How many years are there?

The other morning my newly-turned-five-year-old and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos while the other half of our family went on a bike ride.

Savvy was singing the Days of the Week song, which is where you just start with Sunday and sing the days of the week to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Try it, it’s catchy.

Savvy: “I know how many days there are. Seven.”

Me: “That’s right!”

Savvy: “And ten months.”

Me: “Twelve.”

Savvy: “How many years?”

Me: “How many years in what?”

Savvy: “How many years are there?”

This stopped me, mid-chip. It’s such a logical follow up question for a child to ask, I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it before. It gave me a pang in my stomach as I answered, “no one really knows.”

She accepted that answer and we seem to be moving on, but I can’t stop thinking about it. How many years are there? People say “live each day like it’s your last” but to me this sounds as good as getting kicked in the gut everyday. Like, don’t put that kind of pressure on me, you kitschy Hobby Lobby farmhouse wall sign.

Life expectancy wise, I should still have over 50% left of my years to live, but I’ve never really been one to think into the future long term. I suppose that’s what allows me to live in the moment, especially because I’m someone who often finds myself looking back. I constantly tell my children, “don’t wish the time away.” I’m sentimental, nostalgic, and there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than sit with old friends talking about things that happened years and years ago. Many people find this tedious, but to me it’s comforting. There are things that will just always be funny to me, and retelling those incidents and inside jokes makes me laugh all over again, cementing them into the narrative of my life.

I recently watched the Nora Ephron documentary “Everything Is Copy” in which she says one of my favorite lines about life and death:

“It’s very important to eat your last meal before it actually comes up. When you are actually going to have your last meal, you either will be too sick to have it, or you aren’t gonna know it’s your last meal and you could squander it on something like a tuna melt.” – Nora Ephron

In the same way that my stories help explain who I am, I have always turned to songs to explain how I feel. I often play songs from my childhood for my own children. Some they love (Britney) and some they don’t (Tom Petty). But last week they heard the song Seasons of Love from Rent for the first time and they asked me to play it over and over again.

Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question.

How do you measure a year? How about love.

Seasons of Love

Actual Things: It’s the 90s

Mommy and Savvy Plaza Swan
Savvy (4) just came running upstairs from the playroom and said breathlessly: Mom! I have bad news. You know that Barbie from when you were a kid? We found her body.
Me *after taking a beat for dramatic emphasis: So you just burst into my office like this and blurt out that you found her body? No Kleenex? What if I had started hysterically crying from shock and grief?
Savvy *unfazed: Well are you mad?
Me *feigning reluctance: Well I don’t know…is there even a search underway?
Savvy *chewing gum: For the head?
Me: Her head.
Savvy *with the indifference of a DMV employee: Yeah, we can look. If we don’t find it we can put the old Ken doll head on her.
Me *resigned: I guess anything goes. It’s the 90s.
Savvy: Yeah, it’s the 90s.
 
She repeated “it’s the 90s” in solemn agreement, as if I had just said a universal thing people say like, “well that’s life.” Then she gave me a stern little nod, the way men acknowledge one another at the funeral of an elderly distant relative, and scampered off, leaving me mostly amused but slightly unsettled.
Now I’m wondering if she’s going to be on a date someday and the waiter will say,
“I’m sorry, Miss, but we’re out of the halibut, may I suggest the salmon?”
And she’ll shrug and say, “Sure, it’s the 90s.”
And her date will be like, “Wait, what?”
Her: “Y’know, it’s the 90s. Like, it’s whatever.”
Him: “That’s not a thing.”
For the record, “Hey, it’s the 90s” is a quote from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire which was released in the actual 1990s, and I do use it indiscriminately because I think it’s funny. But she doesn’t know that.
Oh well. When in Rome.

Don’t Leave A Message

This is going to be a short post. The reason I say so is less to set your expectations, and more as a note to myself because I have a lot to do.*

(*Post-post edit: Narrator’s voice: It was not going to be short.)

I went for a bike ride the other morning and as I was careening down a hill covered by a canopy of trees, listening to Dashboard Confessional (Hands Down) I had this really intense euphoria of the universe telling me, “You have literally no idea what is going to happen to you! Isn’t that so exciting???” And I instinctively didn’t trust my own thoughts, because usually the future is a mental montage of my own poorly-reenacted life story that begins with a narrator sternly saying, “She always carried an uneasy suspicion she would someday be murdered, but she never imagined it would be by someone so close to her…” Continue reading

Missed Connections: The Extreme Version

I just stumbled across this gem and it sparked a memory.

The year was 2007. I was browsing the frozen foods section at the Sunfresh market in Westport around ten o’clock on a week night. In those days that was the only time I had to shop, since I worked for a political consulting firm that took up roughly one thousand percent of my time and energy. I remember looking at my now-husband’s job and thinking, wow, the sweet life. Mind you, he was busting his ass building a law career so he could someday be a partner, which has come full circle because now he is. He has an amazing, humble, rock-solid work ethic and serves as a daily example to both me and our daughters of how to set goals that challenge you, be a good person, and work like hell to bring your dream to fruition because no one is going to hand it to you. Blah blah blah, back to me. At the time, I thought it was perfectly normal to work on holidays and weekends and compulsively gaze at your Blackberry as if it were the last working oxygen mask on a disturbingly turbulent flight. (Kids, a “Blackberry” is a turn-of-the-century torture device used on young professionals in the early 2000s. Fun fact, the stress of having a Blackberry has been linked to the gene mutation that causes bosses of millennials to be so mean to them. See: survival mode.) Continue reading

Lessons In Broken Toys: Just Go With It.

Today we came home from school to discover that Savannah’s (weird, trashy, but favorite) My Little Pony “Barbie” had been severely mauled by Mr. Biffles. Savannah was understandably horrified. (Bif lacked any signs of remorse.)

Hearing Savvy’s cries of shock and grief, Avery and I made quick work of a rescue mission. Avery got the silver duct tape while I performed CPR. I patched up the arms and leg while Avery applied the defibrillator (a Shopkin), as Savvy hesitantly looked on. Soon the doll was stabilized and the wailing subsided. Avery declared the doll “still beautiful.” I offered that her name could be “Ilene,” as she was now missing one foot. Savvy was unpersuaded. Continue reading

The Hootie Diaries: A #MomFail

My daughter’s preschool periodically sends home the class owl named “Hootie.” He comes with a notebook and instructions to please add photos and a journal entry about all of the fun he has with your family. Since my daughter is 4 and cannot read, write, or pick up pictures from Walgreens, Hootie, while a fun concept, is largely just a homework assignment for me and pressure to look like we are “having fun” and “doing things.”

The first time Savannah brought Hootie home, we lost him. For like a week. I eventually found him hidden under the couch with several dog toys. I was just grateful that he still had eyes. Most of Hootie’s journal entries are lovingly crafted recaps of family leisure time with pictures of smiling children taking Hootie to church or posing with a fishing pole at their grandpa’s pond. ‘Here we are sharing an organic banana milkshake after a long day of helping the homeless!’

Savannah ended up with this:

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Sunshine and Gray Skies: How I Explained Anxiety To My Kid

Anxiety Starter Pack

Congratulations, you’ve been born with a predisposition to Anxiety!

I’m not an expert at anything except my life, which is what I write about here. (This is a disclaimer.)

I’ve long been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder and was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago. As my mother likes to say, I come by it naturally, which just means a ton of my family has their own beautiful shade of “the crazies.”

Continue reading