14th wedding anniversary, turning 35, and my three sons


Yesterday Noah and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary in a very 14th wedding anniversary way:

  1. We had dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date (as we've done every year)
  2. One of us counted Weight Watchers points for the meal
  3. Afterward we went to Barnes & Noble and got a coffee and some books
  4. We picked up our three children from their grandparents' house by 7:30

It was exactly the kind of anniversary celebration I would've loved at, say, year 2 (which very well might've been what we did at year 2, minus the Weight Watching), because inside I've almost always been a hip middle-aged person. Only now I'm actually a hip ALMOST middle-aged person because tomorrow I'm turning 35.

Noah and I discussed at dinner how we're in the juicy meat of life: we've been married a significant amount of time, we have young and school-aged children, our careers are pretty established (well, his is; I'm semi-retired). 

"We're in the jungle of life," Noah said. "It can be challenging but there's all sorts of cool things to discover, like ancient ruins..."



"Weird bugs! PANDA BEARS!"

"Well that's more Asian, I was thinking Indian subcontinent or maybe South America."

Which led to a discussion about what kind of bears might be available in those jungles. And neither one of us reached for our pocket computers to google the answer, because we don't always remember we can do such a mind-bending thing, as we are both elder millennials. 

At Barnes & Noble, the young* gal behind the desk helped me find Blue Mind, which I selected as my birthday present. *I'm guessing mid-20s, which is young, since I'm now in my decrepitude

"It says we have one copy," she told me, "So it might be a bit of a hunt, although I'm sure it's there. Not many people are reaching for sociology." 

Which I think is crazy.

So she and I had a little book geeking out moment, her asking what got me interested in Blue Mind, which led to us talking about Thinking, Fast and Slow and also Gretchen Rubin. At the end of our encounter I felt as though I'd found a kindred soul. I might just go back for another conversation.

When I think about age objectively, I feel a little bit panicky, the way I do when I consider the size of the universe, for example. But subjectively, I have no problem turning 35, even calling myself middle aged omg I changed my mind. I'm not...middle aged yet? Am I? Well whatever I am, the point is, I don't mind, because I like my life.

When I was 15, or even 20, thinking about 35 would've been frightening, because soooo much time would have to pass to arrive there/here. But every year has been good. Certainly there are ups and downs in life—one of the most significant being witnessing the decline and death of my mother-in-law, Debbie—but I don't have regrets in my life. I don't miss my 20s, because I liked my 20s when I was in them, but I've also been on an upward swing since then. 

All this is to say, I'm glad to be alive, to be in my specific life, with my specific partner and my specific children. Lest I sound braggy, I'll just say this: I wasn't the one counting Weight Watchers points. The baby flab is still 100% here.

When I explained to Noah that at this moment, rather than give in to beating myself up about it, I'm going to be grateful to my body for bearing three children and also feeding them, and if she needs a little extra padding for now, so be it. That doesn't mean I'm not strong. To which he innocently replied, "Of course it doesn't mean you're not strong. I've seen a lot of firemen with bellies like that." I laughed and laughed, with my belly shaking like a bowlful of jelly.

Oliver is excited about starting kindergarten.

"Ethan," he said one day while my three sons were sitting together in the backseat while I drove, "I'm excited but also a little bit scared about kindergarten. But mostly excited." Ethan shared some words of wisdom about everyone being new, and I added that it's normal to feel that way.

If I was tempted to worry momentarily that I haven't force-fed him alphabet flashcards, all that was put to rest the other day while he was practicing writing letters. He exclaimed, "Wow, that was really good! Normally I'm not very skilled at Y." With a vocabulary like that, I think he'll do just fine.

Of course he still has his very young way of pronouncing words, which is adorable. The hard "d" sound and anything with "j" or "ch" comes out with the "sh" sound. Drink becomes shrink, jump becomes shump, etc. I'm sure that'll fade away, probably this year, which makes me a teensy bit sad, but not too sad, because I'll cherish the memories. Like I said, #noregrets.

Ethan, at age 10, has transitioned from the little kid phase, through the somewhat-annoying phase of age 7-9, and is settled into tween. He's even been dealing with early-stage puberty occurrences, which he doesn't seem embarrassed about in the least. I'm happy about that—we are not the kind of parents to introduce shame where none exists—but I'm reminded that the teen years will be a whole other ball game, one that's smelly and a little gross. 

He's also hilarious. His favorite comedians are Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan—clean comics, both, but when you hear a 10-year-old do Gaffigan's body wash bit ("Body wash...I'm gonna wash your body...in your sleep!") it's disconcerting. I've had to remind him that not everyone knows Gaffigan's full stand-up set, and Ethan's approaching an age where such a misunderstanding could land him in hot water. Perhaps I should give him a mic to carry around at all times.

Yesterday, my mom showed them a picture of a stunning lightning storm. Oliver said, "Wow that looks like fun," to which Ethan replied, "Yeah, if you're a crazy butthole." I'm still laughing to myself about that one, cry-laughing, really, though in the moment I reminded him not to be rude.

Speaking of rude, he came up with some acrostic poems.

O is for offensive

L is for loathsome

I is for incompetent

V is for vulgur

E is for Ethan's brother

R is for rude


E is for epic

T is for totally cool

H is for handsome

A is for awesome

N is for nocturnal


H is for handsome

A is for awesome

R is for rump is cute

R is for rump is cute

Y is for youthful


His poetry is informed strongly by Calvin & Hobbes. I also must say that Ethan's not mean to Oliver, they get along very well, but he's leaning heavily into sibling rivalry for his comedy.