Do you ever feel like the rotting avocado on your counter? There it is. So promisingly fresh. So deceptively OK. Until it’s taco Tuesday and what should be perfectly supple suddenly gooshes in your hand.

Let me be candid. I’m a 40-year-old, homeschooling mom. I’ve come to terms with my lumpy body, a less than airbrushed complexion, and muscles that look about as firm as that dead avocado. But my mind? Man, I was hoping to keep that one around and intact.

When my five kids (in six years) were babies, I digressed from collegiate dissertations to goo-goo ga-ga. Can you say mental mush? I lost so many vocabulary words those first 10 years, I was sure my marbles were going with them.

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Now I have three teenagers: 13, 14, and newly 16. I love this phase. Truly, I do.

The challenge is: I’m not only expected to have a working vocabulary but one that functions at light speed. Not a day goes by I don’t have at least three people talking to me at any given moment. And while mommy can, and usually is, doing at least 20 things at once, holding three autonomous conversations simultaneously brings me to the brink of mommycide.

I begin pointing and grunting like I was born in some Carpathian cave. If you catch me on a particularly intense day, you’ll even hear some percussion. Something I like to call the finger snap. Altogether, it’s like my own private dialect, but somehow my kids can translate it instinctively. Such wonderful little linguists they’ve become.

Today was one of those days. The 13-year-old couldn’t get his laptop to work. The 16-year-old needed her crochet project saved. And my 14-year-old was frantically requesting a consultation in regard to his lunch options. Which, after some Neolithic sign language, led me to the kitchen . . . where the avocados sat, in all their warty glory.

No matter how unsavory the outside looks from a distance, there’s always that optimism that the inside flesh will be vibrant and smooth, a dense fudge of nutrition. And I thought, Wow, doesn’t that hit the mark? Getting squashy at 40, but hoping beyond hope something inside is still worth sparing from the trash can. Worth cultivating. Worth more spiritual nutrition to someone than that of a proverbial tootsie roll.

So, here’s to us middle-aged moms, trying desperately to make it to Fat Tuesday with at least some of our omega threes still kicking.

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We are NOT dead yet! We still have stuff to contribute to this smorgasbord of a world. Don’t give up, sister avocado heads. It’s the hard neon beauties that people can’t palate.

The truth is, we’re just now becoming ripe.

Jess Litterell

My husband and I have five in the hive, three of which are teens. We homeschool and eat. When I’m not busy doing what I should, I do what I can. And today, that means writing to you.