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May 5, 2008

I was out early this morning running, or more accurately flailing my limbs and gasping for air. For about 20 seconds I got what it is that people like about running. The sun was shining, may hair was flying behind me in the breeze. In the shadows you couldn’t see that my grey roots are showing and I looked to be about 6ft tall with spindly long legs.

I had borrowed my 7 yr old son’s ipod, because I don’t have one of my own. And as I was making my way back home the R.E.M. song Driver 8 came on. For a moment I was 19 again running along the Charles River.

Only back then I was was carrying a walkman and I would have to stop and flip the cassette over at some point. I would be running home to a crowded apartment where I would likely be handed a cigarette and a beer before I even reached the couch. We were in that weird place of our lives. Not still children, not yet grown -ups, though we often felt we were. We had little real world responsibilities. Our lives were a completely blank canvas and most of my friends had no idea what they wanted to do next week, never mind for the rest of our lives. College majors had not yet even been declared for the first time.

I remember one afternoon my friend Katie and I were talking about what we imagined our lives to be twenty years in the future. You know, when we were old. We reasoned we would both be married and have a kid or two (Turns out I was always an overachiever.) We wondered who our spouses would be. Where would we live, other than next door to each other, of course. What we would be when we grew up– all the way up. Somehow it didn’t seem incongruous to have deep life discussions in between rounds of bouncing a quarter into a glass of warm beer.

I’m not sure what I imagined my life would be like all those twenty years ago. But I don’t think it was this. I couldn’t have imagined the juggling of conference calls, baseball games, or the very idea of email. I had no idea what a crockpot was or that I should buy stock in granola bars and string cheese.

Today I ran up the driveway, the music of my freshman college year playing in my head. I grabbed the baseballs that were laying in the front yard. I paused before I came in the back door to pick up the garbage that the bear had once again strewn all over the yard. I could hear loud laughter inside, punctuated by squealing. I closed the open door on the minivan, saying a small prayer that the battery wouldn’t be dead. I entered the kitchen and was promptly shot by a Nerf gun. A little boy skates by me in the kitchen on his roller blades, his t-shirt proclaiming “I’m Mom’s Favorite,” which at the moment he definitely was not.

This is thirty-nine. This is what I am going to be when I grow up. Nothing like what I imagined.

And yet, it is pretty fucking amazing.

Posted by Chris @ 6:58 pm  

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  1. Diana says:

    Happy Birthday!

  2. divrchk says:

    Happy Birthday!

  3. Sonya says:

    I love this story!! I love that you are so honest!!

  4. Anna says:

    I think your life sounds pretty fucking amazing too! Heh! ;-)
    Happy birthday!

  5. nancy alvarez says:

    Wow I can only hope to grow up to live that kind of joy!!!!!!
    Happy birthday have a good one!!!!!!!!!

  6. kate says:

    Happy 39th Birthday!

  7. Deb says:


    Thanks for this post.

    It’s my 39th birthday today. I nearly went to B.U. If I had, I might have met you along the Charles, although I would have been doing that hopeful run-walk-get-out-of-breath exercise gig that I was doing back then. I saw REM that year, wasn’t it the Document tour? I also saw U2 and Rush. Today, for my 39th birthday, I went into Target and bought the (new) live Rush double-album.

    39 is weird. I could imagine 38 when I was 18. I couldn’t imagine 39. I, too, had no idea I’d be home-schooling my kids, although if someone had peered into the future and told me, I’d have been thrilled, and not too shocked. I was just starting to think outside of the box, and it would have sounded like the person I wanted to become.

    Although if that person would have told me Rush would still be releasing albums, I’d about have fallen over with giggles.

  8. swirlgirl says:

    I remember when I was in grade school and thought about the year 2000. I knew how old I would be, but I honestly thought it would be like the Jetsons. You know, with flying cars and hair dressing machines. (or am I dating myself even more if you don’t remember the Jetsons). Then when I was in middle school, I thought I would be like Mary Tyler Moore or Julia. Single and Fabulous! Kind of like Sex in the City in the 70’s….

    Now at the ripe old age of 44 - with two of the youngest children amongst my peer group (one of my friends is actually a grandmother!!!) I would never have imagined my life to have turned out like this.

    Glad it did though….I could never have worn those micro mini’s like Mary did. I am built more like Rhoda than Mary.


  9. Hoosiermama says:

    I am 39 too … and holding.

  10. Cary says:

    I wonder what 49/59 will be like. I hope it will include sleeping past 7am in the morning, vacations, and lots of wine.

  11. Ruth H says:

    It’s still pretty amazing for me at age 71. I certainly don’t feel that old, and I still have things I want to do when I grow up. I’m still striving to learn more. I’m just finishing a course in presentation and power point. I wish I could grow up and be as organized as you seem to be. I bought a new bicycle a few weeks ago, it was very expensive so I have to use it a lot to justify the cost. You’ll see, it never changes in life yet it is never the same old thing. And a good life to ya!!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Um, bear?

  13. Denise says:

    Yes. 39 is pretty amazing. So is 45, well I think it is since I’m going to BE 45 soon.

    Great post, Chris.

  14. Heidi says:

    In the middle of an ordinary day, along comes a fairy tale - or something like that. Sounds like you have a good life. Enjoy the moments as they happen. Cheers!

  15. Kimberly says:

    Isn’t it amazing what music does to you? I was at the gym the other day and what came on the “club.com” video but Tiffany, for Pete’s sake. And I flashed back to high school, and suddenly started singing along, feeling like I was 17 again.

    And it never occurred to me then, that I would be 34 before I got married, having gone through three career paths, and having my first child when I was 36. When I was 17, I was planning on a dozen children (maybe you and I changed bodies somewhere in the late 80’s?)

    Sometimes I still don’t feel like a grownup, even though I am going to be 38 in less than a month. Sigh.

    Happy Birthday.

  16. Kelsey says:

    Wow beautifully written i love this!!

  17. Lisa says:

    You are a rich woman!

  18. debby says:

    I’m actually turning 39 tomorrow. Twenty years ago, I was sure I’d feel all grown up by now.

  19. Julie says:

    Happy birthday. Did your husband do as good a job this year as last?

  20. pickel says:

    It is absolutely amazing how you allow me to see every image you have created. Obviously, that college education has done you well.

    I remember my favorite running tape had songs like Stairway to Heaven and Back in Black. This time of year always take me back to those days (and the days of drinking on my college front porch).

  21. Maddy says:

    I love this post, really made me smile and I know just how you feel.

  22. Meredith says:

    Less than 60 days from having our first child and this touched me in a way I never expected. Thanks for giving me some perspective and knowing that it really does come out well in the end :)

  23. xianfern says:

    This is what I feel like almost everyday.. Even amongst all the chaos, it’s truly amazing.. great post!

  24. Jennifer H says:

    Happy, happy birthday! Your thirty-nine-year-old self seems pretty amazing to me.

  25. Shalini says:

    Love that! (and I love REM)!! 39… I thought you were in your early 30s!!

  26. Carolynn from Western Australia says:

    Chris, do you know what, it gets BETTER. I turned 50 last June and it was totally amazing when I think back over those years and look at what I have achieved. In fact only the other day I was saying to Monty (Hubby) that I have actually spent over half my years with him. I didn’t get to have any children, but I have had my fair share of pets. Also being a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse I have ceratinly looked ater my fair share of babies. When I look back over those 50 years I have done and seen so much both before and after meeting my husband and am sure we will continue to do so. I’m not sure what age I will be when I grow up though.

    Take Care and Enjoy
    Love to you ALL Carolynn :-)

  27. Colleen says:

    Thank you for that trip down memory lane. I just turned 39 two weeks ago and I think I’ll always feel 19-22ish on the inside:) Your writing rocks. Thanks for sharing, Colleen

  28. Heather's Garden says:

    Poignantly written. I remember thinking 25 would find me in an apartment in Manhattan with martinis and handsome men waltzing in and out of my life. I never expected that I’d be driving a station wagon ferrying my step-sons around in the town where I was raised. 8 years later and I wish I could get the oldest to call us and the youngest not to go off to college in the fall because my heart will break when he stops calling. Amazing indeed.

  29. Mandee says:

    Happy Birthday!

  30. Nicki says:

    Here’s to hoping my 39 is as good as yours!

  31. Not June Cleaver says:

    Wow Chris. Nice post. I love the way you have linked the past with the present and shown how different it is from what you expected, but how not so different really. You’re a lucky mama. I tell myself that all the time (and I have less than half the number of kids you have).

    As for those quarters…

    Looking back, I am so totally and completely grossed out by those quarters. I mean, they were all over disgusting bar floors and in other peoples’ mouths and still we drank that icky beer they landed in. And we have lived to tell about it.

    Is today your birthday, or are you just having a moment?

  32. HappyYogaMama says:

    I can totally identify with this one. Thanks for the post!

  33. Mocha says:

    My birthday wish for you this year is to continue on with the fantastic family life you’ve cultivated and the amazing, intelligent woman that you have been for a long time.

    Right after drinking a beer and smoking a ciggie after a run. Yeah, I did that, too.

    Happy Day, Girlie!

  34. lindsay says:

    great post. i love when you write at length. loved the bit about declaring majors “for the first time”. Ha!

  35. Rachel says:

    You went and did it again…amazing post! I’m 26 with a 3yo and some days I still don’t feel “grown up.” You kitchen this morning sounds like a movie! lol

  36. Jamie AZ says:

    Perfect words! I, too, don’t think I’m exactly where I thought I’d be, but it’s been a hell of a ride!

  37. Stacey says:

    Beautifully said.
    And as someone equally as wise once said, “it’s not about having what you want…it’s wanting what you have.” If you can take a look at your life and say “this is amazing”, then you have it all. God bless!

  38. suburbancorrespondent says:

    I never would have guessed myself; and if I could have had a glimpse of myself 20 years into the future, I would not have understood any of it - the kids, the mess, the happiness…

    But I definitely would have made a note to myself to invest in those granola bars and string cheese.

  39. Carolyn says:

    Isn’t it awesome when we exceed even our own expectations?

  40. Caren Story says:

    Happy birthday! I hope you had a good day!

  41. jenny says:

    wow…you hit the nail on the head. How did you know that is how I have been feeling today?? Flashbacks to younger days and how different they were all while I was watching my 4 year old play on a soccer team for the first time.
    I have questions for you…
    Is today your birthday, Cinco de Mayo baby??
    Where did you go to school in Boston?
    and last but not least, do you have the newwest REM…they are back and GOOD!
    PS Happy Birthday if it applies…what kind of cake do you bake for yourself and please share your recipe!

  42. angie says:

    You’re right. Motherhood, on good days and bad, is pretty fucking amazing.

  43. Susan says:

    Happy birthday, girlfriend. I wish I were there to hand you a beer and a cigarette. Or maybe a nice chardonnay and some hummous.

  44. Barb says:

    Happy, happy birthday! (If it is today)

  45. Angella says:

    Happy, happy birthday! You inspire me.

  46. Evelyn says:

    favoritest post ever. I like how the bear even got a cameo…

  47. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    Time flies, let me tell you! It seems like yesterday that I was your age with an 18-year-old and a 13-year-old. Now my oldest of five grandchildren is 13! Life is good!

  48. Ali says:

    That’s awesome, I love it.

  49. Headless Mom says:

    I’m 39, too. Isn’t life grand?

  50. Stephanie says:

    One: I want to be you when I grow up; according to your calendar, I have 10 years. I don’t think I am going to make it.

    Two: What?!? BEAR?!? Did I miss a post about the bear? Put the Nerf shooter’s skills to use and arm him with some paint balls and scare the sucker off…er I mean, um, some organic, bear-friendly peta approved, bear pellets.

  51. Lisa says:

    Happy Birthday to you! I’m glad your life isn’t exactly how you imagined it……..how boring would that have been ;) !

  52. Fina says:

    Could not have said it better myself. 2 kids and a husband later, and 19 years on this job, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
    Happy spring!

  53. Wicked Stepmom says:

    Aww… Happy (almost) Mother’s Day to my favorite Mommy Blogger!

  54. whip1 says:

    Now that I am a grown up and don’t really have any growing left to do, I can say that the best part of being an adult is setting your own bedtime.

  55. Phil says:

    Once those rug rats infest your life, it is all over. You fall head over heels in love with a being that is going to alternately suck your soul out, and give you a reason to live.


  56. annie says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  57. Suburban Turmoil says:

    Oh God. Please, please, please, please, please write a book. Please.

  58. Katie says:

    Happy birthday! Other than being married and having 5 kids (yep, I really did want 5 kids by 30 years old), this isn’t exactly where I thought I’d be either.

  59. Lisa Lisa says:

    That IS amazing! You overachiever YOU! I find myself thinking about these same things. I’m glad my life is what it is today - who wants to be a big famous SUPERSTAR anyway with all those Paparazzi always on your tail and bad rumors flying around. SHEESH!!!!

  60. Michelle says:

    I’m turning 35 in 15 days and you’re right I had no way of comprehending what life would be like as I approached “old”. It is pretty darn amazing.

  61. Michelle says:

    Um that should be 39. . .

  62. Junie says:

    This is beautiful…and it gives me hope. Thank you.

  63. Heather says:

    You’re right on all accounts. And I’m pretty amazed that your 7-year old son has an REM song on his iPod. Who put that on there for him?

  64. Rose Farver says:

    AMEN! That post was pretty fucking amazing and moved me as a woman and mother. Thank you for sharing the beauty that is life in a way that’s just real.

  65. Kari says:

    This was a really great post, until the last line. The F-bomb didn’t add any humor, or any class for that matter. Normally that doesn’t offend me-it just didn’t quite fit in at the end of this kind of reflective post. That’s all.

  66. kelly says:

    I love when music can transport me back in time and bring back those not-a-child, not-yet-an adult feelings/memories. That was such a carefree time. Blog wasn’t even a word.

    I am a few years older than you…43, all the way grown up (in theory) and you’re right, life IS pretty fucking amazing.

    Happy 39th, Chris!

  67. Anne says:

    It is amazing, isn’t it? What we think will happen is never quite right, for good or bad. 40 is very different than I thought it would be.
    And I have REM in my cd player at the moment, indoctrinating my kids into what decent music sounds like…

  68. Kritter Krit says:

    Channelling Dooce there perhaps? Whoops. Maybe you shocked everybody silent with the f-bomb at the end.

    Not that I’m criticizing. I loved the post (it took me back to when I would have bet MONEY that thirty was when they put you in the casket), and sometimes I wish I had the balls to drop a big, juicy potty word for emphasis.

    But then I picture my grandmother’s face…or my pastor’s wife, who also reads my blog. And that pretty much wrecks it. ;)

  69. k. reid says:

    And you know what? Forty-nine is pretty amazing, too! I’m a long time reader, first time commenter…. Love your writing. Fresh and real.


  70. Amanda says:

    Beautifully said.

  71. Julie Stiles Mills says:

    LOVE this post! I just can’t relate to people who are high strung or perpetually negative and irritated with their kids.

    By the way, do you know how to get dried caramel off of a cloth mini-van seat?

  72. Ginger says:

    Chris, you are pretty f-ing amazing! I am only a year younger and I think I kinda want to be like you when I grow up!

  73. Leah says:

    You make thirty-nine look foxy and amazing. Can I be like you when I grow up?

  74. Ashley says:

    2 days and no comments? I hope you didn’t scare everyone away with the f-bomb… I have to admit I was a little take aback to see you swearing… but I think it’s pretty funny.

    I have to say I love this post, and I love that you realize how lucky you are to have the family and life that you do. I think you’re awesome, and I LOVE your blog!

  75. jennP says:

    call me slow… but I just caught on to what this post meant!
    Happy Birthday!!

  76. Vicki says:

    I really have enjoyed your blog, I don’t want to make a judgement on one blog but, considering how gifted you are with words, was cursing as a description really necessary?

  77. GG says:

    I’m sorry, but would you want your children to end one of their essay’s with “And yet, it’s pretty fucking amazing” ? Call me a prude, but I prefer to rise above profanity.

  78. Mom101 says:

    “This is what I’m going to be when I grow up.” I love that.

    You just brought back memories of me and my bff in sixth grade, speculating what we’d be doing in the year 2000. We’d be old, that’s for sure. 32. And now look at you - well past that at 39.

    Congrats on being all grown up. And still realizing there’s growing left to do.

  79. Ashley says:

    Ok… now there are plenty of comments… I didn’t see any when I posted before about there being none….

  80. Betsy says:

    I, too, turn 39 in a few weeks. I, too, lived in Boston but in my early 20s and have vivid memories of running along the Charles and back to my small studio in the Fenway and then a night out on Landsdowne, Back Bay, etc. I get those “grass is always greener” moments when I think about how much time I had ALONE in those days and yearn for a time when I won’t have a husband, kid, baby, clawing at me. BUT….how lonely I was in those old days. Wishing for that special someone… and now I have 4, my husband, and my three great, beautiful, funny girls. I still don’t feel like I have “grown up” but I think that is the joy in having kids…they keep you young and childlike. Thanks for a great read…and some great memories.

  81. gorillabuns says:

    Happy belated birthday.

    You don’t look a day over 24.

    Think of it this way - at least you aren’t pregnant at 39.

  82. GM says:

    It’s your birthday; you can swear if you want to.

  83. Victoria says:

    God I love you.

  84. Maggie says:

    You don’t need me to tell you, but your post is perfect the way it is. I think you are the best writer of all the blogs I read and if you ever did write a book I would be sure to read it.

  85. jm says:

    Happy Birthday! Considering how young you look, you will officially LOOK 39 in 2031.

    Bitch. :) I kid, because you are my favorite teen-looking mommy.

  86. kelly says:

    The non-cursing comments make me want to curse more. That’s just one example of my only being grown up ‘in theory’.

    Almost 40, 7 kids, and a bear…I think it’s okay to say the F word for emphasis now and then.

    NotJune: The alcohol kills the germs on the quarters. That’s what I learned in college.

  87. chanelireli says:

    happy happy birthday!

  88. megan says:

    This post is awesome. Your writing is really just amazing. And happy birthday! You and my husband both turned 39 on the same day - crazy, huh? Well, maybe not so crazy since lots of people share a birthday, but I thought same day AND same year was pretty crazy. hope your day was wonderful!

  89. melissa6 says:

    this was a really touching essay, but i also agree that the last sentence really ruined it for me.It was totally unecessary and tacky.

  90. Jamie says:

    Happy Belated 39th! I agree…you look amazing!

    I’ll be 39 this summer. REM is definitely on the soundtrack of my youth. Sniff. ;)

  91. halimah says:

    39. I turned in November. When I was living my version of 19, my dreamed future included wanting to be a German translator working at the United Nations. Or living in a commune. Far-flung choices..lol. How did I end up as an Audit Clerk?

  92. sam says:

    Great post, too bad it had to end with an f-sharp. Really turned me off!

  93. elizabeth says:

    BEAUTIFUL! Oh how I have thought these very things so often this year - as I am now a bit beyond 40. I struggle with cursing to my husband during some of our more heated discussions (long story - too many details) and I hate that I curse HATE IT. But I’ll be damned if someone at our age(s) can’t use what words they want in their blog, discussing their life! Holier than thou people make me WANT to drop the F-bomb (okay, I just gave some of the detail… ;-P)

    Happy belated Birthday - you amazing woman, mom, wife and AMAZING writer!

  94. Chandra says:

    Great post! Happy Birthday :)

  95. sryan says:

    You’re blog always makes my day, I have something to give in return. Three of my mom friends have recommended the novel, “The Book of Mom” by Taylor Wilshire. Have you read it? It’s a funny, insightful story about an overwhelmed, burned out mom who finds her authentic self. I am not so into the New Age ideas, but couldn’t put the book down and think it is a perfect summer read. Would love to hear your thoughts.