Reflections on Turning 13

As a person who was thirteen once, surely, I have advice to give:
Don’t invite strangers when you’re alone.
Always carry a quarter so you can call home.
Be home by dark if you must roam.
Use proper etiquette when answering the house phone.

Alas, as a once-thirteen-years-old
(It’s been a bit since ’93)
The world’s moved on, it’s not the same
So my advice is rusty.

I must therefore learn what it is to be thirteen today
by watching you, my daughter dear.
After careful observation I have to say,
A certain view appears:

To be thirteen is Hunger Games discussions ‘round the clock,
And using Zoom in closets so your friends and you can talk,
And making plans and hopes and dreams and D&D campaigns,
And helping little brothers with cooking, books, and games,
And singing songs, even after we’ve asked you to stop (twice),
And being a responsible PTA mom, always ready with advice,
And ears that reject earrings, unless you wear them back to front.
All these things and more, in fact I’ll just be blunt:
Pretty and strong, successful and kind, good at everything you do,
A singer, dancer, book-worm, and perfectioniser too.

And now at last there comes the day,
Your count is down to zero.
You’re finally a teenager – hooray!
Love, your big old daddy-weirdo.

Lordy, Lordy – Thoughts on turning 40

As I have said before, I am not generally one to get stuck on milestone birthdays. I have always been fortunate enough and that makes me feel pretty good about birthdays (or maybe it’s just because I lost my hair so very, very long ago, so I’ve had no choice but to get over it). This year, for starters, I have a wonderful, healthy family, a nice house, a good job (with a surprise promotion just yesterday!), and I’m the healthiest physically I’ve been probably since high school. So I don’t exactly look back on my 30s with a lot of regrets.

All that being said, there is something about the big 4-0, and I have found myself dwelling on it a lot more than I thought I would as it approached. Not specifically the birthday itself, but just getting older in general. It seems like in the past 6 months or so, I have felt a million new aches and pains. Maybe just because it has been on my mind, I don’t know.

But it really does feel like, for the first time, I’m starting to feel “old”.

For whatever reason, when I think of “parents” or “the previous generation” I always imagine the people who would sit in the stands at like middle and high school sporting events. I don’t know why, but in any case, I can’t help but acknowledge that that’s me now, you know? (Side note: we had kids relatively young, and thank god! Parenting is so exhausting, that I seriously cannot imagine doing it any older. How could I accomplish this with any less energy?!)

I suppose the cliche is to say I feel younger than I am, and that is both true and not true. I just went over all the reasons it’s not true, but I think it’s also fair to say that I still spend time making memes and reading comic books and playing dungeons and dragons and I fall asleep nearly every night thinking about programing robots to fight other robots, which….I don’t know exactly what a 40 year old is supposed to be doing, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was that stuff.

Even with all that, there is something about the number 40, though. Yesterday, if I were talking to someone who was, let’s say 24, I would have (optimistically) thought, “Well, they’re in their 20s and I’m in my 30s, so we’re not SO different in age!” But suddenly today I have to instead think, “They’re in their 20s and I’m in my 40s. That’s a 20 year difference!”

That is a lot of aging to experience all at once.

So, you know, here I am. Middle aged. Bald, with a kid in middle school, but also probably living a better life than I had imagined I would. Struggling sometimes with parenting, but also super fulfilled by my career and hobbies, and learning new things every day. Wishing I had more time, but also happy with the way I spend my time and money.

Now just wait until I hit 50…


My 30s: One Last Time

I should probably save some of this angst for next year’s birthday post, but as I enter the last year of my 30s I do find myself reflecting on the impending big 4-0.

I have never been one to put much stock in the “milestone” birthdays, but as I am turning 39 it occurs to me that maybe that’s only because I haven’t really hit any big ones yet! 30 didn’t seem like a big deal because I *felt* like a 30 year old. I owned a house and had a second kid on the way. But I don’t know that I’m ready to be a 40 year old, and I’m suspecting to feel the same about every milestone birthday from now on.

BUT, I am going to see Hamilton (again) tonight (for the 3rd time), so it seems appropriate to say to my 30s:

One last time
Let’s take a break tonight
And then we’ll teach them how to say goodbye
to say goodbye
You and I

One last time, 30s. Let’s make this a good year, shall we?

To my mother-in-law, on her birthday

Today isn’t my mother-in-law’s birthday, but here’s the poem I wrote for her when it was:

Some birthdays are bigger than others, and this is one such year.
When these milestones arrive, you should enjoy them with extra cheer.

Forget the rules, eat what you want, take cake and eat a bunch.
Don’t listen to your idiot friends, try not to drink too much.

Embrace your birthday, live it up, and all the days between,
because it is your special day, now that you’re sixteen.

What’s that? What did you say? You’re sixty not sixteen?
Wow, you’re like…waaaay older than you seem.

You’d better sit down, this advice might be a little harder to hear,
and anyway, at your age, your legs might give out I fear.

DO I NEED TO SPEAK LOUDER? Is your hearing okay?
I want to make sure you can understand what I’m about to say.

That advice I gave was terrible, please listen to your friends.
They might not have that long to live before they meet their ends.

Maybe put some cake back, how much do you really need?
I think prunes and fiber are more your body’s speed.

I hope that this is good advice, I hope you find it useful.
When I say don’t drink too much, I’m talking Metamucil.

It’s not all bad news though, being elderly,
because of all the wisdom gained in your long history.

Us younger folk depend on your advice to get us through,
and value all the different things that we’ve been taught by you.

You help us live a better life by sharing hardships, joys, and fears
accumulated through your many, many, MANY years.

Birthday Season

In the past week we’ve celebrated a 60th birthday, an 88th birthday, a 39th anniversary, and of course Sara and my 8th anniversary. We also have Evie’s birthday coming up in less than a month, and then Sara’s right after. Busy times!

We didn’t exactly do much for Tom’s birthday, but I have to say it was quite enjoyable nonetheless. Basically we just had a big meal with everybody, but it was so delicious and it was actually a lot of fun. We all pitched in to make it and then sat down to a big feast (steaks, grilled romaine salads and a grilled squash medley, followed by homemade ice cream). There’s not much I like more than just sitting and visiting (for example, while the ice cream maker is running), so I guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

And then the next day we found out that 60’s not too old for a little wheel chair racing:

It seems like we’ve been planning Grandma Lois’ 88th birthday party for forever. Sara said afterwards that it wasn’t really that much work, but I think she is forgetting because it was spread out over a long time. However, it was all worth it, because it turned out really well. There were lots and lots of people there, plenty of food, and no issues to speak of, major or minor. We were running around like crazy the day of, but it was all worth it because I think Grandma was really happy.

The day of the party was super hot (as was every day this summer), but Sara only had pants to wear. So she improvised by borrowing some clothes from her sister. She needed a belt to match, so she further improvised by using one of her dad’s ties as a belt. Seriously you guys, she looked like a super model! It was amazing. And hilarious, because you don’t usually see super models at your grandma’s 88th birthday party. So if you thought we hired a “booth babe” to serve the ice cream, nope, that was just Sara.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of her, so I guess I’ll just put some other picture instead.