We Measure Our Years in Old Navy Hoodies.

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“I can see how much they’ve grown. I remember when those hoodies were big on them,” one of the boys’ toddler teachers remarked to me the other day.

Fall. I can remember too, and those hoodies were big on them last fall. I must have closed my eyes a moment too long, because suddenly E has an inch of belly exposed under his jacket and the fit is just a tad too snug. Parents often mention how time gets away from them, how time can be forgiving and deceitful all at once. You know what isn’t deceitful? Clothes. One day you’re swimming in an Old Navy hoodie and the next you have that inch of belly.

It doesn’t stop when you’re a child. You don’t have to be fashionable for your life to be measured in clothes. The prom dress turned sorority formal dress turned just another dress in my parents’ closet collecting dust. The graduation gown. The wedding dress. The skinny jeans I can wear and then can’t wear and then can and can’t wear again and again. The maternity pants with the panel that once fit snugly over my enormous bump but now hangs uselessly. We buy, we donate, we give away our years.

When I bought these 3T hoodies, I remember thinking they might last a couple of years this time. The boys tried them on, playing with the zipper as I pushed up the long sleeves and had plenty of hood room to cover their knit hats. Every year we buy new ones, generic hoodies in whatever color we happen to like at the time, knowing they will be thrown off in the mud and soaked in the rain and washed over and over until they fade. These are unimportant items, right? Not fashionable, not thought out or carefully selected. Except they are important, after all. When I look back at pictures from this winter, I see what must be hoodies shrinking smaller and smaller, because surely my babies can’t be getting bigger and bigger.

So in a few weeks I’ll pass along their latest Old Navy hoodies, like the ones that were passed along before, and measure out one more year, knowing one day too soon I’ll trade them in for the graduation gown, the college sweatshirt, the tux…

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New Office Decor

If you know me (and I assume, if you are actually reading this, you probably do know me personally), then you know that I don’t have a natural aptitude for anything domestic – cooking, cleaning, decorating, fashion. When I moved into my new office last month, I was met with a much larger blank canvas than I anticipated and nothing to fill it. I had a diploma frame and a couple of 12×18 pictures I thought would do the trick. Not so much.

What I immediately enjoyed was the natural flood of light into my office (very different from my previous prison-cell window) that allows me to keep the bright overhead lights turned off all day. I brought in a little lamp to use as needed, but otherwise I bathe in the natural light all day.

What I didn’t enjoy was the clinical, institutional feel to a lot of blank wall space. I considered purchasing a huge canvas to take up space on the wall I face, but ended up brainstorming (with the help of Pinterest) a wall collage. After collecting all of the pieces and drawing up a diagram, one of our awesome maintenance guys lined everything up perfectly for me. Here is the result:

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I love it! I also bought a plant (let’s see how long it lives – add “keeping plants alive” to my list of non-skills) and some other frames and personal items, so now after a month it’s starting to feel like my real office.

Sometimes I consider this potential problem when I think about us moving into a larger house. Sure, it would be nice to have the extra space, but will we lose some of the family togetherness we currently have because we are all squashed together all of the time? Will the blank canvas walls be intimidating and clinical to me?

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Love Letter to the Women’s Restroom

Dear Ladies’ Room of the General Administration Building,

What can I say? It’s been a great run. When we first met, I was a 26 year old kid embarking on a new career journey. After a hiatus of four years, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of sharing three stalls with thirty women again. My fears were quickly calmed when, soon after we were introduced, an elderly co-worker asked me to go get her a magazine as she blew up the designated pooping toilet.

I soon learned to maneuver around the rules of the road. As a courtesy, poopers should use the far stall (though I must say in times of tummyache, I most often fled to an adjacent building “safe haven” to blend in with the students). If someone was obviously in need of a dump, we should pee and wash hands as quickly as possible in order to allow privacy. Of course, there were always the ones living on the edge, those who dawdled and chatted and fixed their hair and makeup and took an hour to floss their teeth. Maybe this was their sanctuary, a place to get away from the grind of work. I’m sorry that I didn’t appreciate you more. To me, you were always just a place to pee.

That’s not quite true. You saw me through some heartache, some medical problems and a twin pregnancy during which I swear we met up every ten minutes. Most importantly, you were gracious enough to allow me to take a million baby bump selfies with one of your porcelain thrones photobombing in the background:

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Oh, ladies’ room. As I checked the keys to my new office, I went by the new restroom. It’s nice, with six stalls, pretty fixtures and new and modern conveniences. However, I want to let you know that it holds none of your charm. There are no mysteries behind the walls of this new granite-and-stainless-steel bathroom paradise. Maybe now I’ll never know why you had a couch from the 1980s located within your walls, and I’ll stop wondering who in the world would sit on it when it had been collecting toilet flushing particles for 30 years. Maybe I’ll never know who decided which locker belonged to which woman and why I never received one. Maybe I’ll never know why the middle stall autoflusher always managed to flush on me two or three times before I could escape. These are mysteries for a new generation of employees who you will soon meet. Be kind to them.

As I prepare to say goodbye and move into my new digs Monday, I want to let you know that even though I didn’t always appreciate you while we were together, I will not forget you. I can’t promise that you will never see me again, but I’ll be a visitor. You’ll never be my bathroom again. Keep up the good work.

Until we meet again,

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