In defense of the friend finder

A few months ago, a friend of mine from college sent me a message on Facebook.
“I found Mark and Karen!” she wrote. “And they’re married!”
I was a mix of surprise and totally not surprised. But mostly I was so happy for my two buddies from our single years. Immediately, I made a friend request, and within a few days, I was snooping around to find out what had become of my two friends.
I hadn’t seen Mark in nearly 15 years. I hadn’t seen Karen since right after I was married, about 13 years ago. Somehow, in all of their various moves to Russia, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas City and Arizona, we had lost track of each other.
I did a little snooping around Facebook, as any long, lost friend would do. I found out that after yeas of on-and-off dating, they had gotten married two years ago. I saw photos of them scaling gorgeous rocks in Arizona and looking like neither of them had aged one single day.
On Sunday, they sent me a message through Facebook. They were home from Arizona, visiting Karen’s mom who lives just a few miles from my house! Could they come for a visit?
I have to admit that this thought, at first, made me very nervous. I wanted to write back and say, “Yes, you can visit. But you have to understand. I’m 41 now! I have given birth to FOUR children! I drive a minivan. We might not have a very peaceful conversation. And my baby throws her food on the floor. It’s not always pretty.”
You see. There’s something very comforting about living inside this computer. There’s something very safe about hiding behind the wall of Facebook. There’s something nice and cozy about living inside my blog. I only have to show you the pretty parts. I only have to tell you what is nice and happy. And you can’t see my wrinkles or the food on the floor or hear the children argue.
Maybe my marathon-running, mountain-climbing, professional friends would shake their heads at my minivan and my house in cookie-cutter suburbia. My home-schooling, stay-at-home mom self was remembering my ambitious, carefree, single self, and I wasn’t sure if they would even recognize me. It had been so long.
As the time grew closer for their arrival, I started getting excited. “It’s Mark and Karen! Why am I worrying?!” I was thinking about heaven, to tell you the truth. It must be so fun to show up in heaven one day and see friends you haven’t seen in decades! It must be so fun to be reunited as one big family, never to be separated again.
And so with all of these thoughts fresh in my mind, I did what only I would do when they walked up to my door. I started crying. That’s one way to break the ice, I guess.
We immediately started talking about the time Mark put the car in reverse and spilled an extra large Coke all over my lap. The time Karen and I were roommates, and I spilled a big tray of enchiladas on the (very dirty) floor, then served them anyway to our dinner guests. The times Karen and I drove to St. Louis to meet up with Mark, who lived in Kansas City.
We laughed. And my heart was filled with so much joy at that immediate connection you feel with people who knew you before. They knew me before marriage. Before kids. When we were all young and had dreams and plans. And now, here we were, in our 40s, not doing what we had planned. And we were all old enough to realize those things didn’t really matter anyway.
We could pick up again right where we left off. We had all gone through heartache and pain and loss and joy and happiness, and we could meet again right where we were.
So, I had one of those days where I was happy for Facebook and the friend finder. And even happier for old friends who are new friends again.

dec2010emily

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My inner bird

I found out recently that just a few months after I was born, another very special and influential set of characters also came into the world.

This week, Sesame Street celebrated its 40th birthday.

Just think, if I had been born a few years earlier, I might have missed the chance to spend my “nursery school” years with Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, The Count, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Who would have taught me to count? Where would I have learned my letters and numbers? I mean Discovery Toys wasn’t even born until 10 years later!

Sesame Street was really the best thing on TV when I was a kid. What was the other choice back then? Mr. Rogers?

I kept hearing this week about an online quiz people were taking to find out the identity of the Sesame Street character they are most like. I always have a hard time with those types of quizzes. It’s so hard to answer honestly vs. answering what you think you should answer and subconsciously trying not to answer a certain way because you KNOW it will mean you are Bert.

In the end, I was amazed at how accurate my description turned out to be:

You are Big Bird. You have a wonderful imagination and you are very creative. You sometimes can get too excited over new things, which often leads to you being disappointed when things don’t turn out like you planned. But you never stay down for long and always try again.

So, go take the quiz and then come back and tell me who you are. But most importantly, you have to give me your description, too! I really want to know. Please??

Oh… and that’s what I’m thankful for today. Sesame Street. A time when kids could eat cookies like a monster without worrying about the ingredient list or whether they would get crumbs on the floor. A day when Bert and Ernie could share a bedroom, and no one read anything into it. A time when it was OK to be a grouch or a big, tall, geeky yellow bird.

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Oh, so fabulous

I have been seeing a lot of news reports lately about all of the stars who are oh-so “Fabulous after 40”. Jennifer Aniston probably leads the pack, along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger, who both celebrated their 40th this year.

Here’s my friend, Jen, showing off her perfection in this tiny, sparkly dress.


I think it’s kind of cool that these female stars are proving that their careers don’t have to end at 40. They haven’t been relegated to the roles of the moms of teen-agers. They still play the hip, hot, happening leads roles on the movie screen. Many of them do look better than ever.

But, I wonder? Would they be quite so perfect without their personal trainers? Or if they had been pregnant and given birth once, not to mention two, three, four or even five times. I give Zeta-Jones credit for maintaining her good looks after childbirth. But does she have a nanny who gets up in the middle of the night, changes the diapers and stands in the preschool line?

How many of them keep their healthy glow because their chefs are cooking meals made from all-organic food? And what about their skin? I’m sure those frequent exfoliations at the spa don’t hurt?

About the same day I spotted Jen in her sparkly dress, THIS photo of ME was released.


My son captured all of my fabulousness when we visited my daughter’s preschool class. I love how he zoomed in on my prego-ness.


Here I am being attacked by the preschoolers who wanted to get hands-on with the book I brought for Alayna’s birthday. I betcha that doesn’t happen to Jen very often.

When I saw my photo next to Jen’s, I was tempted at first to compare myself to her. But I don’t want to make her feel bad.

It’s not her fault that she probably doesn’t have to come up with a meal plan for a family of five each day. It’s not her fault she doesn’t get to hang out in the preschool line. She can’t help it that she has never developed a laundry system as innovative as mine.

She would probably love cleaning the toilet if she ever tried. Even more, she would love teaching her 9- and 7-year-old boys to clean up all of the extra mess they left in and around the toilet. And she would love the extra challenge of doing it while keeping her nails beautiful.

I’ve been thinking about all of the 40-year-olds I know. Many of them don’t own sparkly silver dresses, like Jen.

They volunteer at school. They serve in their church. They keep their households running smoothly around one or more children. They have endured pregnancies. They have adopted. They have spent many nights awake with crying babies, puking children or waiting for their new drivers to come home from a date.

They have grown wiser through the experiences. They have great stories to tell. They are loved in a way one can only experience when it comes from a devoted husband, a needy newborn or a sensitive 9-year-old.

And, yes. They are fabulous inside and out!

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Oops, I did it again

The second day of preschool, my daughter had a homework assignment.

On Day #3, we were supposed to send back to school a paper with her answers to questions about her family, her favorite things and what she likes to do. With child #1, I would have had that assignment completed within minutes of getting home from school.

With child #3, I forgot to even empty her backpack the entire weekend.

On Monday, I was so excited that…

1. I remembered it was her birthday.
2. I had purchased her birthday treat over the weekend to take to preschool.
3. I had purchased birthday plates on which to serve the treat.
4. I had worked in an hour of home school before we dropped her off for preschool at 9 a.m.
5. I had found a shirt in my closet that fit.
6. I had managed to get out of bed at 6 a.m. to decorate previously-mentioned door, chair, and kitchen for birthday.
7. I had purchased her birthday gifts and wrapped them the night before.
8. I remembered to send something to preschool that started with an “M”, the letter of the day.

… I completely forgot the homework assignment. And this shortcoming was announced to all of the parents in the pick-up line at the end of class.

It seems to be the story of my life lately.

  • I’m sorry. I forgot to call you back.
  • I’m sorry. I forgot to listen to my voice mail… for three days.
  • I forgot to pay the cell phone bill, and they turned off my service. When it was finally back, I was so scared to listen to my voice mail, that I didn’t get your message for three weeks.
  • I’m sorry. I forgot to respond to your e-mail.
  • I read your blog, but I forgot to leave a comment.
  • I forgot to say thank you.
  • I forgot to send a thank you note.
  • I forgot what time we were supposed to be there.
  • I’m sorry, kids. I forgot to make dinner.
  • I do have my super simple meal plan, but I forgot to buy half of the ingredients.
  • I keep finding little slips of paper all over the house with someone’s name written on them, but I forgot what I was trying to tell myself.
  • You needed a binder for co-op? I forgot.
  • You have preschool again TODAY?!?
  • What day is karate again?
  • What day is it?

The problem isn’t so much that I can’t think straight. Or focus. Or remember anything other than getting the kids through their home school subjects and getting myself to bed as early as possible.

The problem is that I’m so used to being an extreme detail person. I’m usually one who remembers. And I think ahead to remember the details that would be involved in completing a task.

Now, I can’t even remember what the task is.

And I don’t really have a coping strategy for all of this. Yes… I am using my OWN planner more than ever these days. But I keep misplacing it. (I’m pretty sure it’s WITH my sunglasses. If only I could remember where I put those.)

A few people in my life think it’s pretty funny to see me like this. I have to admit, I don’t think I’m quite as stressed because I really can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing half the time anyway. It’s kind of fun to float through life without so many worries. Until someone calls, of course, and reminds you you are an hour late and you were supposed to bring a plate of brownies.

I’m hoping that at least some of my brain cells will be restored after the baby arrives. I’m really missing the old me. The one who can remember. Maybe I’ll see her again next year?

PS… I actually wrote this post four days ago. But I forgot to hit “publish”.

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Top-secret confessions

An interesting thing has happened since the worlds of my 40-year-old pregnancy and my blog collided.

You would not believe how many women have secretly confided in me that either:

a. They have a child-shaped longing in their heart that won’t go away, but their husband isn’t on board with the plan.
b. Even though they are of advanced maternal age, they would like to have another baby.
c. They would secretly love to unexpectedly get pregnant.
d. They really want to wear cowboy boots but don’t have enough nerve.

So, I would like to dispel a few myths about advanced maternal age, as well as propose a new idea that I believe will sweep the nation.

I realize I’m only 20 weeks into this process, but this honestly has been the easiest pregnancy I have had.

With my first pregnancy, I was commuting into the city everyday, walking several miles to and from the train station, working long hours, stressed out and had no hope of taking a nap.

With the second pregnancy, I had a 1-year-old boy running around who was not the slightest bit happy with the idea of his world being invaded by another baby who might want some of his mother’s attention.

And with the third, I had two little boys, 3 and 1, who still wore diapers, needed help getting in car seats, had to have scheduled naps and had very strong negative opinions about using the potty.

Now, I have three children who can actually help empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry and clean the toilet. They can’t wait to start reading books to the baby, learn how to change diapers and help push the stroller. And the best part? They love nothing more than for their mom to take a nap because this idea holds the hope that they might get to watch TV!

So, with that reassurance, I think it’s time for all of the 40-year-olds out there who secretly want another child to come out of the closet. I know that some of you are close to sending someone off to college. You might even be enjoying long weekends away with your husband because your children are old enough to babysit for themselves. Maybe you are entering a new phase where all of your children are off at school all day and you can finally focus on your own interests.

But come on! Isn’t all of that a little over-rated?!?

Just think of a cute, cuddly little baby with soft skin who smells like baby powder. Think of the tiny clothes, the first words, first crawls, first steps.

Besides, if more people would just join me in this, we could start a whole PRODUCT LINE! We could make a special line of wrinkle remover for pregos. We could start our own exclusive playgroups for moms over 40! What about a healthy line of food for old pregnant people who are watching their cholesterol?

This could be a GROUND FLOOR opportunity! Don’t you want to get on board NOW before this idea takes off??

Come on, Ladies! Who’s with me?

Anyone? Anyone?

Hello??

Anyone? … Bueller? … Hello?

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you say it’s your birthday?…

It’s my birthday, too, yeah!

That will officially be my theme song beginning tomorrow.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have been a little obsessed with my impending birthday. I know, I know… it’s just a number. Your real age is in your mind. It’s how you act. How you think.

But I’m just not ready to say good-bye to my 30s. I’m not ready to be a fully grown, middle-aged adult on her way to the other side of the hill of life.

So, my first idea was to let it quietly pass and hope no one noticed. Well, unless you read my blog. And then it’s kind of hard to miss the 3,524 posts I’ve written about my upcoming birthday.

But, around everyone else, I was planning to be really quiet.

Seriously.

Stop laughing.

(I can hear you.)

Being the completely moderate person that I am, free of any ridiculous mood swings, I then came up with a new plan. We’ll just call it the 40 days of 40.

That’s right. Instead of counting down with dread the last days until my passage into middle age, I’m going to celebrate every last one of them. I’m going to have parties for myself, eat cake, buy gifts, eat chocolate, buy shoes, hang streamers, go out to dinner, have pedicures, dance and sing until I’m so tired of my darned birthday that I can’t wait for it to be over.

How’s that? That will show it. That will teach the calendar to taunt me. I’ll show the fine lines. I’ll teach the wrinkles a lesson. I’ll stomp on the hill, plant a flag and tell it who’s boss.

I’m turning 40, and it’s going to be fun, darn it.

The 40 days of 40 begin March 13 and continue until my actual birthday on April 21.

So, you say it’s YOUR birthday? Great! It’s my birthday, too! Let’s have a party!

Cupcakes, anyone?

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