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back-school-marketing1So, long time. I’m rusty, unsurprisingly. I also keep waiting for my old Nook to auto-correct, which is awkward. I hadn’t realized how much I’d come to rely on that handy feature to fix things for me. We all complain about Auto-correct’s failings, and there are many. But damn. It appears I can barely type without some kind of electronic intervention. Sad. Sadder still, I have an iPad now, but I haven’t downloaded the WordPress app and that is in part because I’m not convinced I remember my password. Whoops. I should do something about that at some point.

I bet you’ve all missed these clearly well-thought-out musings. I had the urge to write last night for the first time in ages, but the urge to sleep was greater still, and it won. Since it was my husband’s day off I was able to sleep the clock around, which was bliss. I woke up at 12:30pm with zero feelings of remorse.

School starts on Monday, and it will change our lives across the board. My husband has been a substitute teacher for the last year. He loves it, and he’s really good at it. He wants to go back to school to get his certification so that he can teach, possibly middle school science. Much more on this later. This summer has been rough without the mostly-steady income that subbing provided, and we will all be very grateful to have him back at it again. But what we haven’t quite determined is what to do about his other part-time jobs.

He’s been working at a grocery school since around the time school ended a few months ago. The pay is terrible, but it’s weekly, and there are definite advantages to having money always a few days away from coming in, however meager it might be. The school district pays once a month, five days AFTER our rent is due. You can imagine how much fun that is. It’s far better money, but it isn’t so much that it creates a surplus that will carry us easily through to his next paycheck. That weekly “grocery money” (Chris’ ironic nickname as it’s where it comes from and where it goes as well) is incredibly helpful. But I’m not sure how logical it is to expect him to work 8am to 3pm at school, then 4pm to 10pm at the store. While he’d only have that schedule three days a week, as he typically gets two weeknights off, it would still be exhausting. Oh, and as I mentioned he wants to go back to school. That schedule precludes that concept entirely. Additionally, he valet parks one extremely long day a week. But it’s a weekday, so neither of us can figure out whether it’s logical for him to hang onto that or not. With that job he also gets paid weekly, which is helpful. That regular influx of money has been a huge relief. It still obviously doesn’t pay as well as school, but relying on that once-a-month paycheck is a huge strain. We need to figure out how to proceed, but it’s tricky.

My daughter starts kindergarten on Monday – my baby! These five years have flown by, in spite of the financial stress and resulting loss we’ve struggled with. I’m excited for her, no question. That said, her school has half-day kindergarten and I work until 3:15pm. Ugh. So aftercare is required, and it’s $110 per week. Suddenly those annoying part-time jobs with weekly paychecks don’t seem so expendable. The aftercare program requires weekly payments, and won’t wait because the monthly paycheck from the district hasn’t arrived yet.

There’s no ready solution for any of this. We’re looking into his going back to school and taking on enough student loans to cover the cost of tuition, books AND his part-time job(s). Giving up the part-time jobs is the only feasible way he can study, regardless. It’s just that given what we’ve been through, willingly taking on debt, even of the student loan variety, is scary as hell.

My son is entering his last year of middle school, which is honestly a bit more than my brain can handle. His schedule is obscene; he’s in the GATE program and has a “zero hour” class this year, so school will start at 7am. Worse, we encouraged him to do this. We must have been out of our minds! We were watching the Olympics last night and talking about the next ones and whether Michael Phelps would in fact be there. My son said, “Wow, 2020.” I said, “Yes, and you’ll be 17.” That alone might have been horrifying enough, but of course my mind had to go to how old I’ll be in 2020. Jesus. So not okay.

I try hard to be relaxed about my age, especially now that I’m in the “older mom” category. I really do try, and I do all right, for the most part. But the realization that in 2020 I will be 51 years old just… honestly, it’s a giant mind fuck. I still feel 20-something, on average (and like I’m 15 on a bad day). Maybe I look 30-something on a good day, I’m not sure. But I just can’t picture myself at 50-something; it’s entirely unrelate-able to me. At the same time, I understand that getting older is a privilege, and not one everyone gets. So while I struggle with the notion of myself as “old,” the truth is I have an almost-5-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son, so my reality is that old is good, or great, even. Hell, I’ll accept ancient, because I want to be around to watch them get married, have kids and figure out who they are. Since I had Avery at 42, those dreams absolutely require that I reach an advanced age. So bring it on, and I’ll work my way through my mental angst over being older than I feel.

Some days I look in the mirror and see every second of my life displayed in glaring detail on my face: gravity at work, bags under my eyes, those f’ing witch hairs that drive me to the brink. Others I look at my reflection and am surprised to find that I look pretty. There’s very little consistency and I’m never sure which version of me will appear. Is it my mind that skews what I see? It doesn’t seem to be solely mood-related. I can be having a great day and then catch sight of myself and think, “Yuck.” Conversely, I can be feeling shitty and then see myself and be shocked by the fact that I look great, especially for my age: glowing skin, relatively few wrinkles, eyebrows more or less on fleek. But all of this can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. So I never get the chance to build a solid sense of confidence, which sucks, but on the flip side I’m also not the depressed girl who never saw anything positive or appealing, even for a split second. The rotating image in the mirror might be tiring, but it’s better than it was. Speaking of tiring, I should edit this significantly. It feels like it should be a two-parter. It probably won’t, though.

Welcome back.