I’ve got a big birthday coming up at the end of summer…fifty…half a century…the golden anniversary of my birth…the point in my life when I just might have to begin behaving a tad more adult. I think I’m ready.
It could be just me, but these decade birthdays began taking on more significance as I aged and I can remember each of them vividly. At 20, I was on the verge of independence and living completely on my own for the first time. For my 30th birthday, I was married and thrilled to be pregnant with my first child. When I turned 40 I thought I had it all, only to realize that maybe it wasn’t enough. And now, as 50 approaches, I find myself excited to flip a page to a new chapter in my life despite not really knowing what may come next.
I’ve learned so many things during my years alive, yet I’m still not sure what the future holds for me. Is that lack of certainty, that acceptance that what happens tomorrow is eternally a mysterious surprise, a sign of growing up? Maybe.
What do I know now that I didn’t know 10 years ago?
- I know that I can outrun cancer and the fear of being alone.
- I know that I can juggle a lot and that, even though I now wear a nightguard because I seem to be grinding my teeth, I am more satisfied with a full life and schedule than with one that lacks challenge and stimulation.
- I know that there will be days that nearly overwhelm me with minutia and situations which demand immediate and close attention, but I’ve also learned that they pass.
- I know that I am utterly blessed to have three healthy children and a positive relationship with their father that is based upon our mutual focus on what is best for them.
- I know that the lines on my face and the grey in my hair are evidence of the length of my life and that I’m lucky to have both of them – and access to quality skincare products and a good colorist.
- I know that life is about give and take and trying to remain cognizant of the balance between the two.
- I know that I’m ready for what comes next.
I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’ – U2
My oldest child turned nineteen this weekend. I think the child that makes a man or a woman a parent is the child who is more closely observed, documented and measured than any additional children. As a family expands, it just isn’t possible to continue the almost obsessive attention that is paid to a first child. When there are two or three other humans demanding that their needs be fulfilled, things like growth charts become extraneous.
The literature suggests that first born children have a lot of pressure upon them to perform and I can concur on that. As far as my own child goes, he eventually internalized the demands he felt from his parents, teachers and early intervention providers. He now (self) imposes a timeline of expectations, and what he considers necessary progress, even more rigorous than the one promoted by the medical experts we felt so wed to when Liam was an infant and toddler and receiving services designed to help him catch up to his peers.
But, what if it isn’t really a race? What if we each reach the next step on our path in precisely the amount of time we’re supposed to? Maybe all those expected outcomes and definitions of normal are more generalizations than a reality for which to strive. From my vantage point of nearly fifty years old, it seems perfectly clear that life and how we experience it, is more individualized than something that can be easily plotted on a growth chart or measured in expectations and achievements.
As my son begins his last year as a teenager all I want for him is acceptance of who and where he is in life – his own acceptance, that is. I’d like for him to understand that it really doesn’t matter how many classes he takes or how quickly he progresses through college. It doesn’t make a difference if he is on par with his cohort; it’s his journey and no one else’s. Milestones may be indicative of progress but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to weigh a person down.
Yesterday my youngest son turned 11. I wish I could remember exactly what time of day he was born, but it’s honestly kind of a blur. I think that happens once you have more than two children, some of the specific details no longer stick. In complete honesty, I sometimes have to pause to recall if his birthday is the 5th or the 9th of February. I guess I’ll never win Mother of the Year, but I do think I have a shot at Mother of the Day based upon my efforts yesterday.
The morning started with the scent of chocolate chip/ M&M cookies baking. You know what? Everyone should wake up on their birthday to a warm kitchen and the smell of freshly baked cookies. Quinn had Nutella crepes for breakfast, his favorite and he loved the Gryffindor scarf I had bought for him. When he left the house for school, he kissed me goodbye and thanked me for a “wonderful” morning. Pretty sweet, right?
I went to Quinn’s school a short while later to join his class for a field trip to the Albany Institute of History and Art. I know that my chaperoning days are coming to a close and felt really fortunate that he wanted me to attend. We rode the bus together and I think I succeeded in providing my son with special attention while also giving him his space, a balancing act which becomes more challenging as a child grows. The exhibit was nicely done and the activities were active and hands on, perfect for a group of 5th graders. It was a nice day.
Our big plan for the evening was dinner out. Quinn has a thing for Korean barbeque and had been anticipating gorging on dumplings for days. We trucked up to Colonie, hungry and excited for a special meal, but were disappointed to see that the restaurant was closed. I had never even considered that possibility! We sat in the car laughing about our luck and I was incredibly impressed with Quinn’s ability to join in the mirth and indulge his brothers as they teased him about his misfortune. After a moment’s consideration, Quinn decided that Chinese would hit the spot and we turned around and headed towards Ocean Palace, placing our order as we took the long, leisurely drive back down Central Avenue.
Our indulgent order (Peking Duck, squid with salt and pepper, beef chow fun, 2 orders of steamed dumplings, Chinese broccoli with ginger sauce and sesame chicken) took about 45 minutes to prepare, leaving us with about 25 minutes to kill. That much time simply waiting can be deadly, but my sons were remarkably chill about the entire dinner fiasco. There wasn’t a moment of complaining or whining or kvetching and I was left feeling ridiculously proud of their good natured flexibility. My boys are growing up.
PS – Dinner, as always, was great. Happy Year of the Monkey, y’all!
Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, Eating, family, favorites, Food., Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized
On February 9th my youngest child turns 11. I seriously don’t know even know where the last decade went. We brought him home from the hospital one winter afternoon and here it is a lifetime later. In an ironic way, the baby who was supposed to be my baby has grown up faster than either of his brothers. Such is life – grab the moments while you can.
This February 9th, I’ll be accompanying my boy and his classmates on their field trip to the Albany Institute of History and Art. I figure there aren’t many field trips left and I’m excited to spend his birthday with him and the exhibit, The Capital Region in 50 Objects interests me. It’s embarrassing how infrequently I get to the institute and I’m very much looking forward to seeing 50 objects which define the city where I have lived for more than half of my life.
Looking through the list of objects included in the display, I noticed a few buildings represented. As you might imagine, the Empire State Plaza and State Capitol are on the list, along with the residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers. You see, buildings are important and can help to define a city.
My children and I have witnessed the construction of a number of significant buildings in our lives here in Albany. I recall the construction of the
Knickerbocker Arena Times Union Center and a number of other downtown buildings which have changed the landscape of our city. My children have benefited from the community investment made to improve libraries and both elementary and middle schools in our city and, as a parent, and taxpayer, I was pleased to support these initiatives. No longer do children in the city of Albany have to attend classes in buildings which are decrepit and lacking in modern amenities as was once the case.
This February 9th, we as a community again have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the city and its children with A Vision for Tomorrow. While none of my children will directly benefit from this ambitious undertaking, I will gladly accept the small (approximately $25) addition to my annual tax bill. It’s the right thing to do and will help to provide the best opportunity for our teens to succeed. If we can justify building an entire plaza to impress the Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands can’t we provide our own residents with a building for which they can feel pride? Maybe you could think of it as a birthday gift to Quinn?
Need more information? Check out one of these community forums and get yourself up to speed. Let’s not allow a decision this big to be decided by a small group of voters. Our kids deserve better.
When I see a reflection of myself, I don’t think I look how 49 sounds. In many ways I feel younger than ever, the result, I think of being happy and healthy and old enough to truly appreciate it.
“Nobody wants to get old but they don’t want to die young either.” – Keith Richards
I’ve had a wonderful year with many unforgettable moments. I’m in a good place professionally in a really positive place. My boys are gaining independence, venturing forth into college, work and on wheels.* I saw some fantastic concerts and a number of beautiful sunsets. There were moments when my life felt so perfect that I could have died with a contented sigh.
“I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.” – The Faces
When I’m 49, I plan to go to Nashville with my best friends and Spain and Portugal with my middle son. My brother and I will be restaurant owners. I’ll challenge myself with a half marathon and a schedule that will be intense, to say the least. There will be delicious meals and lovely wines and I’ll take pictures and write about all of it.
“Never slow down, never grow old.” – Tom Petty
Age, like weight and height, is a number. It’s up to each of us to decide the importance of it in our lives. I’d like to think that the total of my years is a pretty small figure when compared to the total number of moments I’ve shared with loved ones laughing, making memories and experiencing life. 49 is going to be fine.
*Quinn is obsessed with his bicycle and the freedom it affords him.
On a sunny day, not unlike some of the ones we’ve enjoyed this week, my water broke and labor began for my second child. Neither of these occurred with any haste – it was more a leak than a gush and the progress of my contractions was painfully (literally) slow. When my red-faced, bald-headed baby boy finally made his debut it was a new day and I was in awe – of both his perfection and the strength of my body. Birthing him was, most definitely, my proudest physical accomplishment.
Sixteen years later this child continues to amaze and exhaust me. I do, however, find myself worrying about him more than I do either of his brothers. His humor, intelligence and charm have provided him with wonderful life experiences. Unfortunately, though, his gifts have also given him the opportunity to avoid truly exerting himself. Ever. Everything has come so easily to this guy…it kind of scares me.
During my run yesterday I was thinking about him and life and challenges to be met and conquered. I thought about all the things I want him to know – about himself and life. Of course, being a teenager, he only ingests my motherly wisdom in small doses and on an as needed basis. Hopefully one day he will come to know all of the following…
- Nothing in life is more important than health and happiness.
- There is satisfaction in doing your best and working hard.
- You have been blessed with many talents.
- Be where you are.
- Don’t ever lose your sense of right and wrong.
- Responsibilities will make you a grownup far more than a driver’s permit.
- You can do anything.
- Take your time figuring out what you want to do career wise. There’s no rush.
- That being said, finding yourself is a self-sponsored trip.
- You may look like your father, but so much of your behavior mirrors my own. I get you.
- Travel and see as much of the world as you can.
- Be honest. In the long run, it’s easier. I promise.
- Keep carrying groceries for old women.
- Never stop giving good hugs.
- Going to concerts with you has been one of the best rewards of parenthood.
- You are loved.
- When he was born, my oldest son scared me. That changed.
- Now, I’m in awe of him.
- According to my sons, the plural of penis is penis. (The “s” is silent when it’s plural)
- Crazy > Creepy
- The Olde English was the perfect place to celebrate my Anglophile son’s birthday.
- Molly, our server, deserves a raise. She was terrific, as was my fish and chips.
- The skiing this weekend was wonderfully challenging.
- Ryan, the guy at Best Buy who set me up with my new phone, was a super representative.
- The woman who violently slammed my car with her hand in the parking lot at Crossgates Mall represented “ugly with anger” beautifully.
- It feels good when someone you’ve known for 20+ years tells you that you look happy.
- Troy really isn’t that far from Albany.
- The old fashioned at The Wine Bar and Bistro and the new fashioned at New World Bistro Bar are equally perfect.
- Applying for my son’s third passport in 18 years fills me with pride.
- 8 countries in 18 years is pretty damn impressive. I can’t wait to see where else my children venture.
- McGeary’s on a Saturday night was wonderfully diverse, a testament to Tess’ ability to create an atmosphere that is welcoming.
- Putting on a pretty dress and lipstick for an evening out doesn’t ever get tired.
- It has been a remarkable season for x-country skiing. That being said, I’m excited to hit the pavement in my sneakers soon.
- The seasons, the years, life go(es) by so very quickly. Get it while you can.
Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, family, Food, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants, skiing, Troy, Uncategorized, x-country skiing