Monday, April 8, 2013

Shock and Awe

Did a thought ever hit you out of the blue, so profound, that it gave you the sense of a physical impact?

This happened to me this morning when I conscientiously thought about my next birthday. Not so much the actual birthdate, actually I was happy to realize my birthday will be on a Friday this year, but the semi-milestone age I will turn upon that Friday eleven weeks from now.

I was on my way to work, rushing up Park Avenue to a 9 AM staff meeting that would eventually be cancelled due to half the team calling out sick today (Sunny, 70 degrees - Farenheight - why didn't I think of feeling sick today? Oh, right, because I don't have any sick days left for this calendar year!).

Pretty typical commute to work today: drop-off congestion at Day Care, hustling around the Seventh Borough Dog Walkers as the two-legged walkers and the four-legged canines form a pack and block entire sidewalks while en route to the train station for the 8:02 to Grand Central. A 'large light' from Francisco's Coffee wagon at 51st and Park. Sunshine and Taxicabs and a thousand people zipping around to get the week started.

Meanwhile, as I'm walking to the office, I'm running one of many 'To Do' lists through my head, this one was work related. I knew that this one particular item on my mental list would take a little effort, so I gave myself a mini pep talk (inside voice, of course) and this speech ended with "'re a grown woman, you can do it".

Grown woman? Me, an adult? Really?

I stopped short on the sidewalk, near, but not at the curb, with the force of someone who realizes they are just about to be squished by a taxicab/delivery truck/guy on a bike/the occasional mid-town rickshaw drivers that seem to entice tourists/a fire truck-ambulance-cop car combination. (Yes, New York, once home to the Concorde, only God knows why you have brought the rickshaw into the twenty first century). I stopped so quickly, all my momentum kept going forward, and my large light almost flew across 52nd Street. (I said almost, you know it takes a lot to separate me from my coffee).

Grown woman? Me, on the cusp of 35, that's like the age of grown-ups. Whoa. That's serious.

As it stands, I already do many grown up things. Yesterday I made home-made soup (does anyone else's black bean soup turn everything purple?) with my immersion blender which I received as a Christmas gift - yes, I requested an appliance for Christmas. Yesterday I also did many loads of laundry (I may be requesting a washing machine for Christmas next - and/or a better mop - if this machine is truly leaking - yikes!). I filed my taxes (I curse the government) - just send money, I'm more than half-way through paying off my Master's Degree (just send money), my professional license has already come up for its renewal cycle (just send money, and attest that you're not a felon), the bill for our February hospital stay came it (just send money, it's ok if you're a felon, they can't turn you away in a medical emergency), and as I gaze out into our *hopefully* soon-to-be-enjoyed back yard, and analyze the patchiness of the grass, I think the lawn guys will be starting their business shortly (just send money, they employ felons!- well I hope not.)

Getting 'excited' over appliances, stressing over bills and dead grass, this is the edge-of-your-seat excitement that I live every day. Are these the hallmarks of being an adult? If so, turning 35 should warrant no stress, for I've already arrived.

(Sometimes I think back to Rob's 35th birthday party and it makes me laugh.  A trip to Benihana's while in the everything-makes-me-want-to-vomit stage of my pregnancy. It doesn't matter how entertaining the hibachi guys can get with onion rings, shrimp tails and a spatula, I noticed everything with my bionic, first-trimester-pregnancy sense of smell. I gripped my chopsticks tightly and prayed to that smiling, Good-Luck-In-Business cat statue that I not yak all over everyone so that I could come back here some day without embarrassment, and it worked.)

Yesterday I was making my black (purple?) bean soup and my little ‘helper’ was scooting around the kitchen and managed to pull the cookie cutters out of the cabinet; he was getting great enjoyment scattering them all over the floor.  Since I never make cookies, and the ‘cutters’ are plastic, I wasn’t worried.  Then he climbed over to the stove, pulled himself up and reached for the gas knobs.  Sh*t, I thought, we have a problem.  I guided him away from the stove and told him that only mommy and any celebrity chef that graces our kitchen could touch the stove (Daddy’s more of a toaster oven or grill kind of guy).  He went back to his cookie shapes on the floor.  A few days prior we had an incident involving crayons and the radiator (we have those old, cabinet-sized radiators in each room, each with its own aluminum cover painted white).  I kept Nick from coloring the radiator cover.  But something was pulling at my gut – my little baby has grown into a little Mr. Independent toddler and it’s no longer about just kisses and clean diapers, it’s about guidance and enforcement.

Baby grows into toddler.  Mommy becomes/realizes she already is an adult.  What’s going on here?       

Maybe at some level, I don’t really feel like much of a grown up because I’ve reverted to Sesame Street and playing with blocks and I spend a lot of time hanging out with a 14 month-old little boy who is curiously obsessed with the Velcro on his sneakers.   

I think paying bills and reviving (or having the felons replace) dead grass is not really so much of an issue.  But what I find really scary is the ever-moving frontier of motherhood, or the what is the child up to now feeling?  It’s a little unnerving to arrive at an ‘adult’ age and realizing you know a lot less than you thought you did, and when it comes to the baby rearing, you barely know anything at all.  It’s like a daily test of your own character, and every stimulant is a chance for exploration or censorship, beyond the obvious, like sharp objects and gas ovens. Yes, we can scribble on the coloring book, no, we don’t eat crayons.     

I’m relying on a vigilance and an intuition I would not typically use before little man came on to the scene, nor perhaps a vigilance and an intuition I even knew I had.  I started this blog telling you all that I was an objective, numbers junkie, and I was ok with that.  This baby has given me a not only a new perspective on the world (mamma bear defends baby cub – especially from rickshaws and felons) but also a new perspective on myself (mamma bear is more capable than she thinks).

The young keep us young.  Nick has done a good job keeping this grown-up young.  He’s also done wonders with his ancient Grandma!