the middle ages

A dear friend of mine – let’s call her Kate – recently pointed out that we are in our middle ages.

“Get out of here,” I texted. “I am NOT middle-aged.”

“Um, how long do you intend to live?” she asked.

“Barring random accident, I’ve got a good shot at 90.” After all, my grandmother is in her late 90s and her mother lived to be 101.

“And half of 90 is…?”

I did some quick math in my head. Dammit.

How can 45 be the middle ages? For that matter, I don’t even feel 45. Or at least I didn’t until over the weekend, when I went to the wedding of another dear friend, let’s call her Laura. While a majority of the guests were (like Laura and her groom) in their early 30s, it didn’t occur to me how much older I am until I sat down to dinner.

“Are you a friend of the bride’s mother?” the woman next to me asked. She clearly was a guest of the same generation of the mother of the bride. Obviously she should have recognized I am not.

Or maybe I am delusional.

My goal has always been to age gracefully. That means instead of planning on surgical interventions or injections, I spend less time in the sun and more money on skincare. I do color my hair and get an LED facial every three-to-four months, but that’s about as extreme as I plan to get. I have firm rule against wearing mom jeans, but also nothing screaming teenybopper graces my closet. I drink at least ten glasses of water a day. I work out. Come on! I am not old enough to be a friend of the mother of bride!

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Sigh. It is what it is. I will concede to being in my middle ages, but only because it’s a better than old age or… the other option. With age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom.

And maybe a few wrinkles.

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like sands through the hourglass

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I am officially mother to a fourteen-year old. While the age thirteen sounds whimsy and sixteen, scary, I’m not sure what to say about fourteen. I barely remember myself at that age.

I turned fourteen in 1983. Like my son, I was in 8th grade. Unlike my son, I had a perm, bad feathered bangs and wore bright purple eye makeup. I’d never been kissed. Return of the Jedi came out that year, but I only know that because I googled 1983 cultural occurrences. Apparently my mom was paying a buck-thirty-five for a gallon of milk and a dime less for gas.

But back to Jack. I asked this sprouting teenager over breakfast what responsibility he’d like to be granted in honor of his 14th year.

“The right to do everything I want,” he said, foam of a homemade latte on his lip.

“Doing everything is overrated,” I replied. “Really, what do you wish you had the freedom to do?”

We talked about his taking the metro alone or going to the movies with friends. Maybe a solo metro ride to the movies with friends. Otherwise, I was at a loss for suggestions, and Jack didn’t have any ideas either. Moms of fourteen-year olds, I’m open to your thoughts. Essentially, I want to give him space to grow, but within the bounds of what’s safe. A doable challenge that will make him feel good about himself. And then I want to help him build on the added responsibility rather than force him to drink from the firehose of adulthood. I don’t have many more years left to shape this soon-to-be young adult. I want to get it right.

I’m not one to miss the years gone by, but tonight we will look at his baby book, sing happy birthday and celebrate the funny, thoughtful, witty, guy he’s growing to be.

with gratitude

Fourteen years ago, I awoke to a bright blue sky and the hint of crisp fall temperatures. And contractions. Ten-to-twelve minutes apart.

“What do you want to do?” my husband asked when he saw me with the stopwatch.

“D’uh, go to work. If I sit around all day timing contractions, this baby will never be born.” (After all, this was years before the Red Sox would win their first World Series of my lifetime, which I know only makes sense to New Englanders.)

We got into the car for the commute to Capitol Hill. Our drive took us by the Pentagon. Not that I noticed. I usually took a pregnancy-induced early morning power nap as we sat in bumper-to-bumper. On September 11th, I woke up from my car slumber, per usual, just as we exited the Third Street Tunnel. I got door-to-door service, dropped off directly in front of the Senate office building where I worked.

By the time I reached my desk, an infamous day was in the making.

I don’t know why my unborn baby, his father and I were chosen to live on 9-11 when so many others perished. But I do know I’m grateful. Grateful to those who prevented the fourth plane from flying into the Capitol. Grateful for the heroes who emerged in our nation’s time of need. Grateful my son waited four days to enter this unpredictable world.

This morning, the sky is bright and the air cool. The world is crazy but heroes still exist. And that baby is on the cusp of his fourteenth birthday.