On the Eve of 44

There are still many days when I feel like a fraud — like I’m just pretending to be an adult and at any moment someone is going to recognize that I’m just a kid wearing eyeliner and mom jeans.

Time keeps on tickingIt’s Birthday Eve for me. Tomorrow I’ll wake up the big double-four. And how do I feel about that, you may ask?

Honestly? I. Don’t. Know.

Is it just me, or is 44 kind of the no-man’s-land of ages? Caught in between youngish and oldish, 44 just kind of stands there with a blank stare before offering up a shrug and an apathetic “Eh.”

I mean, I really can no longer pretend to be young. And to be perfectly honest, this kind of stings because there are still many days when I feel like a fraud — like I’m just pretending to be an adult and at any moment someone is going to recognize that I’m just a kid wearing eyeliner and mom jeans.

So even though I may still feel young, in all reality I am not. Heck, according to actuaries I’ve already cruised past the halfway mark of my life expectancy. But here’s the thing: I’m not really old, either.

And therein lies the rub. (And that right there didn’t make me sound old at all.)

Poor 44 seems to be caught in a custody battle between young and old. And in the meantime, 44 is just kind of there.

I’m too old to find it fun to pass around the Jello shots, too young to find it fun to pass around the blood pressure cuff. Too old to have kids (I think), too young to have grandkids (I hope). Too old to get ID’d buying a six-pack of beer at Git ‘n Go, too young to get the $3 senior discount at the movie theater.

At 44, I can no longer in good faith claim to be “just over 40.” But I’m not yet close enough to the next decade that it feels good to boast, “I’ve still got a couple good years ’til 50, by golly!”

If 44 were ice cream, it would, of course, be vanilla. But not even the good vanilla with the little black specks of real vanilla beans — the Super Savers No-Name Best Value brand that’s more yellow than white and tastes like disappointment.

Eh. 44. Whatever.

Maybe this is a license to just do as I darn well please. You think I’m dressing too young? You think I’m acting too old? Geez, I’m 44, what do you expect?

I do believe I’ve officially reached the awkward stage of middle age. But instead of that gangly pre-teen in braces and an “I’d rather b texting!!” T-shirt, I’m that 40-something wearing skinny jeans while I get my grays colored.

So, ready or not, here I come. Bring it on, 44.

I guess we’re stuck with each other.

A Whirlwind of a Week

Last week was a wee bit crazy in these here parts. I will blame my lack of posts on that. Sounds like a good excuse anyway…

So first of all, we had Meet the Teacher last Monday. This is where you’re supposed to tote your wagonfull of school supplies to the classroom, find the locker and the bathroom and say hello to the teacher that will see your child more than you will for the next nine months. All went well, except for that school supplies part. Since when did schools get so darn specific about what to bring? I mean, I know we didn’t even have lists we had to follow when I was in school. Heck, I think the teachers were happy if we came wearing two shoes (bonus if they matched!), let alone sporting our four large glue sticks and 6-pack of dry erase markers. Ahh, the good ol’ days.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not dissing teachers. I married one, and I used to be one myself. I understand that teachers can’t afford to supply their own kleenex and Ziploc bags, and school budgets have been cut so much that supplying pencils and paper for students is no longer a possibility. But man, it’s not only getting expensive as a parent, but it’s also getting a little bit frustrating having to scour the tri-state area for a PLASTIC yellow folder and paper folders in red, yellow, green, blue and purple that have only two pockets and do NOT include prongs — when everyone else is looking for the same things! I’m surprised there hasn’t been a Cabbage Patch Kid-style knock down drag out in the back-to-school aisles yet over the last green wide-ruled spiral-bound notebook. I’m sure that day is coming soon . . .

So back to my Monday. Did I mention that my last child was headed to kindergarten? Yeah, I am feeling old. And sad. Here are the two elementary dudes in front of their school.

Sometimes Big Brother likes showing Little Brother the ropes.

Tuesday was our last day of summer vacation — AND Boy #3’s 6th birthday! Bad timing on my part, I know. So I had to try to get the kids in the back-to-school mode, including getting one ready for kindergarten, without shafting him of a fun birthday. Blerg.

After opening presents Tuesday morning, we went to do what EVERY kid wants to do on his birthday — go to the doctor! And not only that, but get a finger prick AND three shots! Oh, it was a joyous time, especially when Boy #3’s finger would not stop bleeding after the finger prick and blood was completely soaking the Band-Aid, and as I’m trying to calm him down from that, in come the nurses and we have to hold him down while he gets the shots in his leg. Honest to Pete, I have never heard another child scream as loudly as he screamed getting the shots. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed. I know they could hear it in the waiting room, and probably down the block.

So after that fun little adventure, I was one less-than-popular mom. But, I assured Boy #3, we’re going to go have FUN now! We’re going to the Iowa State Fair!

And then we stepped outside and realized that it was not just raining but POURING. Cats, dogs and I’m pretty sure guinea pigs were raining down.

Great, of course, the one day we had free to go to the fair. The weather forecast only called for light rain in the morning, but after wandering through Barnes & Noble for an hour listening to kids whine, “Can we GO now?!” we realized that the weather forecasters were on crack. It was dark, it was cold, it was wet, and it wasn’t going to stop.

Determined to do something “fun” for our boy’s birthday, we decided to go to Incredible Pizza for the pizza buffet, arcade games and mini golf.

Apparently, every other family in the county who had been planning to go to either the state fair or Adventureland (the amusement park in town) had the exact same idea.

Awesome.

What’s worse? Tromping through rain and mud to see the Biggest Boar and the Butter Cow, or being held captive inside a Chuck E. Cheese on steroids with at least a hundred other people? At least at the fair I could’ve tried a deep-fried Twinkie on a stick . . .

But Boy #3 had a good time, as did the other two. And I only had to go on one 45-minute quest to find a worker who could credit $3.50 back on Boy #2’s card after the mini golf machine ate his money. And we only had to wait in line for a little over a half hour in order to redeem our tickets for fabulous prizes.

Every mother wants a photo of her 6-year-old holding a gun on his birthday.
Boy #3 with all of his "treasures" from Incredible Pizza. Boy #1 gave him all of his tickets, and Boy #2 won him that groovy stuffed alien in "The Claw" machine.
Waiting . . . and waiting . . . in line for prizes.

After finally getting home from Incredible Pizza, I had to make a trip to Target because being the good mom I am, I didn’t have a cake or anything for my poor guy’s birthday. So I went and picked up a totally generic cake, and even though I offered to make him anything he wanted for supper, he opted for something that made me feel like an even more loserish mom . . .

Boy #3 with his special homemade birthday supper.

Yep, a Lunchable. That’s what he wanted.

Boy #3 started blowing out his candles before we'd barely begun singing "Happy Birthday." Let's get this over with and get to the CAKE!

So after hopping the boys up on sugar, it was time to brush their teeth and go to bed so they could get up and tackle their first day of school in the morning.

Oh, and did I mention that the frosting on the cake gave me severe stomach cramps? Yes, I was doubled over trying to help the kids get their clothes laid out and teeth brushed.

No, it wasn’t stressful at all.

Nor was the next morning when Boy #3 had a complete screaming meltdown because he was SURE that it would be okay if he took his Nintendo DS to school with him. His teacher would NOT CARE, he said.

Thankfully, it went better after I actually got him to school (without the DS), and he went off and did his thing like the big boy that he now is.

Boy #3 can literally put 100-piece puzzles together better than I can, but he still sat like a good boy at the puzzle table on his first day of school.

And I didn’t even cry, even though I felt like it. Such a weird feeling to send your baby off to school.

And so far, 7th grade (yes, I have a SEVENTH GRADER, who not only has armpit hair, by the way, but also has a newly acquired DEEPER VOICE), 3rd grade and kindergarten are all starting off to be positive transitions. Thank you, God.

Boy #1 on his first day of 7th grade. He will kill me if he sees that I posted this on my blog. I am "sooooo embarrassing!"
Boy #2 ready to tackle 3rd grade.
Boy #1, screams stifled, tears dried and ready to face kindergarten.

So I’m sorry I took a little hiatus from posting, but after our whirlwind start to the week, I spent the remainder of the week in a near-catatonic state. I’m feeling a little more together this week.

But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that this too shall pass . . .

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