In about 3 hours, I will turn 55 years old. That’s old enough for AARP to send me discounts. It’s older than my mother was when I was living in New York City for those 20 years. I don’t want to say it’s “OLD” but the number feels old to me. Although I don’t feel old. I keep looking at those numbers and thinking there’s got to be a mistake. Aren’t I 35? Or at the most 45? But here I am, about to turn 55, my Mom turns 80 at the end of this month, and my son turns 5 in March. How did my life end up here? It was a long long circular route, that’s for sure. I started writing this blog when I was pregnant about 5 1/2 years ago, sitting up with leg cramps, rocking myself in the nursing chair in Huck’s room while he wiggled around inside of me. I never expected everything that happened after. I never expected to be so in love being a Mom that I was kicking my younger self for not starting earlier, as if I could have, I’d have a big family. I never expected to be as happy as I was. I never expected to miss the sleepless nights as my son toddled into toddlerhood. I never expected to be so sad when the Carter’s pj onesie that we had bought him at every single size change was discontinued and the last one he had was the 1 year old ones (I cut out a piece of the cloth and its in his baby book). I never expected to be so in love with having a family. On the other hand, I never expected to get post partum as Huck was weaning and have to get on antidepressants and mood stabilizers. I never expected my father to die of Pancreatic Cancer in four months when Huck was just over a year. I never expected to have my own trauma breakdown which made me rage so much that I lost my marriage. I never expected to go away to treat the trauma and depression and to discover where it all came from. I never expected to leave our house that night and never spend another night there. I never expected to be separated when Huck was 2 and divorced by the time he was 4. I never thought I’d ever get up off the floor and be happy again. I never thought I’d lose the things that made me the happiest. I never thought I’d live alone again. I never thought I’d be ok living alone again. I never thought I’d own my own house. I never thought I’d get up off the ground and try to learn to walk again. I never thought of any of these things. But life is life on life’s terms and you just have to accept what you get, accept that you can’t change anyone else but yourself and your response to someone else. When to fight for what you believe in. When to step out of the way of someone else’s path. I’ve learned all this in the almost-5 years since Huck came into my life. I mean, the most “I didn’t expect” is the I NEVER expected to be a mother. Ever. And if Huck is the gift of all of this, I’d do it over and over and over again. I’m waiting for the silver lining, but while I wait, I’m just one-foot-in-front-of-the-other’ing the days. I’m working and singing and writing and going to Grad School for poetry and teaching and reading and singing “Moon River” with Huck. I have these moments of grace where I am exuberantly grateful for the path I’ve been given, as rocky as the road has been. Great sorrow. Inspiration. Art. A life fully lived. I didn’t expect to be here at age 55. And here I am. Grey hair peeking out under the blonde, my eyebrows are turning blonde-grey, there are more age spots than before. And it’s all ok. I look in the mirror and see beauty where, in my 20s, I saw flaws. I’m not on this earth to impress anyone, Thank God, because I’d fail at that one. I have a calling, but I don’t have a mission. I’m just doing the next right thing. Every day.

Yesterday, while lying in bed, I noticed a stain on the ceiling that I hadn’t seen before. I went to the attic to find my hot water heater was leaking. You know the rest of the story: $3000 later, I have a new hot water heater. I’m proud that I didn’t call any of my guy friends to help me. I wanted to. I’ve got a friend in the house building world who has rescued me time and time again with house stuff. But I didn’t call. I just called a plumber and felt secretly proud of myself for having an ’emergency house slush fund’. I’m adulting. You’d think, at 55, I’d have figured this out now, but inside, I’m literally just a little girl who’s afraid of being abandoned and rejected. I have to fight for the wheel with her. Sometimes she wins and I sleep all day. Sometimes I win and I call the damn plumber.

So today, at the grocery store, I walked by the canned things aisle. I’m a food snob. Huck’s father used to make fun of me because I insisted on no sugar natural peanut butter and he’d just ignore me and buy Jiff. My mother didn’t allow sugar foods in our home, no soda, natural peanut butter, wheat pasta. My brother has severe ADD and we limited sugar in the foods. At the time I hated it as I longed for nothing else but Sugar Corn Pops and all we had was plain Cheerios. But as a grown up in NYC, I began eating more greens, organic foods, became a bit more discerning. Yet, I get it, married to a Tennessean, who grew up on all that rich cheesy yummy stuff (and believe me, nobody likes a corn casserole biscuits with molasses and barbecue more than I do), I can see where my insistence on organic milk may have felt like a dis. So we didn’t really agree on a lot of that stuff. Huck’s first peanut butter was Jiff. He’s fine. I could have lightened up a bit.

Back to today and the canned food aisle. I was buying Italian Green Beans, because I love canned Italian Green Beans. And there it was. The Chef Boyardee shelf. Spaghettios. Ravioli. Spaghetti with meatballs. All in a can. When Mom got tired of the Food Co-Op, we went back to normal American eating, minus the sugar cereal and soda pop. And I LOVED Chef Boyardee Ravioli. And I’d forgotten that I loved it. Until tonight, there I was, thinking, “do I really have the energy to make salmon and broccoli and rice for me and Huck, or can I just throw on the stove a pot of CBR and call it a win?” Well. I did. I ate something different (pasta and a salad) but Huck LOVED the ravioli. And I’m not ashamed. I also have Oreos in the house and lollypops and gummy worms to bribe him. Not ashamed. I buy microwave meals (albeit healthy ones, like the Butter Chicken and Naan and the Kale bake) because you know, I live alone and it’s a pain to cook for one, and hard to gauge portions. I throw a lot of food out and that’s not cool.

So. On the verge of 55, I fed my kid Chef Boyardee. With grey streaks in my hair, a bit of loneliness in my heart, but a huge amount of gratitude because when I finish writing this, I will crawl into my bed and he will have snuck out of his own into mine and I’ll fall asleep next to my one true love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s