I recently celebrated a non-milestone birthday, but it felt like sort of a milestone, just the same. I’m checking off a new box, the 35-40 box. Actually, just the other day, I had to check off the 35-54 box, so I’m lumped in with quite a crowd now.
So here’s the thing. I’m 35, only I really don’t feel much different than I did at 25. I mean, I was JUST 25. Heck, I was just 18! It wasn’t that long ago, really. And in my head, I look just like I did in college, only now I look in the mirror, and…where did those LINES come from? All of a sudden, I have these little crinkly things around my eyes, and now I have to buy things like serum and worry about anti-aging lotions and alpha hydroxy and whatnot.
And then Shape magazine informs me that I am not allowed to wear powder, EVER, now that I am 35, and I should also shelf the shimmery eye shadow, because both are going to make me look all pinched and aged.
Look, I know 35 doesn’t qualify me for AARP or anything, but it is firmly established adulthood, is it not? Which means I should have a clue what I’m doing. Only I have no idea. I’m raising these three kids, and I’m totally winging it half the time, and that’s the truth. I’m supposed to be all poised and self-confident and sexy now that I’m smack in the middle of my 30s–that’s what the magazines tell me–but there are plenty of times I still feel like the awkward kid who wore a belt with her new Guess overalls and everyone at school laughed.
Maybe I’ll have it figured out by 40.
The kids want a new kitten. Our two cats are old, they say, and they’re no fun.
This is true. The cats ARE old. One is 14, the other is 8 or something. I don’t know, I don’t keep track of how old she is because she quit using her litter box in favor of my rug for a while, and it has embittered me toward her. Also, she hides in the baby’s room and waits to start meowing until after he is asleep. But when I open the door to let her out, she–this is the best–runs and hides under the crib. You see why we’re not on good terms.
So they’re old, and they really aren’t much fun. They lie around and sleep and will sometimes bat at a string if a kid shakes it right in front of their faces, but only for a minute or two. And then they go back to sleep. A kitten would be SO MUCH MORE FUN, the kids tell me, but they are crazy with that kind of talk because it ain’t gonna happen.
To appease them, I took two of them to a local cat shelter the other day to visit with the kitties. My 4-year-old daughter was thrilled to discover several kittens at the shelter. The cat lady volunteer, however, was not so thrilled to see my kids. She watched them like a hawk, every once in a while calling out something like, “Jinx doesn’t like to play with that toy, dear!” or “Ripples is sleeping now, so he probably doesn’t want any pats.” Or, “Let’s not bother the kitties while they’re lying down!” (I’m not kidding. She said that.)
And look, it’s not like I was just kicked back in a recliner while I let my kids run wild through a cat shelter. I was on top of them; I made sure they didn’t do anything inappropriate or even try to pick up the animals. (But really? The 4-year-old can’t hold the kitten?) At one point, my 4-year-old remarked on one of the kittens, “Wow! That kitten sure is wild!” To which the volunteer cat lady quickly responded, “She’s NOT wild. She’s just playing. There is a difference.” Like, DON’T INSULT THE KITTEN.
So we left the cat shelter. We’ll go back when the regular cat lady volunteer is there, the nice one. She lets us hold the kittens.
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at email@example.com.)