For some reason I have it in my mind that the older you are, the more you should have your, um, act together. It’s as if, now that the professor and I are on the downward slide towards 40, I evaluate every decision, every behavior with the ‘you’re almost 40, get it together‘ lens.
To be sure, these last four years have been a harrowing jumble of crazy exhaustion and changing circumstances: adding one insomniac to our then-family-of-three; moving to Canadaland, adding another insomniac to our then-family-of-four, jumping on the K-12 treadmill, et-ce-te-ra.
But this year I feel a duty to emerge from the tiny-child-induced-sleepless-fog to become contributing members of society. After all, we’re almost 40.
The funny thing is, I have no idea what it is I expect 40 year olds to do; what 40-year-old maturity should look like. I just have ideas about what it doesn’t look like.
For starters, people in the fortysomething age bracket don’t have insanely messy houses; homes that look like post-tornado-footage from the nightly news. They don’t drink Rockstar and pull all-nighters to get work done, and certainly not two or three consecutive all-nighters. And they certainly don’t send emails like this to the preschool registrar:
‘This is embarrassing, but I can’t find my chequebook. Could you tell me how much preschool costs. And when do you cash the (monthly, postdated) cheques (I gave you three months ago)?’
As I wrote the email, I couldn’t help but think fortysomethings do not ‘misplace’ their checkbooks. They do not ask (after preschool started) how much it actually costs. And they do not feel so guilty about their lack of organization that they conclude said email (to a virtual stranger) with a vow to begin a spreadsheet. A bad student trying to appease a stern teacher.
In Bridget Jones terms, ‘that was it. Right there. Right there, that was the moment. I suddenly realised that unless something changed soon I was going to live a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine… and I’d finally die, fat and alone, and be found three weeks later half-eaten by alsatians.’
Okay, my aha moment had nothing to do with consuming too much wine or dying alone, but, (as I like to say), seriously.
It didn’t help that I’d just finished reading The Glass Castle and found myself wondering-worrying if we were but a [cleaner-living] version of the Wells’.
So I made a spreadsheet. I found my checkbook (chequebook – whatever). I looked at my bank account. And I began sending the professor charming emails like ‘did you spend $7.08 at Korean BBQ?!?!’
I spent an entire Saturday cleaning the house. Meaning, the professor left at 8.30am to teach a workshop and when he came home at 5pm, I was wearing the same tank top and shorts I’d slept in because I’d done nothing but laundry, vacuum, scrub and mop.
After I cleaned, I made signs. Yes, signs. I decided the boys could presort their laundry so I could just throw a load in the washer without having to empty entire baskets and sort the contents first.
Thus, I made a sign for ‘cold loads’ [pajamas, pants] and a sign for ‘warm loads’ [shirts, socks, underwear] complete with a caveman-esque illustrations for the illiterati amongst us.
A few days later, I made another sign for the front door, having grown weary of the boys’ habit of dumping backpacks and shoes on the floor.
I even made a sign for their bedroom, figuring they could surely straighten their blankets and find a hiding spot for their pajamas. Oh, and turn off the light-that-is-always-on.
It has [only] been seven days since we made the switch (though it feels like seven years), but I have to say the house has never looked better. Though we still managed to pay the EnMax bill…twice. (Better than not at all, though!)
Next item on the agenda: library fines.
Because people in their forties don’t ‘donate’ copious amounts of money to the public library in the form of late fees.
And, speaking of library fines, I happened to check out the new Priscilla Ahn CD from the library. It’s aptly-titled ‘When You Grow Up’.