"So what's it like going through menopause while your kids are going through puberty?" asked a younger friend.
I pondered this for a moment. "Well, I thought that being an older first-time mom would be rough when the kids got to this age," I said. "Because between menopause and puberty, the three of us would be sharing a common hormonal plane of existence. But I have found that if we can all just stay focused and patient, it all works out."
"For example, I got up this morning as usual, wearing a different shirt than I'd started in the night before... a drier one. I headed downstairs, right to the coffee, because my daughter gets all angst-y when I pry my eyelids open with toothpicks. I took a sip and got right to making lunches. My kids are thankfully pretty predictable in this area; I spread the jelly on his roll and slapped on some turkey and wrapped it up, followed by her peanut butter and mustard.
"I then put his sandwich in her lunchbox and vice versa, which evened itself out when I put the lunchboxes in the wrong backpacks.
"The kids got on their buses and I got ready to work. I started by taking out the frozen cookie dough and turning on the oven. Since it takes about five minutes to preheat, I went to my computer to check Facebook. I saw the bills on my desk, realized they were due and got my wallet out of my purse. My cell phone tumbled out, dead, and I took it to the charging station on the counter next to the sink.
"First, of course, I had to move the breakfast dishes, which I loaded into the dishwasher. I started running the hot water before turning it on, because that's what I'm supposed to do (I remembered!). However, since it takes a few minutes to get hot, I used the time to gather my daughter's detritus from the counter into a pile to take upstairs. As I headed up to her room, I noticed some dirty clothes on her floor. I headed to the laundry baskets in my room, put her stuff down on my dresser, and emptied the baskets of the clean clothes that had evidently taken up residence in them.
"Passing by the kids' bathroom to deliver their clothes led me to the bathroom cleaner under the sink. While cleaning, I tried their acne medication to see if it worked better than mine and decided to swap. Heading back to my own bathroom, I realized I hadn't even gotten dressed yet. I set down the acne supplies on the dresser next to the girl's pile and pulled out some clothes. I threw my pajamas in the laundry basket.
"When I got the basket downstairs, I turned off the water running in the sink and went to the laundry room, sadly remembering that laundry soap was on my grocery list. I checked the clock and had time for the store, grabbed my purse and headed out. Halfway there I realized the list did not head out with me, but then again, neither did my wallet, which was on my desk with my bills. I headed home. I was thrilled to realize I was just in time to pick up my son from piano. Early, in fact.
"I arrived at the piano instructor's and idled in the driveway. After a minute his piano teacher came outside, looking a little panicked. 'He left,' she said. 'Didn't he make it home?' Then I realized I wasn't early at all, but in fact 20 minutes late. He called me at that moment and said he had walked.
"Once home, I looked around. The oven was on, the cookies not made. The bills lay on the desk, lonely and neglected, with the checkbook, unopened. The cell phone was not charged. The dishwasher was loaded but not turned on. The dirty laundry was still dirty, what with being out of laundry soap. My bedroom dresser was now cluttered with tween-girl-stuff and acne supplies. The boy was home, looking only somewhat miffed, God love him.
"So," I said, pausing for a moment. "What was the question?"