Forty is fast approaching for me. I’m not scared of it. Not wishing to be 30. Nor 21. I’m ready to meet it head-on, to embrace it, even. But like most people, I can’t help but be reflective. What have I accomplished? Have I made my mark? Have I made A mark?? My resume is choppy, zigging here, zagging there. So many cities, so many business cards. And with what to show for it? I mean, really, who am I? I grew up presuming there would be a comma after my name, showcasing my special skill. Ellen, actress. Ellen, writer. Teacher. Landscaper. Interior Designer.
That looks kind of sad.
But when I am swallowed up by the depths of my almost-40 am-I-making-a-difference-despair, I imagine the word “mother” in that space. Mother. I am one. I am mother to two bright, shiny children; they are my job right now. When I was young, my parents divorced and so my mom began to work hard — very hard — to juggle being a mother to my brother and me but also to teach her students. She hustled and managed to make a difference at home and also at school, to shape the minds of her children and of her dozens of students. Year in and year out. Bravo to that. I looked up to her. I still do. But I know her life was frenetic. And turbulent. And tireless.
As I approach 40, I am living this life on a most cellular level. Getting my hands dirty in the garden or sticky with glue from craft projects. I’m driving to and from school or dance lessons, to and from the grocery store where I buy the same mind-numbingly repetitive food items. I’m not always good at it. Some days are better than others. But I’m doing my best to take it all in. Knowing that I won’t be wiping poopy bottoms for much longer, that my children will grow older and not rely on me so heavily. Or that my 7-year old won’t always want to share with me the intimate details of her day. So then I will make time for that line after the comma. Make time for those other life skills.
But, for now, no beating myself up about it. Because I beat myself up enough for the the wrinkles around my eyes. I may be “embracing” 40, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also pull that unit of Botox in with a deep hug.
What is it about getting online? I need a recipe, find a good one on a blog. Bookmark it for later browsing. Just before X’ing out the blog window, notice a post on said blog featuring a darling skirt at Anthropologie. Click. Browse through the goods at Anthro only to find a chair that would look perfect in my bedroom if its walls were repainted. Open a new window for Benjamin Moore — click — & browse through the blues. Palladian Blue: perfect. But I’d really need a new duvet cover to match. Garnet Hill. Pottery Barn. Company Store. Click. Click. Click. Nothing suits my fancy. That’s okay because I found a great runner for my family’s summer cabin; no more tracking sand in from the beach….wait. Sand. It’s spring. The girls could use some new sandals. Click. Browsing sandals on Zappos, Nordstrom, back to Garnet Hill. Click. Click. Click. What the hell time is it? Got to pick up my little one from school in 30 minutes. Okay. Get serious. Recipe. Back to the blog. In the time I surfed away from her blog, blogger has posted a fascinating article about marriage written by an author who has a new book out on same topic. Read article, forward to closest friends. Order book. Scroll back to recipe. Make mental note of items needed. Realize that I am out of x, y AND z. Recipe will not work.
And, what do you know….time to pick my baby up from school. And perhaps pick up a bottle of the latest ADHP meds.
My youngest to me this a.m.: “Mom. Mom. Mom? Did you know Sugarloaf is, like, 100% more better than McDonald’s?”
Me: “It is? Hmm. [Trying in my head to decipher how this comparison of a ski mountain and drive-through crappy food has come to life.] How are they similar?”
Her: “Well, the food is way more healthy at Sugarloaf, that’s how. Sugarloaf doesn’t drop bones and beaks in their food.”
Our 7-year old runs off the bus today, right past me and into the house, her jeggings and sherpa-lined boots a blur as she drops her backpack, flies up the stairs to her bedroom. Slam, goes the door. Our younger child, aged 5, looks at me. I look at her.
Hmm. Welcome home.
A minute passes. The door opens.
“MOM!” Can you dial Alex’s number for me, please?”
“Um, I guess so?” I say, unsure of the phone transaction about to go down. I mean, you’re 7. What will you talk about? How awesome gym was today? How funny that Scooby episode was? How the very large wooden Nutcracker you’ve been sleeping with – since Christmas – fell off your bed last night, making such a big thud that I thought there was a perp in the house?
I dial. Hand it to her. She retreats into her room. Closes the door, giving me one last look as if to say, Um. Little privacy, please?
If someone had answered on the other end, would I have pressed my ear to the door? Eavesdropped on the juicy first grade gossip? Hard to say. (Pretty sure that’s a yes.) Luckily the door opens, she comes out. “No answer,” she says.
We walk downstairs and within minutes, she is playing with her sister. Playing babies.
Sigh. A moment of relief. Not yet a teenager, not even a tween, but my sunny 7-year old.
“Okay,” she says to her sister. “I’ll be Nancy, and you be Lily again. Okay? Sound good?” Little sister nods, grateful for girl time. She hikes up her jeggings. Those friggin’ jeggings. I resist the urge to unearth a onesie, see if it will stretch over her long torso, over those crazy long gams. Could I fold her up and stuff her back in my womb?
I sigh and do that crazy math where I start adding up the years, seeing how old I will be when they are a certain age. Or how old they will be in X amount of years.
7 doubled. Teenager. Hates me.
7 tripled. Dear God, drinking age. [How can she be closer to 21 than me? How can I be closer to FIFTY than she is to 21? Dear God. Need drink.]
I close the door on that worm hole and sit next to them, listen to their playtime. Knowing I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be want to be 21 again if you paid me, knowing fully well I would rather be here than anywhere else on Earth.
Unless it was like a million dollars. Then I’m pretty sure I’d do it, and I’d be on reality TV.
H (7): “Mom, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. They make good food.”
C (5): “Yeah, me too. But I like Walmart even better.”
Me: “Wait. No. What??”
H: “Mom. She means Whole Foods.”
C: “Oh yeah. That’s what I meant. They’re pwactically the same thing.”
Thanks to Jason, who reminded me of this…
Getting my blog up and running again has only taken me, oh, about five years. Longer. And now that it’s set up, I admit, it makes me nervous to think that I need to provide content. Not just type out what I had for breakfast, but maybe come up with little vignettes. Funny ones. Or useful ones, making your time spent here worth it. Then I remembered why I started this in the first place. To log some memories, pics, adventures. It’s not as easy, however, to find the time to sit down at the computer whilst my girls require, say, parental attention. The other day I sat down to try to bang out a couple of lines and then…my vignette. You should know, we are fairly JV in the tech department when it comes to our kids, but we do have iPhones and an iPad so my kids can swipe with the best of them. As I sat staring at the computer on my desk, empty-headed thoughts beginning to rise from the dead, I caught my youngest, age 5, attempting to alter something on the screen of our quite ancient cathode ray tube TV sitting behind me. She was swiping away on the dusty screen until I said, “Oh, no, honey, that’s not a touch screen.”
“I totally knew that,” she said, walking away.
Remember. She’s 5.
“Totally, huh. You did?” I asked, thinking but, of course! she must think every screen in the world operates like a smartphone!
“Yep. For serious,” she said. “Really. I just thought if I tried hard enough, I could make it into one.”
Well, gee whiz, with that confidence, you probably can.
Is this thing on?
Good grief, I’m nervous. Sweating a little. I took public speaking in college only to develop a horrifyingly giant fear of speaking in public.
I haven’t blogged in 7 or 8 years and while back then I posted little vignettes about life in Manhattan as a temp where I worked in the Office –I’m not kidding, I was Pam — I’m now a stay-at-home mom in a suburb in, well, let’s just say it’s not Manhattan. So my question is: who is going to read this?
Sigh. I’m gonna give it a go. So bear with me if it’s awful. Or if I’m boring you with mind-numbingly awful recipes. Or pics of my living room. Or maybe some paint swatches. Maybe some sh#$ my kids say. Because they produce some funny sh#$.
Hopefully I will, too.