This is 3:
She is fierce in so many ways. She has a British accent.
She puts on her own shoes, and picks out her own clothes, and brushes her own teeth, except when she doesn’t. She still likes to be hand-fed breakfast but not, I repeat, NOT because she is a baby. She just discovered that her best friend Charlotte wipes herself, and now the shouts of “Mummy! I did pooooooo poooooo!” have become “Mummy. I did NOT do poo poo. But please do not come in here because I am shutting the door because I need privacy.”
She adores her brother, except when she doesn’t. Every soccer jersey comes in twos: one for him, one for her, both to be worn at the exact same time ALWAYS. She will be a pink Power Ranger this Halloween, because her brother is the red one. She was unable to convince him that they should both go as princesses. When she finds something funny, she says “Weeyum, Weeyum, isn’t that a little bit funn-nay???” and holds her laugh until he agrees.
She insists that she and I call each other “Momoge” and “Popoge”, but frequently changes who gets what. She spends every spare minute playing teacher with her “children,” who are named Violet, Big Boy, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim and Chim. I may have forgotten a Tim. She dresses them in old baby clothes that I have carefully packed away and speaks to them in the way that she hears me speaking to her. It has, on more than one occasion, caused me to rethink a particular turn of phrase.
As the great scribe Mr. William Joel said: “She’s frequently kind, and she’s suddenly cruel / She can do as she pleases, she’s nobody’s fool.” But in the end, Poppy is always a wonderful little girl to me. Even when I feel like she is trying to kill me.
This is 33.
I am extraordinarily happy and content with my life, except when I am wracked with massive anxiety over how much I wish I had accomplished already. Why do I keep taking jobs that are *just* outside of my comfort zone? Why didn’t I go to journalism school? Why don’t I read more parenting books? Why don’t we own a house? Why don’t I have a teeth whitening regime?
I am enjoying being settled in my life, except when that scares the bejeezus out of me. I am slowly, slowly starting to feel that whole “I don’t give a f*ck what people think” thing that I’m told comes with age. Virtually every good thing in my life has come from giving quite a few f*cks about what everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) thinks of me, so this is a terrifying development.
I don’t feel a day over 27, except when I am so incredibly glad that I am not 27. I am ragingly jealous when I hear about people who still get to go to places that offer bottle service and have doormen with ear pieces; I honestly prefer quiet restaurants where I can actually hear my friends talk, and I belong to two book clubs. Sometimes I think about skipping those book clubs to hang out at home on the couch with my kids and make s’mores and watch Bear Gorillas (“Born Survivor: Bear Grylls”, for those of you who don’t hang out with us on the reg).
I’m less “Captain Jack will get you high tonight” and more “A bottle of white, a bottle of red / Perhaps a bottle of rose instead” and I’m mostly OK with that. Except when I’m not.
This is 63.
My mother can get people to tell her their entire life story in 15 minutes, details that most people never would have dreamed to ask about. She told me once, when discussing therapists, that she could never have been a psychiatrist because “who wants to listen to other people complain all day?” Instead she became a social worker.
She would share absolutely every single detail of her inner thoughts and emotions with me if she thought it would give me the tiniest bit of comfort or guidance or amusement. But she frequently tries to rush me off of the phone because she’s sure that I have something more important to do than talk to her. I do not.
She would rather die than intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings, but loves to tell me when she is able to work a zinger into a conversation with an insufferable ass. There is nothing I love more than overanalyzing people with her, and incredulously discussing how they could possibly be so different from the way our family thinks and behaves.
She has given every bit of herself for our family, even when it drove us mad. I could never understand why she always had to take care of “one more thing” any time we were on our way anywhere, inevitably making us just a few minutes late; I get it now. I also appreciate that she told me “in New York, it’s tacky to be on time.” We lived in Missouri.
She loves my children with a patience and fortitude that I try to mimic when I’m feeling like throwing things instead of getting down on their level and explaining why, for the 5 millionth time, they cannot do whatever insanely inappropriate thing they want to do. And occasionally, instead of trying control them and get them into line, I just let them do the damn thing because they are only children. She and my father taught me that children should be the center of the universe, and I try my hardest to give my kids a bit of that magical love and support as well.
I may not call as much as I should, and yes, I did move her grandchildren to an entirely different country, but I hear her voice constantly in everything I do. She truly is always the woman to me.