Roots and wings

I’ve just returned from a long weekend trip with my 15-soon-to-be-16-year-old son.  It was just the two of us.

We’ve made several of these trips over the years, but none before had felt so IMG_3714*delicate* – like a beautiful soap bubble, reflecting watercolor-like images of us.  Knowing it would probably be the last – or at least the penultimate – trip before his life changes dramatically: getting his driver’s license, then getting a job, then going to college….

Our trips would drive others mad.  We don’t plan anything. We pack books, and crazy card games, comfy clothes.  We don’t set alarms, we don’t make reservations (except for a room).  We pack swimsuits, just in case.  We might load the bikes onto the car rack like we did for this trip even though the weather forecast was icky (and it turns out we never did get to ride them). We buy junk food. We watch movies. We sleep until we wake up. We talk. We’re quiet together.

We drive, and drive, and drive a long way from our home for these trips. Once we even flew. The unspoken rule is that it needs to be a place on the water.  Any body of water.  And it needs to be just the two of us.

These trips don’t happen every year, but as he gets older I want a bajillion more of them! What makes them so special to me is that he WANTS to go. Not only that, Z is always the one who brings it up.  And he made my heart sing when he asked a month ago if he and I could take one of our trips.

This year, Z did ALL the driving.  The six hours up to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, in and around the quaint towns, and back home again. I must have looked to my left at the young man driving a thousand times that trip, and all I could think was “It used to be me driving him around…”

Z and I have always been close. It’s been the two of us for most of his young life.  I am his constant. No matter what or who comes and goes from his life, he knows he is stuck with me.  I’ve made sure he knows that. Always and forever.

He still talks to me about all manner of things going on in his life, including crushes and periods of uncertainty. He still asks me questions about sex, and what girls like best about boys. He listens carefully and intently when we talk about “no means no for anyone saying it” and that mutual respect is a key to any healthy relationship.  He listens and asks more questions when I tell him integrity is the quality I value most in my friendships and other relationships.  He asks what integrity envelopes, and we talk about what it means when someone calls him a “young man of integrity”.  I tell him first of all, I think it may be the greatest compliment anyone can ever give him.  Then I tell him I hope he always strives to be a man of integrity.  Always and forever.

But those conversations are for at home. On our trips, it’s nothing heavy, nothing earth-shattering. We catch up with the little things. He asks about the book I’m reading; I ask about how everyone at the lunch table is doing. We talk about music. We talk about cars (well, he talks, I listen). Sometimes we don’t talk at all and are just *together*.   We play card games that devolve into mild smack talk and laughter so hearty our sides-ache-our-eyes-water-and-we-can’t-breathe-together. We breathe. We just are together.

Z is an adventurous kid. He loved preschool the moment I dropped him off. When I mentioned summer sleep away camp one spring, thinking he might want to talk roots and wingsabout it later, he asked how soon he could leave. He was 8 years old (fortunately, the camp we chose had an opening that summer). It’s 3-weeks long and 7 hours away. He’s gone every summer but one ever since. He’s a genuinely nice person, and makes friends easily – both boys and girls. His friends are nice people, too, and as they all get older (and get driver’s licenses) they are off doing more things away from us parents. He is working on earning money for his French Club trip to Paris next spring – he’ll make it to France before I do. He has no qualms about going away to college. He is already planning his semester studying in Europe. And he talks about living abroad to work on his graduate degrees.

All of these milestones, all of these “venturing outings” are amazing and awesome to him. He knows he’s lucky to get to do a lot of the things he does (and I will strive to make sure he can). He has no fear. I love watching him spread his wings and fly!

It also breaks my heart a little bit more each time he flies a little further.

This fall he’ll be heading into his junior year.  God help me. I’m not ready for that and I know it. As long as he’s ready though, it’ll all be good.

And if I get one more trip – one more lazy, perfect trip with Z before he flies off to find his future, I’ll be thrilled. In the meantime, I have all the memories of trips past to cherish. And if this was the last of them, then it will be enough.

Always and forever.


Until Friday, Friends.  Cheers!

Spring cleaning

slushI felt dullness. Drabness. Mired in the muddy, slushy snow lining the streets.

It was the first full day home after returning from my first week-long vacation in over five years. I was in my car waiting in line for the ATM when it finally struck me: it wasn’t just the warmth and softness of the tropical trade winds I was missing (although coming back to Chicagoland’s 40s and 50s was a brisk and startling change from the 80s I’d enjoyed for a week); it was the absence of bright and vibrant color. And it had suddenly depressed me.

This was a relatively quick realization, unlike some. There are times when the absence of something takes a while to settle in and then you finally notice something is missing.

You know how you’ll be driving down the street, do a double-take and suddenly think “didn’t there used to be a Blockbuster store there?” or “when did Applebee’s close?” Or going to someone’s house you frequent and thinking “didn’t there used to be a picture there?” only to ask and find out that it had been gone for months.

At times, we can get so caught up in the daily grind, we slowly forget what brings us joy. A former co-worker, C, told me about the day she realized it was time to look for a new job: she had stopped singing in the car on the way to work. Something so simple, but it made her happy. But as she became more and more discouraged with her career, it obliterated other things she valued. And she was not as happy a person anymore. But it was finally noticing the absence of something that spurred her to look – and find – something better (and she’s happily singing away on her way to work again).

IMG_3615Unfortunately, sadness, hurt, and pain are things we have to learn to live with at times. Only when you have the sudden – sometimes slow – realization they’re gone, or at least somewhere in the far background, do you wonder how long they’ve been missing. How long haven’t I been singing in the car? How long has it been since I sat and watched the sun set? How long have I let (insert your own realization here) go missing from my life?

Other times, something – like a sound, or a smell, or seeing a name or date – triggers a rush of memories that come careening back into our heads (or hearts). Some are good. Some not so much. And sometimes it can be difficult not to let those painful memories settle in for a visit. When the hurtful stuff jumps on us so suddenly, I think it can be just as painful as experiencing it the first time around.

Marie Kondo, the author of current best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, advocates that you only keep items in your house that “spark joy.” I think that pertains to our hearts and brains as well.

The idea, I think, is to hold on to what makes us happy and healthy individuals. We’re not storage bins designed to hold everything, just like our homes are not meant to hold on to every item ever accumulated. But in order to make room for future “joy sparkers”, you have to purge some things. Let’s let go of the icky stuff!

I’m not saying that difficult times can’t make us better people. I firmly believe that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger (or want a stronger cocktail. Or both.) What I am saying is that letting go of the pain-filled memories of those times is healthy. Remember the lesson, by all means. But let’s give ourselves permission to let go of the hurt or disappointment.

When WE get to decide what will be absent going forward, we are in control of with what we fill that now vacant space. Make room for the good things to come.

By the way, I didn’t stay depressed for long on that cold dreary day. The absence of something can also be the actual reminder that something else is right around the corner.

Like spring in the Midwest.

Spring really does come back (eventually). I had a Technicolor preview in Hawaii and forgot, for a time, about the black, brown, and grey we have here between the end of winter and the first few weeks of spring. It’s the only change of seasons that goes back to absolute neutral before the next season begins.  And I can appreciate that now.

IMG_3322Maybe that’s what my trip was about: besides resting, I had the colorful riot of one place to shake me out of old habits and inspire new ones. I visited some familiar places, but freshened up the memories with new experiences.

So when you tidy up and bid adieu to things you no longer have need, and there is a vacant place – that gift of an absence – I hope you find exactly what you’re hoping for to fill it.

Until Tuesday, Friends. Cheers!

Make hay while the iron is hot

Is there ever a perfect time?

For getting braces? Asking someone on a first date? Getting married? Having children? Writing a story? Getting your period? (ok, that last one was definitely gender-specific and I’ll try to refrain from those types of comments in the future. But really, has anyone ever said “Oh what a perfect time for my period” without sarcasm?). Is there a perfect time for anything?

IMG_3262I recently left my full-time job with a media company to resume my writing career full-time. Was it perfect timing? Several people with whom I worked certainly felt otherwise. And for my co-worker, J, it left a LOT on her plate. But bless her, she was genuinely happy for me and even took me out for a lovely lunch my last week in the office. Although I felt badly leaving her with a never-ending pile of work to do, I knew it was still time for me to leave.

Not perfect timing, but Time.

I looked forward to establishing a routine of my own. Sitting down at the computer or notepad, brainstorming, editing first drafts, trashing first drafts, starting over, editing…editing some more, and (finally) getting pieces out there!

Alas, my “perfect time” to write seems to take place after 10pm.

(All of the proofreading and editing, however, does take place in daylight. Really.)

The joke at our house is that it’s a good thing I quit my day job because my new job keeps me up at night. I quit my office job so I could write and blog and edit DURING the day. Apparently my brain hasn’t gotten that memo yet.

While I was working outside the house, the only truly quiet time I had to myself was after the house settled into the nightly routine. Once everyone was in bed and Life quieted down, then the real estate in my brain which hosts the monologues you read here and elsewhere could actually get down to work.

I do have a second-best time for writing: alone in the car. But it’s very tricky to write or type unnoticed by fellow drivers, or police officers, while driving. I tried to dictate to Siri once while driving, but she was only catching every third word and got testy with me when I swore at her. I’m really hoping it just looked like I was singing along with the radio to the other drivers on that stretch of I-90.

So, it’s back to being stationary while writing.

And I’m trying to negotiate with my body to cooperate to work with me during (relatively) normal business hours. I really do have good intentions at bed time: I brush my teeth, floss (most of the time), check email and Facebook one last time, moisturize, run back downstairs because I forgot to sign a form or something for Z, remind Z it’s bedtime, run back upstairs, figure out if I have clean clothes to put on my body the next morning, say “good night” to Z and make sure HE has clean clothes to put on the next day, take my bedtime routine of vitamins & etc., and finally turn out the lights and crawl under the covers. This usually occurs before 11pm. Usually.

But sometimes, regardless of those intentions, I’ll wake up in the wee small hours of the morning with an idea desperately holding on to my parietal lobe – or amygdala, or wherever the unconscious mind hangs out while we’re sleeping – and I know I have to get up and write it ALL down because I won’t remember it in the morning. In the past, convinced I have a marvelous subject but am so tired I think “I’ll just jot down a few key words and it will trigger my memory tomorrow,” I’ve grabbed one of the small pads of lined yellow paper I keep on my bedside table (actually, I keep them all over the house – I call them my external hard drives) and scribble down what I believe to be the core ideas for a great column. Do you have any idea what “dopamine, glass jar, San Juan, and orange” have in common? Neither do I. But those are the “key words” I found waiting for me on the small yellow pad one morning.

There’s a reason those old clichés have stuck around long enough to become, well, clichés. “Make hay while the sun shines,” “strike while the iron is hot.” Most of the time, though, there is no perfect time to do anything. We just go with it because it feels better than any other time to date (or, if you’re a procrastinator, you have absolutely no choice in the matter and you’ll barely get it done on time anyway. Hop to it.).

If we sit around waiting for the perfect time, we’ll all be sitting still for a very, very long time.

So, I think I’ll go on writing when inspiration hits. Even if it’s not perfect timing, I’m going with it and jumping in, even at 1am.  Just promise me that if you find me out and about with my face planted on a table, or propped up against a wall snoring, you’ll wake me up.  Maybe have a pad of paper and a pen ready.  You never know when an idea will strike….

Until Tuesday, Friends. Cheers!

Not for the faint of heart

The last thing I remember is looking into Z’s eyes and sighing in reply: “Well, if you’re ok with winging it, I’m good.”

Fifteen plus years later…

Don’t get me wrong: I am a firm believer in being prepared for all contingencies (just ask T how I pack). I read. I Google. I ask friends who have been there before me. I arm myself with as much information as I deem necessary. I am prepared for as many “what ifs” as I can be.

I just don’t count on it being anything like I envisioned. So lots of plans are made, and then just as readily get thrown out the window. But once you have kids, the concept of “plan” takes a huge hit, and you’re never really sure where you stand once you become a parent. You, too?

Take Z’s birth for instance. Although I would be 35 when he was born, my pregnancy was a very healthy one, and the only scary parts were at the beginning and the end. I started bleeding at 9 weeks, but all turned out ok. Of course, the “giving birth” part wasn’t at all like what I’d prepared for.

My doctor and I talked about my birth plan during one of my regular check ups. It went like this:

I’d like to try natural child birth, but if things get rough, I’m not adverse to drugs.

That’s it. That was the plan.

(Now I’m going to borrow something from the comedienne and philosopher extraordinaire, Amy Poehler. And I really hope she’s ok with that, because I don’t want to piss her off since I’m still hoping to bump into her one day and we’ll decide to go for coffee – even though I don’t drink coffee, there are certain people in this world you’d absolutely love to get to talk with so you’d drink the coffee anyway. Anyway, here’s what I’m borrowing from her, and I want to make it a basic tenet of this blog so listen and read carefully now, because I’m not going through this again

Good for you. Not for me. And vice versa.

I won’t judge you for the choices you’ve made for your family. Please don’t judge me for mine. We all do the best we can with what we have at the time we’re doing it.)

So, back to the birth plan:

I’d taken the Lamaze classes, took the tour of the hospital, asked a lot of parents a lot of questions, and read a LOT. I was as ready as I could be.

IMG_0850Then that funny thing called Life happened again. You know, that thing that happens when you’re busy making plans. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about.

Two and a half weeks before my due date — and keep in mind, this was my first pregnancy. Well, ok, my last, as well, but what’s the general consensus about first babies? They’re always late, right?

I went into labor.

Two and a half friggin’ weeks early.

It was a Thursday night. Some people tried to tell me later it was false labor*. True, false, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it HURT and that baby was suddenly very insistent that after playing it safe for nearly 8.5 months that he/she wanted OUT.

I was admitted to the hospital very early in the morning on Sunday.

Yep. You read that correctly. I was in labor from Thursday through Sunday and STILL no baby or alien or anything else had made his/her/its appearance.

I know that sounds cold. Please remember I was IN LABOR FOR A PERIOD OF 72 HOURS by this point. I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night.

For 8.125 months, I had that perfect little “basketball baby tummy” and the worst that had happened was the baby had rolled onto my sciatic nerve for a week.

Then the baby “dropped” and I suddenly had a horse trailer strapped to my front. Imprints from inside me of little feet, hands, and heaven only knows what else were appearing regularly on my belly that was now located somewhere south of my knees, but because everything else was stretched beyond what seemed the acceptable range of motion, I couldn’t be sure. The baby had suddenly realized I hadn’t given him/her/it the luxury condo but the simple studio. I think he/she/it braced their little back against my tailbone and pushed with both feet with the strength of the Hulk and that’s when it all started going south. Literally, figuratively.

I didn’t care WHAT came out or HOW it came out or WHERE it came out just make it come out NOW.

Then everything came to a grinding halt.

As soon as I’d been wheeled in, they hooked me up to lots of monitors that beeped and whirred and tracked the baby’s progress. Just before 7am on that hot August Monday, when my ob/gyn walked in, labor stopped. Three and a half days, and nothing to show for it? Oh no, I don’t think so. She agreed, and Part B of the labor plan was instituted (you remember, the part with the drugs).

And it just got crazier from there.

After examining me, my doctor announced that although the baby was head down, he/she/it was “sunny side up”, meaning facing my stomach instead of my back. So every time I had a contraction, the hardest part of the little alien’s head was hitting my tailbone.

Well, that explained a lot.

My doctor immediately ordered an epidural.
I told her I sure hoped it was for me.

When I am faced with such utter exhaustion that I’m sure is going to kill me and that I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking down a few poor bystanders with me, I turn to my higher power: humor.

It can get pretty dark sometimes. But it is my last push (pun intended in this instance) to try and get through whatever it is that has led me to that point. In this case, I really didn’t have a choice – someone else was counting on me to get him out of the dark, too.

And this is the part of the story where I fell in love for the first time that day.
My knight in shining blue scrubs came in: my anesthesiologist, Dr M. And the nurse from hell (whom I’d silently dubbed “Cruella”), who had been with me since check- in, held my shoulders and bossed me one last time as she said “look directly at me and don’t move a muscle.” Which sounds great, except the Pitocin they’d given me earlier to restart labor was doing everything it could to MAKE my muscles move. I knew exactly what was happening – I told you I paid attention in Lamaze class – and I’d like to say I was a brave lass as Dr M threaded that needle down my spine. So I’ll just leave it at ‘I was a brave lass’. Instant relief from my child literally head-butting me for 3+ days spread through my body and I could feel every muscle relax. I turned to my hero and said “I love you.” He smiled back at me and said tenderly, “I get that a lot.”

I was able to doze a little. And when I came up out of the not-sleeping-for-4-days-fog, I remember thinking “Ok, I’ve got this. I’m so exhausted, but I can do this! Let’s push!” My Ob/gyn turned from the monitor and said “You’re baby is going to give me a heart attack. We need to do a c-section right now.”

Well alrighty then.

When a doctor says “c-section” in a birthing suite, it is a call to military-like precision that I have never witnessed before or since. Monitor feeds were ripped out of walls, sides to the bed are up, the doctor is magically whipped away for her costume change, wheels are literally in motion while they tuck sheets and patient in for the ride down the hall. What I thought of then was, I’m sure, a combination of fear/relief/drugs. The first part was “ok, NOW we’re getting somewhere!” And the second part I blame entirely on my friend, A, who had four children before I even had my first, and hers were delivered by c-section as well. She told me her story of being wheeled quickly down the hospital hall and what went through her mind.  It’s all her fault I suddenly started giggling uncontrollably, causing my nurses and even marvelous Dr M to look at me in alarm. I even heard the following in A’s voice: “Please buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times.”

Less than 15 minutes later, I was looking at my baby boy, Z, and I had fallen in love for the second time in one day. We’d gotten through our first wild ride together.

Here’s a funny side-note: once you have a child, other people – from the grocery clerk to your family, and neighbors to perfect strangers – feel entitled to a commentary on your delivery (they also feel the pressing need to comment on your parenting style, but that’s a whole other chapter). One of the things that really bothered me is that when people find out I had a c-section, they seemed disappointed for me. “Oh dear,” they’d say pityingly. “You didn’t get to experience the miracle of birth.”

Excuse me?

I had a baby inside me. Baby is out now. It was a miracle.
And I experienced it all. For four days.

No romantic images are seared in my mind. I knew I looked like I’d been up for 4 days, with just one little drug-induced nap for respite. Z looked better, but not by much. He also looked like he knew something I didn’t. I did know it was just the beginning of lots of crazy rides (I say this with some sense of the ridiculous as my son is now just weeks away from getting his driver’s license). And it turns out I was right.

IMG_0862(1)But Z knew something right then, something I think all babies know. When he first looked at me on that hot August Monday, in that slightly near-sighted manner newborn babies have, with kind of a surprised “Oh! It’s you!” look when they connect that voice they’ve heard for a while – that voice that’s always with them – when Z suddenly realized he knew me, he finally had the chance to let me know: “Hey, after what we’ve just been through, if you’re up for winging it, so am I.”

*For the record, it’s called protracted labor. And it’s real, and it hurts just like regular labor, except it’s spread out. So you can enjoy it longer.

Until Friday, Friends. Cheers!

Remind me

The most frequent question asked of me about this blog is “what’s it about?” Fair enough – but honestly, it’s a work in progress. That answer will change frequently. The second most asked question is “what’s with the name?” Again, fair enough – let me explain.

Do you believe in magic?  Whether your own, parental, or witnessing it in someone else? It does exist. The eyes in back of the head, the knowing when you’re getting into trouble on a different floor of the house; the ability to instantly know where you left your soccer shoes, where the missing library book is; the healing touch with the right words to soothe a scrape, calm panic at forgotten assignments, and understanding for a broken heart and broken dreams – that’s a particular kind of “Mom Magic” and every mom has it.

Well, there’s an extension of that magic: knowing when something has been forgotten. My son calls it “Mom’s 6th Sense,” and he might be on to something. It shows itself most prevalently as we all buckle ourselves into the car before heading out somewhere, and then – as if on cue – everyone turns to look at me expectantly. If I can say “Nope, we’re good,” we can continue the excursion with about 99.9% confidence that we are set for whatever comes our way. Whether it’s a trip across town, to the airport, or a road trip, I KNOW when we’ve got everything taken care of.

old fashioned woman facing leftHowever, if I pause and stare intently through the windshield, family knows it’s time to regroup and start walking me through packing lists. It can be anything from tickets, to sunscreen, to pajamas, to medication, to an entire piece of luggage, to a precious ring. I KNOW when we’ve forgotten something.

But here’s the magic’s catch: I can’t always “see” what we’re forgetting before we MUST pull out of the driveway.

Most of those times I will eventually remember, such as with the ring: we were over halfway to the airport (an hour away) when I looked down and realized my hand was bare and I practically screamed to T that my ring wasn’t with me (to his credit, he hid the look of “this means a call to the insurance company” very well). It took a phone call and several texts to the pet sitter who drove over to the house on an unscheduled trip to look. She did, indeed, find it in one of the two places I asked her to look, but it was far too late to turn around and go get it. Obviously, the trip wasn’t impacted (although the countless looks I gave my hand during the trip – each time feeling that heart-skip-stomach-clench of not seeing it where it should be – were jarring).

Other times, we can buy the forgotten toothpaste, or sleep in a t-shirt instead of the pajamas that are still sitting folded on the dresser at home, or borrow a hair dryer at a friend’s, and everything works out ok.

But, the times I don’t figure it out? I will beat myself up over what I imagine we’re going to suddenly discover is missing that can throw the entire trip into chaos.

I’ll go over my lists on my cellphone, visually recounting packing everything on my list. I struggle to recall just how many cans of cat food DID I leave out for the pet sitter, and did I leave the phone numbers where she can find them?

Instead of breathing deeply and thinking to myself “Ok, we’re off and now all I can do is relax and enjoy the trip,” I fret. And sometimes it is over something as small as what turns out to be toothpaste. What drives me to distraction is the not remembering. That nagging “I feel like I’ve forgotten something…”

That’s a struggle we all contend with at some point, and it’s a helpless kind of feeling. Taking a test, giving a speech, packing for a trip, hell – just going to the grocery store and having that feeling come over you as you’re debating which 12-item or fewer line you should stand in and will anyone notice you really have 13 items? (And how guilty should I feel about that 13th item anyway?)

We strive for perfection: for ourselves, for our families, for work. We can’t afford mistakes. They cost time, money, confidence.

But perfection costs even more than all that, and it’s not a realistic goal.

One of my favorite actors, Michael J. Fox says “I strive for excellence. Perfection is God’s business.”

Whether or not you believe in g/God(s) isn’t the point.

This idea of excellence vs. perfection is an idea I have instilled in my son; but why is it so hard for me to embrace? It’s not as though I’ve actually achieved “perfection” in my pursuits; many have turned out “well” and I’ve been just as happy!

The fact is, just like so much else in life, I am a work in progress. Perfection isn’t required. Only that I show up and do my best.

cropped finger and string for logoI just need to be reminded.

So I’ve decided I’m going to get smarter and ask for help, from friends and family: apparently I don’t have to be perfect because they love me anyway (go figure!). Besides, can’t we all benefit from some help remembering the most important things in life when we get so busy being ‘us’?

Remind me, and I’ll remind you, and we’ll all be good.

So, that’s what’s up with the blog name.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the store. We’re out of bread and cat food and, um, something else. I’ll figure it out – or not – in the checkout line.

Until Tuesday, Friends. Cheers!

Are we there yet?

Well friends, here we are!

On this, my 51st birthday, I would like to thank you all for following me here!  I felt that launching on my birthday was a gift to myself I’d always remember and I am grateful you are all here to celebrate with me.

I hope in the following weeks and months to come that you enjoy these posts; that some of them will resonate; that you’ll leave me a comment; that you’ll want to share with others; or maybe one of them will just give you a good chuckle for the day.

So without further ado:  I feel like I’ve forgotten something….


I keep waiting.IMG_0897

One of these days, someone from the birthday police is going to track me down and say “We’re terribly sorry,” (and I always hear it in an uppercrusty English accent) “but you’re not really as old as you think you are.” And I look at my driver’s license, and suddenly I see The Math has been all wrong all this time, and I’m NOT as many years old as the bad, faulty Math led me to believe (I also get bonus happy points because in this scenario, The MATH is wrong which is a total 180 from our usual relationship).

It’s not that I had a problem with 30, 40, 50, or even 51 (we’ll see how the rest of the decade shakes out; I’ll keep you posted). But in my head, well, I’m just not old enough to be in my 50s.

I’m not sure when The Math first started going wrong. I remember thinking – briefly – when Z was born “Am I really old enough (ie, responsible enough?) to have this little person entrusted to me?” I was (only) 35. And it was only a brief thought because, well, then ‘being a Mom’ happened and I haven’t had time to have a longer, more leisurely thought since, unless I hide in the bathroom or the walk-in closet (although the cats have discovered me there, and if you have cats, you know there’s no time for yourself, only for them). But every now and then, there are moments in time that I think “I can’t possibly be this old…right?”

Moments such as:

-When you stop being carded.

-When staying out past 10pm is enough to throw you off all the next day (remember when you could stay out with friends until 2am and still function just fine at work?).

-The first morning you wake up and something/everything hurts – and you didn’t even have a good time getting that way.

-When your doctor is suddenly younger than you.

-You get called “Ma’am” (does “Sir” bother men as much?)

-When you look at your child’s homework and think “they just aren’t teaching it the way they used to” – and you hear it in your grandpa’s voice.

-When the waiter/waitress starts carding you (and let’s face it, they know full well you’re over 21) because they think it’s going to score them points and get them a bigger tip (which it might).

And then the inevitable comparisons to your parents creep in. Your subconscious is trying to get a grip:

“My parents weren’t this much fun when THEY were (insert age here).”

“My parents looked a lot older when THEY were (insert age here).”

“My parents acted a lot older than I do when THEY were (you know the drill).”

And of course, we have the catch phrases that are supposed to make us all feel so much younger: “40 is the new 30.” “50 is the new 40.” And I kid you not, I just saw “60 is the new 50.” It’s only a matter of time before we see and hear “70 is the new 60,” (is anyone else starting to believe a Baby Boomer must have come up with this idea of bumping us all back a decade?) I do think we’ll all need to be more than a little scared when they start skipping decades all together. If I read “80 is the new 25” I’m outta here. That’s just bad voodoo and that can’t be good for you.

No wonder I feel like I’m off a few years. You, too?

If I stop to really think about it, though, I really do not mind aging. I’ve had some pretty amazing moments. I am a better parent. I’m open to more ideas. I DO mind the mystery aches and the fact that some things just don’t work like they used to (and ok, I really don’t like being called “ma’am”). But I DON’T mind having the knowledge not to make the same mistakes I used to. I DON’T mind feeling completely comfortable in my own skin now. I DON’T mind that I am much more choosey about the battles I’ll wage. As for the ones requiring a fight? I will attack with more ferocity and heart than anyone ever thought possible. And I’ll win now.

IMG_3580I guess that’s what all those heartbreaks and mean girls and unfair decisions – and fireworks and best friends and sometimes just pure luck – were meant to eventually teach us. What I’ve realized now is that we needed to listen to the lessons at 10, 20, 40 to really “get” the message that everything changes, and this too shall pass, and there’s SO much MORE out there! That our actual digital age has nothing to do with anything. That’s why, if we’re really diligent in our studies and pay attention to what the World is trying to teach us, we’ll understand all the sooner that the number doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with who we really are, but what we do during those digital intervals has EVERYTHING to do with it. The lesson, it seems, is in the journey. And haven’t we really always known that?   We just need to take it to heart sooner.

So if you see the birthday police wandering around my neighborhood, go ahead and send them my way. And when they say (in their uppercrusty accent) that I’m not as old as I think, I’ll tell them “No, I’m good, thanks.”

Until Friday, Friends.   Cheers!