I used to have a friend, Penelope, who had four kids and always seemed perfectly pulled together, like June Cleaver in size zero rhinestone-studded jeans and stilettos. She was typically the team mom, and she’d cook breakfast for the whole class on the first day of school. She also competed in triathlons and made charming scarecrows from milk jugs. I bet she didn’t have any moldy vegetables in her refrigerator either.
“Perfect Penny,” as I’d sneer in a nice way, consistently kept her composure and never threatened to run away like I did. She never yelled at her kids and always remembered to throw away the Halloween pumpkins on her front porch before they caved in. That’s because she was much younger than me. In my thirties, I did it all, but lost my sanity and memory in the process. Back when I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a newborn, I could’ve medaled in Olympic multitasking. I was Flo-Jo in baggy sweatpants running the race of my life every day. Except for the running part.
I could put a toddler in time-out in the supermarket, estimate the cost of my groceries, soothe a sick baby, and decide which AP classes my two-year-old needed to take to get into Vanderbilt, all without forgetting when the dryer would finish so my clothes wouldn’t sit and wrinkle. Now I can’t even contemplate about how my thighs rub together without overflowing my coffee cup.
I used to rock at reading maps as well, but age has stolen my geographic intuition. Sometimes I rely on Sasha, our evil GPS home wrecker with the sexy voice. She lurks in my dashboard and leads me down dark roads that end with 500-foot drops. My husband says I just misunderstand Sasha. He’s enamored with her because on trips she doesn’t wake up and scream at him when he veers slightly onto the rumble strips fringing the interstate. Just the opposite. No matter what happens, Sasha always sounds like she’s leaning on a barstool in Mexico, exhaling a ribbon of smoke from a Marlboro Light. I’m sure she is much younger than me too.
Through the years I also lost any coolness I had. When I snap “self-takes” on my phone, my kids immediately tweet to their friends about how weird I am and how they’d go live with Amber if it wasn’t for the fact that I buy them stuff. I guess I am pretty cool at the mall—especially in my track suit when I do my early-morning power-walking.
My kids don’t realize that they are the ones who made me old. When they eventually move out of my house, I’ll exude my old vibrance. I’ll have hobbies and watch R-rated movies. I’ll be Flo-Jo again, making up for lost time. Except, of course, for the running part.