Birthdays

NO HAPPY BIRTHDAYS HERE

As of today, I have dragged this carcass around the sun 37 times now. I know that doesn’t exactly put me in the category of wizened old broad just yet, but I have come to the realization over the past year that time is marching directly on, right across my face. I have upped my game a little bit and tried to live a balanced, healthy, outlook regime. It seems a popular thing to do to overshare lifestyle routines on various social media outlets, and I want nothing more than to be popular. So here you go; this is how you be a somewhat presentable 37 year old woman with various neuroses.

Sleep

Sleep no more minutes per night than your age in years. My body steadfastly maintains that rule, and has for nearly four decades now. So fuck you, science; insomnia doesn’t kill.

Exercise

I do get my heart rate up from time to time, mostly getting generally feminist mad about people telling me to lean in/employ parenting methods/be more mindful/eat more kale/generally put in any effort into anything besides subsisting. Not only does this have cardio benefit, but yelling is good for the lung capacity too.

For the past year I have also had intensive daily cardio whenever I drop my kids off at daycare. Among other daily atrocities, I think I can sum up our entire daycare experience in telling you that we had to find TWO CHICKEN COSTUMES for their Christmas play December. With two weeks notice. In December. When Christmas is. I drop my kids off at daycare because I have a full time job, and it is not as a chicken costumer. The subtext was that we should make the costumes because we don’t spend enough quality time with our kids. Two weeks before Christmas. In December. In terms of cardio effort, I should be thanking them for saving me thousands of dollars on a personal trainer.

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We actually had one chicken costume. I made my husband drive an hour and a half out of town for the second chicken costume, only to have our children refuse to sing the song  in front of an audience. I still don’t understand what happened because the song was in Spanish. But I assume there is a Christmas Chicken. There’d better be a fucking Christmas Chicken.

Then there’s all the idiot attempts that I make at doing shit that I am not prepared for. Like this for example:

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Those are my cousin’s hands firmly on my butt. She is the only thing between me and 30 burpees. And death.

My cousin asked me to do this, and I NEARLY DIED. It was one of those obstacle races, on the hottest day of the year, and I was grateful to wallow about in the mud pit to have some relief from the dust and heat. At my worst moment, a mystical unicorn of a woman well into her 70’s (who I mentally named Helen, because it felt generationally appropriate)  breezed past me. Instead of the demoralizing effect of crumpling into the dust to let an army of fit young dudes with something to prove trample my corpse, it spurred me on. If Helen could do this goddamned race, so could I. When I finished, my dad congratulated me by saying “wow, I was pretty sure your cousin would make it, but I thought you’d die out there.”

That’s me, exceeding expectations.

Diet

I am a really strict omnivore. I just really go out of my way to eat every goddamned thing I see to adhere to my principles. I have also skipped the cheap gin and tonics and switched to fancy gin and fancy tonic, which has had an enormous benefit because I can no longer afford to drink to the point of hangover. I also look at a LOT of healthy recipes on pinterest and share the fuck out of things like squash tacos and whatnot on Facebook and I rail about organic foods and GMOs literally all the time. I mean, I haven’t actually implemented most of these dietary changes at home, but change has to start somewhere right? Armchair activism is as good as any other method of anything out there.

Hobbies

Look, you gotta stay mentally sharp. My recent blog posts are fairly indicative of my primary hobbies, which are “having ennui about children growing up too fast” and “comparing everything to flowers”. Consider the lilies and all that.

I also keep bees and suffered a LOT of bee stings last year, you guys. So goddamned many. I was not sad even a little bit when one of my hives died over the winter because those things were jerks. They were honeybees masquerading as Japanese hornets. My thighs were constantly throbbing, and not in a fun way, but because they were constantly full of venom.

 

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Q: Which hand got stung by a bee? A: You have stupid hobbies, lady.

So anyway, between ennui and metabolizing venom, I feel like I really have this hobby thing nailed down. No one is getting bored around here.

Grooming

If you look good, you feel good. Although my husband would argue that I have long since given up on making myself appealing at most points of the day, I do spend an inordinate amount of time and money maintaining my “I don’t give a fuck” appearance. You would be SHOCKED to learn that my hair is not naturally blonde, and neither is my 93 year old grandmother’s. Yet here we are.

I have an army of women who tend to my various bits and bobs as they start the long (hopefully) slow march toward death. Estheticians, massage therapists, personal trainers.  It’s a slippery slope to duck lips and immovable foreheads, friends. For now I am hung up on expensive potions and ablutions though, and that is giving me the false sense of security that I have stopped aging in it’s tracks.

Which is why I found myself siphoning a precious “brightening oil” off bathroom counter with a medicine dropper when my son dumped it out. Twice. He came out of the bathroom smelling suspiciously like tangerines, and I knew right away that I was in one of those precarious parenting situations where I didn’t want to teach him that possessions are anything to freak the fuck out over, or that aging creams are important. What I ended up teaching him was that Mommy will cry as she desperately uses her City recreation pass to cut the oil into strips to be sucked up like so much precious cocaine using the a leftover syringe for dog medicine (I don’t think cocaine is particularly precious but as my only pop culture reference to how I managed to get oil back in a tiny bottle let’s just say it made me feel pretty desperate.)

Anyway, it was totally worth it because my skin is so bright it lights up like a goddamned Christmas tree now. No, it doesn’t, but it should for what I paid.

So. To conclude: sleep, exercise, diet, hobbies, grooming: CHECK. I’ve got this shit all locked up. I can cruise well into my 90’s with no concerns for the future. Keep on keepin’ on. Or something.

DO NOT WISH ME A HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Instead, tell me what you do to stay youthful, or whether you give a hot damn at all.

Five

This boy is going to wake up 5 today.

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And so will this one.

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Technically, they were born mid-morning, but only for a minute will I have a 4 year old and a 5 year old and then 4 will be a memory. A fellow twin mom lamented how there is no time to think about it when it’s over; no going back when your second child reaches that age. No reflection. I never felt that more than this year, where I was just trying to keep pace with the relentless nature of four. Until this year, their needs were always fairly easily met; exhausting, but simple. An endless run of snacks, meals, drinks, diapers, and desperately seeking any form of socialization.

Then four comes and all that goes out the flipping window. Suddenly I am knee deep in shark puppets.

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Hiding treasure boxes.

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Conceptualizing dreams.

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Having birthday parties for angry birds

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And in between swimming, soccer, preschool, piano, snowboarding, dance parties, camping, and the library, there is the more mundane aspects of life. As we make beds, we are answering how babies are made, what happens when we die, and every question that can be made out of all permutations of words in the English language.

Doesn't this look like it ended calmly? It didn't. SOMEONE'S BUTT GOT BITTEN AND IT WASN'T SOMEONE I KNOW.

Doesn’t this look like it ended calmly? It didn’t. SOMEONE’S BUTT GOT BITTEN AND IT WASN’T SOMEONE I KNOW.

Suddenly, this year, I had to think about what would happen if a shark ate a turtle, or ate a people, or ate another shark, or ate a dead sperm whale, or if the shark died, or if people ate a shark, or what things eat in the abyssal zone. If I stopped to think too hard, if I had the time, it would seem to me that life is SO unfair, that things get eaten and die. But my four year olds, now five year olds, take this all in stride. Life is what it is, and it is their job to figure out what that it is.

We help them navigate daycare politics, but more often than not, I find myself just listening in on their conversations; clues to the things that are important to them. What I hear is secrets and jokes that they have with their friends; the first things that I won’t understand. I see a decade into the future; a world entirely their own. I know we’re on our way to that.

Life is big and complicated, and it’s impossible to keep up with little brains that never stop. Looking back at how much they’ve grown this year, it makes me also realize how much I haven’t; I am constantly trying to apply the same expectations and methods to boys who have clearly outpaced us. I’ve had a lot of failures this year, tripping over myself and my words, and letting my own feelings get in the way of being a good parent. Hopefully, all they see is that I tried really hard, tried to be present with them. But now, more than ever, I feel behind them. Constantly trying to catch up to something I’ll never grasp again.

Every year, on their birthday, our mayday tree blooms. For a few days before and after, our front yard has erupted in white. I like to imagine it is just for them, even though the tree long preceded their birth and mayday trees have been blooming for time immemorial. I tell them that it’s their birthday present, and we  stop to look at the flowers and the little ecosystem of bugs they host. This year, the mayday is a little late. Like everything this year. I hope it’s enough for you, sweet boys. I hope you don’t notice how far behind you the world is; just keep powering ahead and we’ll all catch up. Or maybe I’ll just stop for a bit to watch you blaze ahead; I don’t want to miss the streak you leave trying in vain to keep up.

What this photo mostly told me is that I need a new macro lens for my camera. My birthday is also happening, family.

Maydays just about to go. What this photo mostly told me is that I need a new macro lens for my camera. My birthday is also happening, family.

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday. Your old mom loves you more than you know.

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The unicorn and his many “smile!” faces this year.. things that are important to remember.

Also, thank you to Brother Jon for the shout out. If you don’t read his blog, you really should. The internet needs more gentle, kind people like him. On the plus side, he’s also funny and goodlooking. And SMART. He even understands what engineers want sometimes.