the big 4-0

This past Saturday, I turned 40. I don’t typically make a big fuss about my birthday, but it’s one of those milestone ages that felt fairly significant. And for whatever reason, I just felt really sad about it. The rational part of my brain knew I was being silly: aging is part of life, right? This is how it goes. Either I turn 40 or I drop dead at 39, and the latter didn’t sound like a good option. But still, there was part of me that felt sad in a “damn, I feel old and this sucks” way.

A decade is a really long time, but still, I was thinking about how much my life changed during my 30s, and it sort of shocked me. When I turned 30, I had only been married a few months, I had no kids, and I was still living in Seattle. I’m pretty sure that if you told me that by the time I turned 40, I’d be divorced, have two daughters, be in a different-but-ultimately-much-happier relationship, live in North Carolina, with my parents less than 2 miles away (and that this wouldn’t make me insane, but that I’d actually be incredibly happy and grateful to have them so close), and that I’d own a dog, I’d have thought you were nuts. When Chris and I were talking about it and I was listing all of the things that are different now, I could only think of two things my life at 30 has in common with my life at 40: I still have Beaumont (but he wasn’t even my cat back then! He was Dave’s cat, and I just happened to retain custody of him after the divorce), and I still have the Subaru I bought when I was 25.

Speaking of my Subaru! I didn’t have the kids over the weekend, so for my birthday celebration, Chris and I went to test drive cars. Random, I know. But Chris’s Nissan is basically dead (it’s 16 years old and has over 300K miles; it needs repairs that cost double what the car is worth), and I’ve been wanting a bigger car with third row seating for a long time now. Since I’m in a better position to take on a car payment than he is, we decided that he’ll pay me the trade-in value for my Subaru (which is not a lot – Subarus are great and it still runs like a champ, but it’s a pretty old car), I’ll sign the title over to him, and then I’ll get a new car.

Test driving cars was a pretty fun way to spend the day, and it distracted me out of my little “black cloud” mood. Afterward, we went out for dinner at one of my favorite Italian places. Chris came up with the idea that instead of having cake, we could drive to downtown Raleigh to get fresh Krispy Kreme donuts for my birthday, which sounded awesome to me. We got extra for my parents, to thank them for dog-sitting Roxie all day while we were out. (My dad is pretty much in love with Roxie, so he doesn’t seem to mind when I ask him keep her.) On the drive back, Dave texted that the girls were upset about not seeing me on my birthday, so we did a quick FaceTime chat, which was really sweet.

On Monday, I got the girls back, so we went to my parents’ house, and did the actual cake and “happy birthday” song and all of that. And Chris gave me tulips, because he’s good at that kind of thing.

I didn't have the girls this weekend on my actual birthday, so we did cake tonight at my parents' house.

And now, a few days into this whole 40 thing, I feel ok about it. I mean, I’m not thrilled about the prospect of getting old, but I did a whole hell of a lot in my 30s. I’m kind of interested to see what the next decade has in store for me.

New Year’s meme for 2015

Because at this point it’s a tradition: time for another annual recap.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
* We got a dog!
* I hosted both girls’ birthday parties at our house, and realized it’s not as daunting a task as I thought it would be.
* I took the girls on a plane trip by myself.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I do have a goal this year: to not have a complete meltdown about turning 40 later this month.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lots of my Twitter friends had babies. No one in my family or immediate circle of friends, though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
We never left the U.S., but we took trips all over North Carolina (Charlotte, the beach, etc.), we went to Atlanta for my cousin’s wedding, and we flew to Austin to visit my sister and brother-in-law.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
My answer last year still applies: Less clutter in my life. The physical clutter is an ongoing process – I’ve been cleaning things out gradually for a while: had a yard sale, gave a lot to Goodwill, etc. I would also like less mental clutter that bogs me down with useless, unproductive thoughts.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
* March 28th: my cousin Cici’s wedding in Atlanta. It also happened to be my dad’s birthday. After the reception, when everyone was milling around on the porch of this gorgeous antebellum mansion and getting ready to leave, a bunch of us sang happy birthday to my dad. It occurred to me that I didn’t know the last time my dad had all three of his kids with him on his birthday. It was probably sometime in the late 1980s.
* December 28th: we adopted Roxie.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I ran a half-marathon! And I didn’t die!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I haven’t talked about it much, but I had a pretty intense meltdown during the summer, and I was just… not good for a while. Like, I wouldn’t have blamed Chris if he’d broken up with me then, because I was just that difficult to live with. There are friends I’ve had since I was a kid who I’m pretty sure I’ve permanently alienated. I was a bad girlfriend, bad mom, bad friend, bad daughter, etc. I know I don’t have control over my brain chemistry, so that part isn’t really a failure, but it took me way too long to admit I needed help and seek it. I’ve been better the last few months, so you know. Upward and onward and all that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A lot of basic colds and things, but thankfully we all managed to avoid ER visits in 2015, so we’ll call that a win.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Roxie.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Catie, who has overcome so many of her fears and hang-ups this year, and made tremendous progress on a whole wide range of things. (I mean, Lucy is awesome and I’m not discounting her at all, but there are a lot more struggles at nearly-9 than there are at 4.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The entire Republican presidential field.

14. Where did most of your money go?
It just occurred to me this is the last year that “daycare” will qualify as one of my answers here, since Lucy starts kindergarten in July. WOOT!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” I think I was more excited about Star Wars than I was about Christmas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
The entire Taylor Swift “1989” album.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Overall sadder, but working my way out of that.
b) thinner or fatter? Same. (I’m not complaining.)
c) richer or poorer? Richer, since I got a raise in October.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I did a lot this year. I guess organizing my house and keeping paperwork from piling up is something I should have done more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Same answer as last year: worrying about things that I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent Christmas morning with my kids, Chris, and my parents, then shipped the girls off to their dad’s, and Chris and I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. My sister and brother-in-law flew in that afternoon, we picked the girls up from Dave, and went to do family Christmas gifts at my parents’ house. Overall, a very good Christmas.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
No, just still in love with the same guy.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
We binge-watched “Justified,” and I thought it was excellent. This was the year Chris finally got me to watch “Game of Thrones,” and I admit that I really love it, although I have to keep my phone handy so I can play Candy Crush during the really violent parts. Also love “The Leftovers,” “Homeland,” and “Agents of SHIELD.”

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah, try not to waste my energy on hate.

24. What was the best book you read?
Can I just admit that I probably haven’t read an entire book since “The Help”? I’ve given up. I used to love reading, but I don’t have the attention span or free time anymore. Maybe I’ll pick it up again someday.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Whatever is on pop radio.

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
A dog!

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
Lucy regressed to climbing in bed with me & Chris every night, which is one thing I would very much like to have cease in the immediate future.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars.

(Ok, fine: I loved “Inside Out” more than my kids did, “Big Hero 6” was excellent, and Chris and I enjoyed both “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.” But, yeah, Star Wars.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 39. I had the kids that night, so we did dinner at my parents’ house, and we had cake. It was nice.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If Bernie Sanders could’ve already been elected president.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
I’ve finally embraced the “leggings with long sweaters” look. It feels like wearing pajamas in public. It’s pretty much the best, I don’t know what took me so long.

32. What kept you sane?
It’s weird that I always hated exercise until a few years ago, and now it’s my favorite part of every day. I feel so much better after I work out, whether it’s running or Barre3 or some Betty Rocker workout or whatever. Endorphins are a real thing.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Last year I said Justin Theroux because of “The Leftovers,” and I stand by that answer.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The apparent resurgence of white supremacy in America. 2015 felt an awful lot like the 1960s.

35. Who did you miss?
There are a few friends who live far away who I really wish I could’ve seen this year.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
This feels unfair to try to single someone out. There are too many people I like.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
That I need to suck up my pride and ask for help sometimes.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I feel like I may have used this one before, but who cares:

“Both feet on the floor,
two hands on the wheel,
may the wind take your troubles away.”

Happy new year, everyone!

the past 2 months

I haven’t blogged in 2 months, which is weird for me. I keep thinking of things to write about and then I get distracted. So, here’s a bunch of random stuff that’s been happening lately.

We’ve been doing fun stuff on the weekends the kids are with me – now that summer is over and the neighborhood pool is closed, we’ve been going to the science museum and the playground more often.

Science museum. Have to pose with the shark jaw.

Those giant indoor trampoline places are fun on rainy days, too.

My levitating children at the Launching Pad.

I try to keep us busy on the weekends, it keeps the kids from fighting if we get out of the house and do active stuff.

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Catie update:

Catie finished her first term of 3rd grade and she’s now on her 3-week track-out break. (Let me take a moment and say again how much I love year-round school. Just around the time they start to get burned out on school, they get a nice long break. And then, just when they start to whine about being bored: time to go back to school!) She’s been spending this track-out break with her cousins; my aunt Susie is in town taking care of my cousin Cat’s kids, so I’ve been dropping her off every morning at their house and she’s been having a blast.

Third grade has been interesting because the two teachers split the day – one does math and social studies, the other does reading, writing, and science. So the kids spend half their day with each of them. Catie seems to like both teachers this year, which is pretty lucky.

Oh, and Catie got new glasses. She picked them out herself, and they look fantastic on her.

Catie got new glasses

Catie’s eye doctor is concerned about one of her eyes being significantly weaker than the other, so she’s now wearing an eye patch. She was upset about the idea of wearing it to school, because third grade girls can be mean about teasing, so I relented – she wears it from the time she gets up in the morning until she leaves for school, and then from the time she gets home until bedtime. She has it on for several hours each day, and hopefully that’s enough. We have a follow-up appointment in December to see how much progress she’s made.

And because she was constantly complaining about how her hair was making her hot, we decided to cut off several inches and give her a bob.

Catie's haircut before & after

She looks adorable, I absolutely love it. Between the haircut and getting her bangs off her face (both girls are growing their bangs out), she suddenly looks so grown up. Although maybe that’s partly due to her recent growth spurt. Girlfriend is now 4’5″ – she’s grown over 2 inches in the last 6 months.

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Lucy update:

Lucy has started taking a weekly dance class at her daycare, and I wish I could spy on it because I’ll bet it’s adorable. They email a newsletter to talk about the stuff they’re doing in class, so I’ll ask her to show me something (like pliè and relevé), and it’s a riot.

She also takes a weekly soccer class at daycare, which she really likes. I’m glad our daycare has these types of extracurricular activities, because I’m not sure how we’d make it work on our own time.

Lucy had a fever yesterday, so she's staying home with me because she needs to be fever-free for 24 hours before she can go back to daycare. She's obviously feeling better, so we're playing with hairstyles.

She’s gotten to a phase where she’s suddenly shy around new people, and her daycare teacher even says that she’s one of her quiet kids, but when she’s home, she’s still my hilarious little goofball.

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Me update:

I had a rough few months over the summer – there wasn’t any reason for it, just out of the blue I was suddenly anxious and jittery more often than not. It’s gotten a lot better in the last few weeks, for which I am thankful.

I’ve also been enjoying my weekends when the kids are with their dad. I get to sleep late, Chris and I can go see a movie or go out for dinner whenever we want, without worrying about anyone’s schedule. Yesterday, the weather was so gorgeous that I ran for nearly 5 miles, which is the first time I’ve gone that far since the half-marathon back in March. The combination of an injured foot plus the summer heat made me scale back on running, but I’m getting back into the longer distances and really enjoying it. I’m also doing the Barre3 28-day challenge with some friends, which is kind of fun just as a way to mix things up.

Work is good; I had my annual performance review a couple of weeks ago, and I got a raise. I asked Chris if it made him feel emasculated that I now make more money than he does. He laughed and said, “Sweetie, you go ahead and make aaaaall the money you want, the more the merrier.”

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Today it’s been 3 years since my divorce. I don’t think I would have remembered it, except the Timehop app on my phone reminded me. It made me think of this conversation I had with Lucy a few weeks ago:

Catie was with my parents, and I went to pick up Lucy from daycare. We were leaving when we saw a man waiting in a car in the parking lot. I recognized him as one of the teacher’s husbands – they only have one car, so he drops her off and picks her up.

Lucy: “That’s Miss Nikki’s husband.”
Me: “Yep.”
Lucy: “Just like you have a husband.”
Me: “No, I don’t have a husband anymore.”
Lucy: “You used to have a husband but he died?”
Me: (thinking: WTF, that’s morbid) “No, baby, I used to be married to Daddy, but we got divorced.”
Lucy: (genuinely shocked) “You used to be married to DADDY??!!”

Dave and I split up when she was only 2 months old, so of course she has no memory of us ever being together. And I guess in one way, it’s sad that she had no idea that was where she came from. But at the same time, I’m relieved that her only conscious memory of her parents is the two of us as friendly co-parents. We could’ve done a lot worse.

This doesn't happen often, but I love it when it does.

Because these two kids? They’ve turned out pretty spectacular so far.

First Night, First Week

Last week, Chris and I bundled up ourselves and the girls, and met up with my cousin and her family, then piled all eight of us into an SUV (God bless third row seats) and went to First Night, an event here where they do a New Year’s countdown and set off fireworks at 7 p.m., so the kids can get home and get to bed on time. (Well, sort of. Better than keeping them up until midnight, anyway.)

Catie & her cousin Elizabeth at First Night, downtown Raleigh
Catie and her cousin Elizabeth could not be more different, and they are crazy about each other. They walk down the street holding hands and it is the cutest thing.

And it’s funny that Catie is taller than Elizabeth, since the first time they met, they looked like this:
Elizabeth & Cate
That 4-month age difference ends up as a wash sooner than later.

I tried to get a selfie with Chris, but Lucy wouldn’t allow him to set her down, and she wouldn’t smile for the camera, so… yeah.
Lucy was NOT into this selfie at all.
Chris couldn’t find his regular knit cap, but it was super-cold, so he grabbed this hat that said “Veteran” on it. (He was in the Army for a while, but he can’t remember where the hat came from.) We joked that he looked like he belonged at an RNC convention with that hat, it doesn’t really fit his style at all.

Last year, after the fireworks, we stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts. This year, we decided that should become part of our annual tradition. The big kids went to watch the assembly line of donuts being made (it’s kind of cool how you can watch them on a giant conveyor belt), and Lucy and I snagged the first free table while the other grown-ups waited in line for donuts.

Lucy and I passed the time by goofing around with my phone.

Lucy wanted to take pictures while we waited for our traditional New Year's Eve donuts

New Year’s Eve was supposed to be Dave’s night to have the kids, but he had no interest in doing the First Night stuff (he’s not a fan of big crowds). Instead, I dropped them off at his place afterward, then Chris and I went home, got in our PJs, snuggled up on the couch and watched the midnight countdown on TV. It was quiet and lovely.

This week, I’ve started back to work, but Catie is still out of school for the next three weeks for her winter break. (Lucy is back at daycare, I think she missed her friends during the two weeks she was out.) Catie didn’t want to go to her regular daycare this time; she’s one of the oldest kids there, and I think she’s gotten bored with it. She’s old enough that she could theoretically stay home with me, because she’s pretty self-sufficient and doesn’t get underfoot too much while I’m working, but she’d be bored out of her mind.

Catie and my cousin Cat’s kids are both on the same year-round school schedule, and it just so happens that my aunt and uncle come up from Texas to help out with Cat’s kids (their grandkids) on track-out breaks. My aunt Susie said she’d be happy to take Catie too, so this week, I’ve been taking her over to their house in the mornings, and she’s been getting to play with her cousins all day. She’s had a blast, and she comes home happy and exhausted.

My aunt has even been getting Catie to eat foods that she normally never touches, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m not sure if she has some kind of voodoo mind power or what, but it’s fantastic. Not to mention that it’s saved me a ton of money that I haven’t had to pay for childcare, so I’m going to call that one a win all around.

So, hooray for having awesome family members who help out! It’s really great to have that support system when you need it.

How we do vacation
No reason for posting this, I just think it’s funny. Mainly because of Lucy’s face in the background as Elsa has a very serious talk with Ming-Ming from the Wonder Pets. And Catie is in love with that Zoomer Dino she got for Christmas.

New Year’s Meme for 2014

Time for another annual recap. (I feel like these might be boring for other people to read, but I love reading my friends’ posts, so why not?)

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
* I took both of my girls on a road trip to the beach by myself. (We met up with Chris and his kids once we got there, but still. It was just the three of us in the car, I didn’t have my parents for backup. That felt huge.)
* Voluntarily brought a pet reptile into my home, and learned how to feed it live insects. THAT is not something I ever thought I’d do.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No and no. I view New Year’s resolutions the way I view getting your lover’s name tattooed on your body: it’s pretty much a guarantee for failure. Why jinx yourself like that?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lots of my Twitter friends had babies. No one in my family or immediate circle of friends, though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
I don’t think I ever left the state of North Carolina this year. That’s a little depressing.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Less clutter in my life. The physical clutter is an ongoing process – I’ve been cleaning things out gradually for a while: had a yard sale, gave a lot to Goodwill, etc. I would also like less mental clutter that bogs me down with useless, unproductive thoughts.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Other than the usual birthdays and anniversaries, I’m not sure there’s one particular date that stands out this year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I broke all kinds of mental blocks I had about running this year. I never thought I could run more than 2 or maybe 2.5 miles. This year is the first time I ran 3 miles, then 5, then 7, then 10. And I didn’t die.

9. What was your biggest failure?
The times I let my anxiety get the better of me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The “balloon sinuplasty” I had in June that was supposed to be a quick & easy recovery left me in terrible pain for about 3 months. And for all the “you’ll never get sinus infections again!” b.s. that my ENT gave me, uh, yeah. Let me show you what my medicine cabinet looks like right now to disprove that.

(I guess I should file that under “it was worth a try,” but I’m still really angry at my doctor for basically selling me on a procedure that didn’t help at all. Maybe I’m just a statistical outlier, who knows. But if I had known the outcome, I never would have done it.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I guess I should say Spyro Jones, because he has made Catie so happy. But honestly? The best thing I bought was headphones for the kids’ iPads. No more competing game sounds! They have their screen time in silence, and oh, it is glorious.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Chris, who lets me be crazy when I need to be crazy and never invalidates my feelings.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The entire GamerGate scandal and realizing just how misogynistic our society still is, and how much more progress women still have to make just to be treated as equals. That was pretty depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare, rent, bills, same ol’.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I registered for a half-marathon. Equally exciting and terrifying.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
“Let it Go,” and pretty much the entire Frozen soundtrack. It’s kind of on a constant loop in our house.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Last year I was pretty disgustingly happy, and I still am, so: same.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. (Yay running!)
c) richer or poorer? I got a raise this year, so technically richer, I guess.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I did a lot this year. I guess organizing my house and keeping paperwork from piling up is something I should have done more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about things that I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I mentioned this in my last blog post, but I spent Christmas morning with my entire family, then after everyone left, I took a nap and went for a run. It was lovely.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
*Fall* in love, no. *Still* in love, yes.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Chris and I have a few shows we watch together: Homeland, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Once Upon a Time. I really love all of those.

We also watched The Affair, but it’s one of those shows where absolutely none of the characters are even remotely likeable, and I’m not sure why I keep watching it. (I keep yelling at the TV, “You’re stupid and you make bad decisions!”)

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah, try not to waste my energy on hate.

24. What was the best book you read?
Every year, I draw a blank on this question. Pass.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing that everyone else hasn’t heard on pop radio a million times. This is the first year I broke down and admitted that I actually kinda like Taylor Swift.

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
Lucy sleeps through the night in her own bed now! That was pretty huge.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
I can’t think of a thing that I am lacking.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We don’t see movies in the theater very often. Gone Girl was excellent. I liked Mockingjay a lot, and Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty fun. I just rented Maleficent and watched it with Catie a couple of days ago, we both enjoyed it.

I guess January of this year is when I took my kids to see Frozen in the theater, and it launched Lucy’s obsession that has lasted all year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 38. Chris and I went out for dinner at a super-fancy restaurant where we would otherwise never eat. For dessert, we picked up bo-berry biscuits from Bojangles on our way home, because balance.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’ve got nothing. I am incredibly fortunate.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Hit or miss. I spent ages trying to find a pair of jeans that fit me. I just learned recently that this is apparently because I’ve lost enough weight that I’m now a size 8, so I was trying on the wrong size. (I’ve never been smaller than a 10 in my life.) Who knew?

32. What kept you sane?
Running running running.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Oh, Justin Theroux, who I never really noticed until The Leftovers. That back tattoo? That… well. Yeah.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Same answer as last year: gun control, abortion rights, marriage equality, all the typical things us hardcore liberals get amped up about.

35. Who did you miss?
My grandmother passed away when I was 20 years old, and sometimes I look at my girls and think about how much she would have loved them. It’s not practical to wish she was still here – she’d be 104 years old – but I do miss her a lot.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
This feels unfair to try to single someone out. There are too many people I like.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
I can set goals for myself that seem completely impossible and actually achieve them. I need to remember that when I sell myself short.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Don’t believe me, just watch.” –Bruno Mars

Happy new year, y’all!

the hard and the good

I had a Twitter conversation with Gwen yesterday (who I don’t think has a blog anymore, and her Twitter account is locked, so I can’t link to her, but hi, Gwen!) about the people who I call Chronic One-Uppers. These are the people who, no matter what you’re doing with your life, they have to top it somehow. They make themselves feel superior by minimizing you.

Chronic One-Uppers exist in all facets of life – in school, at work, at the gym, in your social circles – but Chronic One-Uppers as parents? Are some of the most annoying people to be around. There are several different variations on this, from the Sanctimommy types (“you let your kids eat French fries? My children only eat raw organic vegetables that I’ve grown myself!”) to the My Child is More Advanced than Yours parents (“oh, your baby is 8 months old and not crawling yet? My baby crawled at 6 months!”), but the ones who I find the most intolerable of all are the “just wait!” parents.

(This is where I scrambled to try to find Temerity Jane’s post on this subject, but alas, Google has failed me.)

The “just wait!” parents are the people who take great delight in telling you how hard parenting will be further down the road than wherever you currently are.

It starts when you’re pregnant.
“Enjoy sleeping now! Once the baby comes, you won’t sleep again for years!”

[Side note to pregnant ladies or those who may become pregnant someday: this is a load of crap. First of all, sleep isn’t a savings account that you can store up and withdraw later. Second, trying to sleep when you’re hugely pregnant is miserable. You need a million pillows to support your body, and if you have to roll over, it’s a whole production of moving said pillows, and also you have to get up to pee every 20 minutes. When you have a newborn, yeah, ok, babies wake you up a lot, but when you get the chance to sleep, you can sleep however you want (on your stomach! On a couch! On the FLOOR if you want to!), and you may have the option of letting your spouse take a shift to give you a break. Your spouse cannot, however, take on your giant belly and sciatic pain to let you get a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant. So those “sleep while you can!” people are liars, and you should either ignore them or kick them squarely in the shin.]

Then when you have a baby.
“Just wait until you hit the terrible twos!”

Oh, your kid is now a two year-old?
“Oh, three is so much worse than two, just wait, you’ll see!”

When you have a kid in grade school?
“Just wait until they’re teenagers!”

It never ends. There’s always something.

The thing is, no matter what phase you’re in, there’s some hard stuff, sure, but there’s also good stuff.

For example, when you have a newborn? Sure, you’re exhausted and you feel like you’ve been run over by a Mack truck full of hormones, but you also have this amazing little person who’s suddenly been thrust into your life. Which is pretty fantastic in and of itself.

From my point of view: I have a 3 year-old. And it’s pretty widely acknowledged that three year-olds are terrible and difficult, and basically irrational tiny dictators. And while that’s true, I also get unsolicited hugs and “I love you, Mommy”s, which are pretty much the greatest thing in the world.

She said, "I want to lay down in your bed & snuggle with you because I'm a little bit tired." I thought she was joking. She wasn't.

The snuggles are pretty nice, too.

And when she’s not acting like a threenager, Lucy is hilarious.

She is the stereotypical second child, a total ham, and she has a way of expressing herself that keeps us laughing all the time. (At least as long as she’s happy. When it’s tantrum time, LOOK OUT.)

Lucy happy about water play day at daycare

With Catie, at seven years old? Sure, there are times she throws a bad attitude around. I know that right now she’s practicing for the tween years, and testing my boundaries and trying to see how far she can push me. But at the same time, since she’s seven, I can talk to her like a normal person, and she understands. I can take her places and she acts like a civilized person. We can go to a restaurant, just the two of us, sit and have a conversation, and eat our food together, and she’s just completely delightful to be around.

School picture day for Catie. Lucy wanted in on the action too. (Texted to me by their dad.)

Here’s where I get to my main point:

You can be in a really hard phase of parenting, and it can also be really good at the same time. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Just because it sucks sometimes, doesn’t mean that it isn’t also amazing and totally worth it.

Example time!

I struggle with weekday evenings. It often feels like a nightly marathon. It starts with dinner, then homework, then bathtime, then one last snack (usually fruit of some kind) before we brush teeth, read books, and settle in for the night. Combine that with trying to make sure we’re set up for the next day – packing Catie’s lunchbox, setting up the coffee pot for me – it’s exhausting and I often get stressed out and short-tempered with them.

(Credit where it’s due: I almost never do the dishes anymore, because Chris does them for me. So that’s one less thing off my “nightly marathon” plate, and I make sure that I always thank him for doing it, because I am truly grateful for the fact that he does little things like that to make my life easier.)

So, the other night, I was irritable and kind of rushing the kids through the whole bedtime routine – making sure Lucy went to the bathroom one last time, making sure Catie took her asthma medication, all the stuff on the nightly bedtime checklist.

I finally got the girls into their room, and Lucy picked out a Sandra Boynton book for me to read to her. Catie said, “Hey, Lucy, you want me to read to you instead?” Lucy said yes, so Catie climbed into bed next to her, and read to her.

Catie has taken over story time from me. I will never complain about this.

It was one of those moments that just made me so happy. I love it when they’re sweet to each other, I love that Catie is more eager to read, I love that Lucy is old enough to not freak out when we suggest changing her routine just a tiny bit (6 months ago, she would’ve screamed if Catie had gotten into her bed to read to her instead of me).

So yeah, being a parent is hard. But ignore the Chronic One-Uppers. There will always be hard phases. The good stuff balances it out, and more often than not, the good stuff significantly outweighs the hard stuff.

And I guess that’s my version of the “just wait!” thing – if you’re in a phase where parenting feels like it’s just too much and you can’t deal with it, just wait, because someday your kids are going to do something that knocks the wind right out of your chest because of how overwhelmed-with-love you are.

And ok yeah, maybe that’s cheesy. Sorry for that. But damn, if it isn’t the truth.

P.S. Thanks for the inspiration on this one, Gwen.