me. I am no more a miss now than I was a ma'am at nineteen. I think the realization of my absolutely ineligibility for miss-ness is the first thing that has ever really made me feel like an adult.
What first made you feel like an adult, or are you still waiting?