Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring training for a mid-life crisis

“This is going to be a tough birthday for me,” I said to my wife Kara last week, as her thirtieth birthday approached.

“For you? But it’s my birthday,” she said.

“I know, but I just realized that I’ll never get the chance to sleep with someone in their twenties, like, ever again,” I said, pausing for a moment to allow her time to lavish me with sympathy.

She replied, “Oh, you’ll survive. I haven’t slept with someone in their twenties for years.”

Besides her willingness to be seen with me in public, Kara’s quick wit is one of the things that attracted me to her in the first place. Fortunately, the old battle axe hasn’t lost her sense of humor.

As much as I might joke about Kara getting old despite the fact that she’s nearly three years my junior, the thirtieth birthday can be a tough cake to swallow. Few other birthdays, and certainly none of the ones preceding it, elicit quite the same amount of introspection.

“We never went to Scotland. Are we ever going to get there?” she asked yesterday.

Thirty seems to be the age when our friends who haven’t started families begin to wonder if they’re waiting too long, and those who have started families begin to wonder if they’re ever going to get to visit exotic places again, like Scotland or the movie theater.

“And what about seeing Billy Elliot on Broadway? It’ll be gone by the time we get around to it,” she said.

Of course, our restricted recreational activities these days are much more a function of parenthood than age. Ever since the movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman came out, you occasionally hear someone mentioning their Bucket List, the list of everything they want to do before they kick the bucket. I realized then that I was witnessing Kara going through her Minivan List: the list of everything she wanted to do before she began serving her ten-to-twenty-year sentence in a minivan.

When you’re parenting a nine-month-old, it becomes easy to imagine that, for the rest of your life, “fun” will begin with chirpy voices saying, “It’s learning time. Yippee!” when you push the big red button beside the Fisher-Price logo.

“Well, at least when we’re able to go out and have fun again, we’ll be eligible for senior discounts,” I comforted her.

Last weekend, we watched a bit on TV in which the comedian Louis C.K. noted that parents are better at appreciating the little things in life. He said that the walk around the car to the driver’s door after you’ve put the kid in the backseat is a miniature vacation, “like taking a Carnival Cruise.” That may be true, but I think Kara will be looking for something a little better than that for her birthday.

The roundness of a birthday number puts extra pressure on a spouse to come up with a good idea for a present. For my thirtieth, Kara booked us on a hot air balloon ride, which is going to be a tough act to follow. With a baby in the mix now, trying to think of something in that same vein is going to be difficult. Skydiving might be fun, but I’m not sure our Ergobaby carrier is safety rated for speeds approaching terminal velocity.

To get too disheartened about our inability to venture further beyond the house than Babies R Us, though, we’d have to completely overlook the time-honored tradition of peeling out of the grandparents’ driveway while a baby-laden carseat spins in place on the welcome mat. We may not get as far as Scotland this time, but a weekend is plenty of time to knock an item or two off the Minivan List.

You can blow out Kara Todd’s candles at


  1. Happy Birthday, Kara! I hope she has a great one. I wish I was only 30 ;o)

  2. I didn't mind 30 as much as 40. The number really doesn't matter though. You are only as old or as young as you feel. Some days I feel 100 and others I feel like I'm 15.

    I'd suggest a nice spa day for Kara. I'm sure every new mom would appreciate getting pampered while someone else worries about changing diapers and feedings.


  3. May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life's passing seasons
    bring the best to you and much peat on your farm.....umm.....a cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle.....oh well. It's the thought that counts, right? :)

    Happy Birthday to you, Kara, with all of God's blessings of good health, peace, and joy for many years to come!

  4. I also turn thirty this year. My wish: Massive. Food. Fight. That I don't have to clean up.