The Johnsons Grow Up…a Little

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’.

7 thoughts on “The Johnsons Grow Up…a Little

  1. I think donating to such a worthy cause as increased literacy by supporting our local libraries is an admirable and completely mature 40-something thing to do.

  2. I’m making exactly the same kind of ‘get it together before you turn 40’ list. Mine also includes library fines. And not pulling clothes in the morning out of piles on chairs. And playing ‘Words with Friends’ endlessly. 40 year olds do not do any of those things, I’m convinced.

    P.S. I loved Glass Castle.

  3. I’m in big trouble. I thought 40 year olds no longer cared if their house was clean and anyway when you turn 40 your house magically stays clean. Please tell me thats not a myth or I will be heartbroken. Since the kids are going to be in school I was planning on playing cards with friends all day, writing my always-in-progress novel and laughing at my 30ish year old friends who haven’t hit easy street yet. So basically if I’m wrong about 40 not only will I turn grey I will also have to grow up? Please excuse me while I spend the day pouting and try not to judge me if I stamp my feet in frustration. I thought there was a light at the end of this tunnel….

  4. Kim, that’s exactly what I told myself when the professor produced a CD from underneath the driver’s seat…..many weeks past its due date. Vicky, I want to see what’s on your list! Missy (err, Melissa) if 30 is the new 40, maybe we don’t have to grow up until we’re 50. Alternatively, we’re going to get to 40 and realize it’s actually no different. Save the grayer hair and older children and potentially tidier home?! Ladies, I’m glad library fines is a universal problem not just chez Johnson.Kate (Katey) – Jason laughed at your comment ‘if only she knew’ or something like that. We’re but 3 bad decisions away from doing ‘the skedaddle’.


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