Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birthday Eve

white hydrangea, flowers, birthday eve, vase

When my husband and I first started dating ten years ago (!), one of the ice-breaker-get-know-you questions we asked each other was "What age do you feel like you are?" At twenty-one, my (then-future) husband admitted that he still thought of himself as a seventeen year-old. And in so many ways, that is his age-at-heart. He's just a big kid who loves to play games and have fun and be care-free.

Which is a nice balance, because despite being a freshly-minted twenty-year-old, I told him at the time that I'd always felt more like a thirty-year-old. And in many ways, that was pretty accurate. I've always been a bit of an old soul, more comfortable around adults as a teenager than my own peers, more responsible or mature than others. And the older and older I've gotten, the more and more comfortable I've felt in my own skin.

So it's actually a very nice feeling that tomorrow, my outside age will finally match my age-at-heart. Yep, I'm turning thirty!

I know our culture tends to worship youth and a lot of people dread this particular birthday and the prospect of aging. And yes, I will admit that I've noticed quite the difference between being pregnant at 25 and being pregnant at 30 (I keep wondering if my pregnancies are really getting harder, or if it's just that I'm getting older, and I think a lot of it is the latter). In the past few months I've found my first official grey hairs (two so far, though there might be more lurking in less noticeable places), and those lines on my face are slowly getting deeper and deeper. But I can honestly say I don't mind so much, not because aging is fun, exactly, but because I really do just feel comfortable with this age, with this body, and with who I am. I might be singing a different tune as I approach forty, but at least for now, I feel like I'm exactly where I want to be.

(Side tangent: Do you remember that movie 13 Going On 30 with Jennifer Garner? I remember watching that at some point many years ago and kind of being horrified at this vision of what being 30 looked like: there were far more club parties and far less stability and maturity than I imagined from adulthood. Thankfully, my own life approaching 30 does NOT involve late nights dancing at clubs or co-workers that still behave like they are in high school. I am such a fuddy-duddy, and really just fine with that.)

I thought my last day as a twenty-something might be a good day for a little reflection on this past decade of my life, and a good time to look forward to the future.

As far as life-dreams and bucket-list items, this was a fairly productive decade for me.

- I met and married the man of my dreams.
- I became a mother and will end the decade with a respectable 2.5 children.
- I earned two degrees (and financially supported my husband through his own two degrees).
- I traveled, not quite as much as I would've liked, but to some great places including France, Mexico, India, Nepal, Peru, and Bolivia.
- I also traveled to at least a dozen new-to-me states, the most exciting probably being Hawaii and Florida.
- I had the chance to live in some wonderful places, including Provo, Chicago, Houston, and Kansas City (if you count the summers we lived with my in-laws). And Paris, for a two-month study abroad.
- I taught middle-school English for a year.
- I worked my first, official 9 to 5 office job, and liked it a surprising amount.
- I started this blog.

That's just a brief and incomplete snapshot, but it was a good decade for me. However, many of the most significant parts of this past decade can't really be listed out or checked off like this. They are harder to define and characterize, but this has certainly been a decade of growth. I've learned a lot about myself and developed skills and talents I didn't know I had. Some of these things I've learned through the process of building a strong marriage. Even bigger were the lessons I learned (and continue to learn) through that terrible refining process of becoming a new mother. Still other things I've learned through working on my degrees, or navigating adult friendships, or simply observing the world around me and trying to process and respond and shape my life into something good and meaningful.

In many, many ways, I like the person I am becoming. I think I am more open-minded, more accepting, and more forgiving than I used to be. I hope I am a little bit more kind, a little bit more loving, and a super lot more patient (motherhood will do that to a person). I know I am more disciplined and better at sticking to habits that make me happy. There is a lot of joy in my life, a lot of blessings that I am grateful for and learning to appreciate better. I am very, very happy with where I am right now in life.

But, there is always room for more growth, and as I look forward to this next decade, there is still so much more I want to do and to become. On the life bucket-list side of things, there are a few things I'm looking forward to:

- Adding another kid or two (at least the one cooking now, and then maybe another one after a bit of a break, we'll see). I will celebrate the birthday of my youngest child for the rest of my life not just for his or her sake, but for the sheer joy of knowing that is the last day I will ever have to be pregnant in this life.
- Working on that Ph. D. thing. It's going to take me half the decade or more to earn it, so I hope I enjoy it.
- Becoming home owners (feels like an adult thing to do, one of these years).
- More travel! We're already working on the plans for our next big trip (ten year anniversary, I'm looking at you), but there's so much more of the world I hope to get to see this decade.

But there are so many of those other things I want to keep working on too, so many other ways I need to keep growing. I still have so much to learn about love and friendship and service, so much more to learn about kindness and generosity, faith and goodness. There is so much knowledge to be sought, wisdom to be gained, so many lessons to be learned. I don't know exactly what this next decade will hold for me. There may be trials and heartache, hard things and hard years. But I also anticipate a lot of joy and peace and many wonderful things. I hope I can take advantage of both and continue to grow, to evolve, and to come out on the other side an even better person than I am today.

Here's to my thirties! I'm really looking forward to them.


  1. Welcome to the best decade! (I say that not having actually experienced life at 40+) As much as people talk about dreading 30 and the loss of their youth, pretty much everyone I know agrees that being in your thirties is awesome. It's the decade of being comfortable with who you are.

    1. Thanks! I've heard that about the thirties, and I'm looking forward to it!

  2. Happy birthday!!! That sounds like a TON of travel to me, so I'd say you're doing awesome with that goal! And I agree with Melanie--the older I get, the more content I am with owning my interests and passions (although getting one year older each year IS really hard for me to deal with mentally--not sure why). Anyway, hope you have a truly fantastic day!!