I feel very preoccupied with aging these days, which feels about as interesting as being preoccupied with the weather but I am finding myself more interested in the weather too, along with what types of birds are currently on the feeder (those tiny ones with the grey backs and pointy beaks!) and the time of day the mail arrives, so I guess it’s all one big magical potpourri of being a NOT-YOUNG person.

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing more boring than hearing someone talk about how they’re experiencing the exact same passage of time as every single other thing on the planet, but what can I say: I’ve never been almost-46 before and I find it all very fascinating-slash-depressing.

My role as a mother keeps changing and while I’m still pretty deep in it with Dylan and there’s plenty of ferrying around and laundry and worrying and meal-serving going on I can see with clarity how this whole thing was time-limited from the getgo and everything we’ve done and still do has the end goal of sending these boys out on their own and that’s going to happen so soon, really. Then I will still be their mom, I will always be their mom, but there will be this giant pie-slice from my life that I will need to fill, and the house will be so very quiet.

I think a lot about what is meaningful to me these days and try to realign myself to focus on those things rather than being forever caught up in what I think I should be thinking about, and that seems like one of the gifts of aging: you have all these years of perspective, and the less you have left the more you value what you still have. The nuthatches on the suet, so bright-eyed and round-bellied, coming and going in a great collective flurry: they are a little daily poem, one gift among so many.

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“John. John. John,” John’s brother Joe was walking hurriedly alongside John’s truck as John backed down our driveway, angling his way into the parking bay in the shop. “JOHN,” Joe hissed as soon as the engine turned off. “There’s a LADY IN YOUR HOUSE.”

We had just returned from a raucous dinner at a teppanyaki restaurant, the kind where a chef cooks everything in front of you and periodically tries to squirt sake directly into your mouth from a squeeze bottle. (“Heyyy mama,” the guy had pleaded with me, waving the bottle enticingly, while I tried to convey with a polite head shake that I may be a disaster on several fronts but I’ve stayed away from alcohol since 2013 so let’s not reset the drunk clock with a tablespoon of cheap rice wine which was sure to land directly on the surface of my eyeball anyway). The ruse to getting Joe back to our place was that I had made a New Year’s dessert to share, while in reality we had planned a surprise birthday party for him. The woman in question was his mother-in-law, who was trying to sneak quietly in the front door. “JOHN THERE’S A LADY,” Joe insisted, so confused as to why we were unfazed, while John mumbled that it was probably our cleaning person, which reminded me of the steamed hams skit on The Simpsons (“The aurora borealis!? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within your kitchen!?) and by the time we finally got Joe inside he had the look of someone who wasn’t sure if everyone else had gone crazy or if he was heading into an intervention, but in the end he was most definitely surprised.

It was the perfect midpoint to the evening, really, because there were hours to go before midnight still, and Joe’s wife had made an insanely delicious ice cream cake, and everyone eventually was so hopped up on sugar that we made it to the ball drop without a problem. It was just our foursome, cuddled on the couch together and watching Ryan Seacrest do his thing and John and I marveling at how we were officially old enough not to recognize the various young celebrities on the show.

Earlier in the night we had watched a slideshow from Apple’s Photos app, the little musical number it will automatically create from an album, and our year went flying by nearly as fast as it truly did seem to. There we were skiing, in Disneyland, on the Rogue River, at the cabin, in our backyard, at school, playing sports, at the Grand Canyon.

“We have a really good life, you guys,” I said, and Riley said, “We really do,” and I know life isn’t a cherry-picked set of photos and in between those smiling moments there were plenty of not-so-great ones, but everyone is healthy and my kids seem pretty happy and I’m not sure I could ask for anything better in 2020.

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