My aging cat and I both take thyroid medication now, except hers is supposed to slow her thyroid down while mine is supposed to goose mine into action. Probably that’s not a hugely accurate description of how they work but you get the idea: my thyroid is apparently kinda sluggish and needs a swift kick in the rear, while hers is stuck in overdrive.

My own thyroid medication is a teeny little pill that I’m supposed to remember to take a full 30-60 minutes before I drink coffee in the morning. In theory this doesn’t seem a major logistics issue: I wake up early to pee every single day of my blessed life, and I leave the pills in a little bowl on my nightstand. You’d think it would be quite easy to remember to take one when I go back to bed, and YET.

Meanwhile, Callie’s medication is a transdermal deal that comes in a little clicky pen. The pen disperses a dose of medication that looks sort of like a blorp of sunscreen, which I must then apply to the inside of her ear twice a day.

The INSIDE of her EAR, yes. This is what I chose in lieu of giving her a pill, because we already have to periodically give her pills for flea medication and that is a Whole Entire Thing. So twice a day I’m coming at her with this weird wet willie action (she tolerates it but her face is always like I DO NOT CONSENT) and I’m always wondering if my brief skin contact with her meds is undoing the effects of my own tiny pill.

I paid the hojillion trillion bajillion dollars to have her blood re-tested again recently and the vet called to tell me that her thyroid numbers looked a little better but not much. She wanted to know if I felt like she was getting the full dose each time, and it’s just like, dude, I have no idea. I’m doing my best to shmear the ear but there’s no definitive method of verifying success. If I had to run a QA department on cat-ear dosing I’d have a hell of a time establishing the benchmarks, you feel me?

She’s too skinny, I feel too heavy. Both of us have fur that has seen better days. Probably we could each benefit from a better medication regimen. But what can I say, we are muddling along the best we can.

The boys are both in high school now. Riley does the driving; our daily pickups and dropoffs have come to an end.

The first morning they left I watched from the window and thought about how absolutely insane it felt to have one teenage child solo-transporting the other, just motoring off in a 5500-lb machine that definitely has no self-driving capabilities. It’s a milestone that I personally think delivers strong coming-home-from-the-hospital-with-a-newborn vibes: how is this even LEGAL?

Our new morning routine is fairly pleasant: John makes breakfast, everyone does their various getting-ready things, and when it’s time for the kids to leave for school we all hug goodbye.

I guess I can recognize now when we are breathing rarefied air: that goodbye hug is everything. You know how sometimes when you hug your kids you’re trying to communicate so many different things at once? I love you, be safe, I hope you’re happy, I can’t believe how grown you are, I wish this wasn’t all going by so fast. I feel like every morning I get the chance to imprint my love-notes onto them as best I can, my arms around their too-big shoulders.

Parenting continues to be a never-ending series of firsts, even seventeen years in, except now there are so many memories mixed into everything. I get soggy with perspective sometimes: like, wait, I still remember holding a tiny starfish hand as we walked to the first day of kindergarten.

But onward we go. Learning along the way, all of us.

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