©2018 by Renee Casteel Cook. Proudly created with Wix.com

This Is 35

(original date June 2018)

 

I turned thirty-five in November of 2017. A well educated, married, homeowner and somewhat recent new mom, I didn’t wake up feeling different that day, nor did I make big plans for this new ‘milestone’ year. But as the past 6 months unfolded, I surprised myself at how much I’ve learned, and how many times I’ve said, whether jokingly, out of frustration, or just downright confused, “this is 35.”

 

My list of “this is 35” moments are the kind of moments that the wiser, older people in your life tell you that you’re going to miss. And as hard as it may feel sometimes, THESE are the moments to cherish. These are the nights, the days, the times, where you look at your kids, you look at your spouse, you look around at your disheveled home, and maybe you look up, and you realize, this IS what it’s all about.  

So here’s a (not so brief) rundown, compiled over the first half of this enlightening year, of those moments.  Whether you’re right here in the middle with me, looking back a decade or two, or still in the bliss of youthful naivety, I hope it offers you friendly commiseration, a smirking smile of remembrance, a bit of a reality check, or, best case, all three.

 

 

“This is 35”

Prompt #1

  • When you find yourself cleaning up at least one unexpected mess per day, whether it’s a “critically important” fire drill at work, a random malfunction of some household object or a pile of crayons and cheerios (both soaked in milk long enough to become one, and texturally make it difficult not to gag as you race them to the garbage can in an attempt to avoid drippage).

Prompt #2

  • When a night without your spouse means you go to bed the second the kids are all asleep.

Prompt #3

  • When your version of “me time” is an hour alone at the grocery store, gym or church (and you don’t have to sit in the “quiet room”).

  • When you do schlep the whole family to church and the phrase “peace be with you” means a whole lot more to fellow parents in that “quiet room.”

Prompt #4

  • When the full circle phenomenon of life hits you on the head as you watch your toddler and your elderly relative seemingly comprehend one another, even though no one else can understand either of them.

Prompt #5

  • When you realize the relief you used to feel after a negative pregnancy test is now instead disappointment.

  • When watching your toddler play with baby toys and remark about how the neighbor kid is “so cute” makes your ovaries hurt, in a way that sends you straight to Target to buy an ovulation kit (the digital kind, because, well, one of your best friends said it worked for them).

  • When said toddler demands “big kid underpants” instead of a pullup only to pee through a third outfit on the day and you question opening the ovulation kit box because, really, do you want to do this all again?!?

Prompt #6

  • When you’ve had the kind of week that causes you to block off time on your own calendar for Friday at 5pm titled “Drinks” with no plans or even concern for location, type or whether or not there’s company.

  • When your spouse is having the above kind of week and at least adds you to the invite (even better if they schedule a babysitter and plan one of those famed “date nights” – seriously, we’ve been together for 15 years, and I’m relieved not to be dating, can we just call it what it is – a temporary escape from the responsibilities that come with work, parenting and just generally being 35? But yeah, call it whatever you want, just pour me another).

  • When said “date night” is just as appealing at a fancy restaurant, dive bar or your living room just as long as someone else has the kids through your morning hang over (so, like, 10am pretty please grandma?).

  • When the majority of above “date night” consists of making actual pro/con lists to compare 3 year old preschools (2 days a week vs 3 days a week? Walk in vs drop off line?? Shared vs bring your own snack??? the internal debate is deafening) and loving (ie renovating) or listing (ie moving) your current house (because really, it’s a lose – lose).

Prompt #7​

  • When vacations are nothing of the sort, and you’ve officially renamed them trips (see, Family Trip, bonus points if it’s to DISNEY, oh and if you were silly enough to spill the beans about said trip any earlier than the day before leaving well, haven’t you learned from your friends how excruciating the weeks/months of “are we going to DISNEY yet?” can be?).

Prompt #8​

  • When your toddler plops into the grass to do “grass angels” then looks up and finds a sliver of a new moon and immediately says, “but how do I get to it?” and decides to march inside and find last Halloween’s astronaut costume, promptly returning outside to deem you an alien and question how you got to this planet called, “what again,” “oh yeah, Earth, where I live.”

  • When you look up yourself, realize you don’t know how to explain the moon, nor Earth, nor even really how that toddler got here (at least not yet), but that this is it, this is 35 and this IS what it’s all about.

Half way through my 35th year, I’m feeling  that as good as those memories of 25 seem, and as appealing as the idea of freedom (ahem, 55) might be, 35 isn’t so bad, in fact it’s pretty damn good.

Ready to share your story?  Pick any theme (or just start writing and let us figure out where it fits), decide if you want to keep real names or not, and type away. 

 

Don't fancy yourself an author?  No worries, just email me at reneecasteelcook@hotmail.com to set up an interview and I'll do all the writing for you!