Posted by: Hannah | 01/24/2012


This morning in the shower I thought about turning 40, because my dear friend Bon has a birthday today. And also because a girl I went to high school with died last week after a short illness, and I hadn’t seen her since graduation. In my head she was still eighteen, a badass who didn’t much care about school but had a keen sense of the ridiculous. I logged onto Facebook and there was the notice of her memorial service and suddenly sixteen years passed in the space between heartbeats.


A new baby gives you time to think. Maybe more time than you want, if things aren’t going well. Even the very best newborns won’t sleep more than three hours at a stretch. Baby G goes to sleep around 8pm or so, and I take that two-hour block to tidy up, to fold laundry and pack lunches and watch TV and browse through the internet. He gets up again between 10 and 11; I nurse him while chatting with hubby or watching the news.

Sometime between 2 and 3 he gets up again, and that feeding is the eerie one, the one that feels as if he and I are the only two people on earth. I keep the lights dim so as not to wake us. We sit in the living room because he doesn’t like to nurse if I’m lying down, and outside the big window the streetlight shines on the empty road. Even the pets are sleeping. Part of me just wants to be in bed, but a larger part is at peace with this baby, peace in a way I never had with the other two, and maybe it’s fleeting and in a month I’ll be a sleep-deprived mess but for right now, I actually find myself almost enjoying the middle-of-the-night interlude.


I won’t be 40 for another six years.

In six years, Baby G will be the same age that Harry is now. Gap-toothed smile, reading chapter books, picking up the rental DVD of “Thor” and asking how it was only to have me realize that he could have watched it with us, that he doesn’t need to be protected so much anymore.

In six years I’ll have one kid in middle school and two in elementary. I won’t have the dayhome anymore. I don’t know what I’ll be doing instead.

In six years we’ll only have six years to go on our mortgage.

When I was in my 20s, turning 40 was something that happened to other people. Hell, the year I turned 20 my mother turned 40. Forty is a mom age. Although I’m a mom of three it’s taken some time to be comfortable with that identity. In my head it’s not only my high school classmates who are still 18, it’s me. I would dye my hair purple right now if you presented me with an hour-long block of time to do it in. I still don’t moisturize because that’s something for grown-ups (and my skin is starting to tell the tale, sadly).

In six years, my skin may look like a handbag.


And so while I nurse, I think. I think about where I’m going, what I want for my kids, if we will plant a garden this summer, if we should try camping for more than one night at a time. I realize that for maybe the first time in my life there isn’t anything I’m missing. I listen to Baby hum while he drinks and I feel blessed.



  1. Okay, the best bit is the “only 6 years to go on our mortgage”. Oh, to be so close to freedom!

    • For which we can thank my dear departed father in law. He made sure his adult children were looked after. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank him for the gift of not worrying about keeping a roof over our heads.

  2. I loved that time too.
    I’m the same age as you, but I’m not. If judging age by that of our children I’m older than Bon. I call it Mom years.
    I can’t think what 6 yrs will bring for me. I get stuck. Not that I think 40 is that far off, I just get stuck like there is a truck in the way that I can’t see around. Not sure what that means, if anything…

    • Mom years. Yes! It is strange because you and I have all the same cultural touchstones and memories but then you talk about your R choosing his courses for high school and my head twirls around on my neck gently.

  3. How lovely. I am 41 (and a half). I still don’t feel grown up. But I’m getting more okay with all the things I’m not and all the things I am all the time.

    • Yes, this, exactly.

  4. When I heard the news about Sarah last weekend it brought on similar thoughts. The way you picture someone you haven’t seen in so long looking the same as they did back then, then hearing about them passing away puts time and mortality into sharper focus, for sure.

    Good post. And for the record, even though I’ve seen you many times over the years in between, you’re still 18 in my head, too.

    • Yup, in my head you’re still 18. Hell, in my head you still have long hair until I remind myself that you cut it off, oh, 15 years ago. The mind is a funny thing, isn’t it?

  5. This really reminded me of when the boys were babies and middle of the night feelings just had the strangest vibe to them…and you said it exactly, like we were the only two people in the world. I used to turn on the TV and watch reruns of Mad About You because otherwise I felt like I was in some sort of twilight zone.

    • For me it’s Storage Wars if the feeding is long or he can’t get back to sleep right away.

  6. This was lovely writing, Hannah.

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