Let’s hope I don’t mix these things up.
After all, “baby boomer” means something else entirely to a household with a newborn. New moms don’t want hormone replacement, they want hormone evacuation. (Speaking of which, constipation clearly is a topic for all ages. Oh, sorry. TMI?)
It’s an interesting way to spend a morning, looking at these very different milestones in a life: babyhood, motherhood, and the rather fuzzy, intangible time we call “middle age.” I turned 40 last month, and I’ve got my hands in all three (ah, THERE’s the extra hand I’ve been looking for. And it’s already full). I’m raising a toddler, still learning to be a mom to my older kids, and ever so slowly coming to terms with the fact that I’ve crossed into the territory of mammograms and pre-menopause.
It makes me feel all Lion King-y inside, this time of clarity when I can see so many points on the circle of life in high definition. Add one more: My own mother, who had me late in life, the last of eight kids. She’s into her 80s now and is adjusting to assisted living. Our family home is on the market. I’ve thought about going over there to see what it looks like emptied out. But it’s too weird to think about, and I probably will never do it. I would rather not look around the bare walls and windows of my old bedroom, which was converted into my parents’ computer room anyway 20 years ago. It wouldn’t look right devoid of the vanity with the big round mirror against the west wall, a piece that belonged to my maternal grandmother and became mine in high school. The vanity stayed with the room all these years, until this past July, when my siblings and I had a silent auction among ourselves to buy the items we wanted and take them home to be used by our own families.
The blond vanity is now in my bedroom, with the matching bench covered in a tapestry material that my mom was fond of in the late ’80s. I think she made me a vest out of the same bolt, on the same sewing machine that now sits on the floor next to the vanity until I can clear a space for it somewhere else. I can’t use the thing, but my husband can, and did, one night this week, repairing a seam in our daughter’s school jumper. She’s starting kindergarten, and I bought her uniforms used, knowing we had the tools now to repair those minor flaws. (I can’t help but be frugal–I was raised with seven siblings by parents who remember the Depression.)
For my big girl’s first day of school, I laid out her clothes the night before, bright white polo shirt and plaid pinafore, on the vanity bench so she could get dressed in my room and let her baby sister sleep in theirs. (Catholic schools start early.) Once she was dressed, I turned the bench lengthwise so I could sit behind her and comb out the curly hair she inherited from me, and from her grandma, while we both watched in the mirror. Her eyes were bright with anticipation and uncertainty, and for once she so preoccupied that she didn’t fuss when I yanked a snag in her curls.
We finished up and took one last look together. Gorgeous. She was ready to round her next curve on the circle. I think I am, too.