I turned 30 today. My 20s are officially over. Oh the 20s. Carefree years between college and the era of serious responsibility. Years to find yourself, travel the world, change your major, dabble in internships, and experiment with romance! At least that’s what the expectation seems to be, right?
And popular advice would say that whatever you do, don’t tie yourself down too soon. Don’t get married or start a family before you’ve had time to sow your wild oats. Because self-discovery, adventure, cocktails with young professionals, and EUROPE awaits!
I guess I could have followed that advice. I could have waited to get married until I had an established career and was financially stable. I could have traveled the world unattached and spent the past 10 years trying to figure myself out. But having already found the person I wanted to spend my life with…..waiting to jump into life together just seemed so unappealing.
Why not be poor college students together? Why not laugh over our air mattress and floor pillows because we were 21 and couldn’t afford any real furniture? Why not be together while we navigated the recession unemployment stress all our friends were having to deal with anyway? Why not fall in love all over again as we watched each other become parents?
So I didn’t follow the conventional advice. On my 30th birthday I’m looking back on almost a decade of marriage and more than seven years since that first positive pregnancy test that changed our lives forever.
When I graduated from college and my peers were weighing job options, vs. grad school vs. teaching English in Europe, I was working while my husband finished his degree. We were celebrating my second wedding anniversary and finding out we were expecting a baby boy.
So did I miss out on anything? I don’t think so.
I still got to experiment with grad school and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I still did plenty of “finding myself” during my twenties but I got to do it as I was encountering life as a wife and mother.
I discovered that I really COULD have three pregnancies of severe morning sickness (two with HG) and welcome three gorgeous babies before my 28th birthday and keep my sanity. And when I think about that, I feel so grateful and strong.
I discovered that nurturing my marriage to my best friend makes every sorrow more bearable and increases every joy.
I don’t think I missed out on finding my passions. I realized that I didn’t want to be a professor in academia like I once thought, but that I loved being a writer and could happily work from home while raising and homeschooling my three kids.
I haven’t been to Europe yet, but I just got to travel around most of the continental United States for almost two months this summer. Granted, I wasn’t unattached. There were three tiny humans in the backseat needing constant snacks and bathroom breaks. They also filled every moment with wonder, joy, and laughter.
“Is this as much fun as those crazy backpacking trips you took in college?” I asked my husband after a few weeks on the road. “Are you kidding? This is way more fun.” And you know what? It really was.
My six-year-old’s reaction at seeing a bison right next to our car at Yellowstone? Amazing. My three-year-old’s exclamations of “It’s so BEAUTIFUL!” as we passed into every new state? Wonderful. My two-year-old’s utter contempt for the Grand Canyon? Hilarious
And who says you can’t have adventures after tying the knot? We just quit jobs, sold our house, and relocated across the country to live on a farm and learn sustainable agriculture. For us, the excitement of life didn’t end at marriage, it began.
There are still a lot of things on my bucket list, but there’s plenty of time for them. I’m so glad I’m going to be crossing them off with the four people I love most in the world.
So in a manner of speaking, I guess you could say I skipped my twenties. I never moved to NYC to become an actress. I didn’t have a series of whirlwind romances. I didn’t go to Paris. But I don’t regret any of my choices for a second. No adventure I could have taken could compare to the adventure of the last ten years.
So if you’ve found the person worth spending your life with, why wait to start living it?
I really appreciated this post. I met my husband a month shy of my 23rd birthday and a year and a half later we were married. I didn’t consider 24 young, but a lot of others did because they felt the need to tell me how young I was before and after the marriage. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that my husband was also my first boyfriend and relationship. But I just knew he was who I wanted to share all my adventures with. Last week was the five-year anniversary of our first date and nothing has changed thus far. I can’t imagine feeling any different in two years when I turn 30! 🙂
Happy birthday, Haley!
I got married at 19 and had four kids before I turned 28, so, yeah, I kinda skipped that whole 20s thing too! But it’s all good…now I’m 37, and I’ve got kids who are 16, 14, 11, and 9, and I’ve been married to my bestie for 18 years. Lovely stuff.
(btw, the font I’m seeing here is super small…not sure if it’s a glitch or something?)
Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany says
Happy Birthday! I wholeheartedly agree with this post, though I did not do things this way. I didn’t even meet my husband until I was 26, and we didn’t get married until six years later! 🙂 I hope you had a lovely birthday!
I got married a month after I turned 23 and I had just graduated university…a year later we had our first baby and by 28 we had three kids. I think we missed out on some time alone prior to kids but I’ll be in my early 40’s when my kids are moving out so we’ll have time then! At 33 and 10 years of marriage and 3 kids under my belt I feel that although we may not have been able to go on lots of trips etc together we have accomplished a family!
I love many of those memoirs of women in their 30’s/40’s who go on some grand adventure… but all of them seem to be based on “I got divorced and then adventured!” I kept saying to my friends, where’s the great adventure story of a married woman with kids who gets to do that? Because it’s got to be out there!” (I just assumed we all were too busy to write it up). If you’re looking for a long-form book writing project… I suggest this!
But having already found the person I wanted to spend my life with…..waiting to jump into life together just seemed so unappealing.
I am so glad my husband and I didn’t wait to get married. It took us 5 years to get pregnant with our first child and during that time, even though I was feeling impatient, I was able to pay off all my student loans and be a SAHM when our first one finally arrived. Looking back on all that, God sure had the timing right. Glad I left that in His hands!
I am so excited to read about the next part of your story on the farm! Very exciting! Sending up prayers for your young family, Haley.
I’m looking forward to turning 30 next year, because I feel like being in my 30’s will more accurately represent where I am in my life: 5 years of marriage, 5 babies with 2 losses, a house that we bought, etc… I, too, wouldn’t change where I’m at for more “freedom.” I know who I am, and I feel a great sense of purpose being a wife and mother– even with the heartaches.
Renee G says
Something happened to your font;it is extremely small
Happy Birthday Haley! I got married just shy of my 30th birthday and only wish we had met sooner. Why wait to start your happily ever after!? Really enjoying reading your adventures.
Fr. Brian Hess says
I really appreciate this post. I entered seminary straight out of high school at 18 and was ordained a priest at 27. Sometimes people ask me if I wish I would have gone to college or enjoyed life a little first. What they don’t get is that I can’t imagine being happier than I am now. What they don’t get is that you can’t find happiness by ignoring God’s call in your life. I certainly didn’t spend my whole childhood just wanting to be a priest, but once God’s will is clear, pursuing it makes so much more sense than just wandering.
Ally | The Speckled Goat says
“You can’t find happiness by ignoring God’s call in your life.” AMEN!
Marie S. says
It’s great to see your perspective, Father. Not wanting to wait certainly applies to any vocation. I had the blessing of getting engaged right around the time a co-worker/friend of mine got accepted into seminary. We had fun being excited about finally knowing what God was calling us to be. I had been working as an engineer for 9 years when I got married, he for 4 years… so neither exactly fits with many of the ages mentioned here… but when you know, you know – and you want to get started!
Cathy K. says
Loved this! I got married at 19, and had my first child at 20. We will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary next week, and I wouldn’t change doing it that way at all. There have been ups and downs, but having someone there with me through it all – multiple someones if you count our children – has truly been a blessing. There’s something to be said about “growing up together” that I believe makes a couple stronger.
What a great perspective you have! I was married at 25 to my college sweetheart and had our first baby, a son, at 26. I finished my Master’s just a week before our son was born. I, too, gave up my dreams of working at a university to stay home and homeschool our kids. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. Last year, we sold our house in the suburbs to buy a mini farm on the outskirts of town. So instead of working with students at university, my day consist of gardening, hen care, reading, dishes, and changing the occasional diaper. And I have to say, it’s better than I could have imagined.
While many of our friends are still single or just getting married, we will celebrate 9 years in February and have 3 fantastic kids, ages 7, 5, and 2. I have no regrets about settling down early and starting a family. Adventures with kids are way more fun!
I have to tell you I came across your blog after Facebook recommended your road trip post to me. We did a really similar, but shorter, road trip last year from MI to Idaho and back. We visited Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore , and many other stops along the way. All with a 6, 4, and one year old. It is still one of my favorite trips ever. I am really jealous you got to see the Ingalls homestead!!
Happy 30th! You are about to entire an epic decade. I am so happy to be following along.
Ally | The Speckled Goat says
I’m right there with you. No kids, but we did get married at 23 and 24, which apparently is considered “young.”
Every once in awhile, we see a movie or a TV show that touches on adults dating (clubs and bar scenes and whatever), and I think, “I am so glad that I missed that.” College sweethearts for the win. There’s something so freeing in knowing that I’m in this marriage thing for good!
My husband and I started dating in high school. We married at 21 and 23 respectively. We have had 4 babies and just celebrated our 10yr anniversary in May. I have never regretted growing up into adults together. 🙂
Angie | Real Life at Home says
We got married when I was 19 and my husband was a month shy of 21. I had kids at the ages of 22, 24, and 27. Your post made me smile so much! 🙂 It was full of so many of the truths in our life.
Happy birthday! 🙂
Amen amen! Since marrying after I graduated at 23, we’ve moved 8 times, my husband got his bachelors and masters degrees, we traveled to 6 countries together, lived in Indonesia nearly two years, adopted a Ugandan child and gave birth to another! I am Sooooooo glad I didn’t miss out on this adventure by believing the lie that I was too young for it! Love this, Haley!
Justine Rauch says
Happy Birthday Hailey! I love this post. I got married at 23 and before our 2nd anniversary we’ll have 2 little ones. It’s hard not to think about what I’ve missed out on, especially when I see our old friends having tons of adventures. This is an AWESOME reminder that the adventure doesn’t end with marriage or kids. I’m glad we didn’t wait to get married for the sake of “20’s freedom.” As Harry says to Sally, “When you know who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Cheers to your turning 30! 😀
Beth (A Moms Life) says
I didn’t meet my husband until I was 25 and we didn’t get married until I was 30. My only regret is that we didn’t get married a few years earlier. But he wasn’t quite ready so what are you going to do? …sigh….
We have a similar story– you’re just five years ahead of me. My husband and I got married at 21, pregnant at 22, had our little boy at 23, and now, at 25, we are expecting our second. We’ve had our share of stresses and sicknesses and losses but so much joy and love with all this life we’re living. It’s encouraging to see what things look like just a little further down the road 🙂 Thank you for sharing! (Btw, your blog is one of the only ones I follow- I love it! Not to mention I share your Laura Ingalls obsession!)
I was married when I was 20. It took us several years to have the first little one, but I felt like I skipped the college experience, since I lived at home my freshman year, was engaged my sophomore year, and married those last two years, living off campus with my husband who had already graduated. He also ran into this, being married when he was in grad school. Life is just different. We wouldn’t trade in those first years for anything. They were hard and beautiful.
Happy Birthday! Eat something delicious!
Love this post (and your attitude!). I’m 18, and the people around me who are content to just laze around and not really pursue anything…ugh, I just don’t understand. Glad for people like you!
I got married at 22 and had our first (honeymoon) baby at 23. The last nine years of our life have been more challenging than I ever imagined but also wonderful. I do occasionally struggle with the what ifs, mostly in regards to travel. I have major wanderlust. We do a fair amount of travel with the kids but there are so many places I want to go and I don’t want to wait! I think about how we could have done more before having kids. But then I look at my friends who waited to have kids and so few of them traveled or worked at their dream job or got themselves in a superior financial situation due to their “waiting.”
I always laugh at those articles that talk about the “Things I’ve Learned to Accept in my 40s” because I was pretty much there at 30, if not earlier.
Sarah C. says
I got married at 24 and had my first child at 25. She was a surprise honeymoon baby and when we found out we were expecting, our dreams of traveling crumpled before our eyes. I’m now 27 and just had my second child and we have actually done a decent amount of traveling with our kids too. Unfortunately, most of my close friends from high school who are still single or childless are working their dream job and/or traveling extensively. It doesn’t bother me, but I know it bothers my husband, who works hard at his steady job in the same career field and makes significantly less money. I do know that we are much wiser about how we choose to spend our money versus those friends though.
First off – Happy Birthday!!! I bet 30 is going to be spectacular. 🙂
And so much yes to this whole blog post. We were married at 22 and had plenty of people questioning our readiness and motives. I seriously had a family member ask if we were getting married so young “because of sex”. Oh so awkward. And no.
But like you said, when you are confident in your vocation and know that you’ve found the one you’re supposed to marry, why wait if you don’t have to? We may have “missed out” in the world’s eyes, but honestly are blessed beyond compare.
I was a bride at 19, and had our first child at 21. we are coming up on 14 years of marriage, 5 kids and are more in love than ever. People encouraged me to not get married so young but to instead date more guys, experience life, career, find myself first…all that would have left me more fickle and confused and selfish. I’m glad we married when we did. I wouldn’t change a thing!
Happy Birthday! What an encouraging read. Like most of your commenters, I too married ‘early’ at 22 (with a fair share of nay sayers). We had our son at 23 and now we are 24. My husband and I had a similar philosophy of ‘why be poor separately when we can be poor together?’. The majority of my friends from high school and college are doing the whole travel around the world thing, so it is really inspiring to read about your family’s recent adventures! Our dream is to also have a self sustaining family farm…ahh one day. Good luck on your new digs in Texas!
p.s. How awesome to share your birthday with the Blessed Mother?!
I so relate to this! Most (all) of my friends are still living the going out/traveling/professional person lifestyle so it’s really nice to have some validation of my life choices!
Welcome to your 30s, Haley! Thanks for this post. I think the talking heads of our society make you feel like a pariah if you get married young, have children young, and LIKE IT. Kudos to you for your cross-country trip with littles!! Like you said, it is not impossible do to those bucket-list things you are “supposed to do” when you are foot-loose and fancy-free, it is just DIFFERENT. Not bad, just different. And I agree, I have had just as much success (probably more) “finding myself” within my family life as I did my few single years in my twenties!
Ronni @ The Screenwriter's Wife says
As everyone else has said, great post! We got married at 24/25, but living in Los Angeles, that was pretty unheard of. So for the better part of our 20s, even though we were married, my husband and I still acted like we were in our 20s, carefree and young. We put off having kids because I guess that’s what we thought we were supposed to do; we were already crazy enough for getting married “so young”, why have kids so soon, right? We started trying for kids anyway when I was 28 and I’m so glad we did then because we had trouble and I didn’t get pregnant until I was 30. So here I am now at 34, with two kids and about to celebrate my 10 wedding anniversary – yet I’m still surrounded by local peers who are only just now starting this part of their lives (or as I’m unfortunately starting to see more frequently, divorce and start over again).
I sometimes wish that I would have started a family even sooner and become a mom in my 20s. I wish I would have started this part of my life – my family life – sooner. I almost feel like I wasted much of my latter 20s and didn’t really begin to live and understand who I was until I became a mom in my 30s.
One thing I don’t at all regret though is getting married in my mid 20s. I am glad that I never wasted time floating in-between non-serious, fun relationships. I’m thankful that I’ve had so much time of my life invested in my husband and our marriage…and that I have so much more of my life to spend with him too.
My post will sound a lot like these others, but I just wanted to be one more who piped up! I’ve known my husband since I was 14–high school sweethearts here! We got married a month after I turned 21 and just two weeks after I finished college. Lots of people asked me if I was sure I wanted to get married so young, but I told them I found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, so why should we wait any longer? 🙂 We spent a lot of time just the two of us while my husband went to college, so we did get to travel a bit and just have a lot of fun together. When our son was born, I was 27 and my husband was 28, so we had plenty of time to grow and learn about life together. Now, our kids are 8, 5, and 1 and we’re approaching our 15th anniversary. It’s been a fun and sometime tumultuous life together and I really can’t say I would change a thing!
FWIW, roadtripping cross country with a bunch of small children is definitely for someone in their 20’s. 😉 I am 40 and wiped out when I take my brood to walmart, lol. I am enjoying your adventures second-hand…and would love to travel cross country when my gang is a little older!
I turn 30 in a couple days. I just celebrated my 11th wedding anniversary last month. I am mom to four amazing children ages 6, 7, 8, & 12. I wouldn’t have done it differently. Sure it hasn’t always been easy but i already have had so many amazing experiences with my family amazing nd can’t wait to see what the future holds
Christine D says
Beautiful story! I am a big fan of not waiting, my husband and I just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary this year and we were 19 & 20 when we first met, engaged four months later, married eight months following! It has been the best decision of my life! He is my best friend in the world, we have five kiddos together and our second child is getting married next month, she’s twenty by the way, we are thrilled for her! We are now forty-one years young and have two kids all grown up, we will likely be empty nesters before we are fifty. Having children was icing on the cake for us. I hope this encourages someone to take the leap of faith!
It seems that you (and the many commenters above!) have been unusually blessed to have found the person you would marry so early in life. How beautiful!
Don’t forget that many people are not that lucky, and find themselves single in their 20’s by circumstance, rather than by choice. However, that’s not to say that the single season has any less meaning or value. God’s plan for each of us is as unique as we are.
Singlehood, marriage– “life” neither begins nor ends with these events, they are simply different chapters!
Thank you Kay for saying this. It’s how I felt after reading this, but you said it so graciously.
Oddly enough, these two realities can combine. I was 21 when I married my husband, he was 31.
I see that Kay above has already expressed so beautifully much of what I came here to say. I’ve been a long-time reader and admirer of your blog, and have always longed for the kind of life you’ve described: meeting, marrying, and raising a family with someone fresh out of college, and cultivating together a simple but beautiful life. It’s only since suffering through a broken engagement at 25 that I have finally, at 26, come to a parallel conclusion: if you haven’t been so blessed as to find the person you’re called to spend the rest of your life with, why wait to start living it fully on your own? Whether you’ve met the one you’re called to marry or not, it’s never too early (nor too late) to embrace the adventure of a life lived for God and for others. Whether that looks like marrying at 19 and devoting your 20’s to raising your young family, or moving to an economically depressed neighborhood right out of college and devoting your 20’s to loving and educating other people’s children in an underprivileged school simply depends on your individual call. If you’re blessed to find your spouse at 20, rejoice in the chance to marry young and build a beautiful life with him. If you’re blessed NOT to find that future spouse until later in life, rejoice in the chance to devote your youth and energy to God’s vulnerable and forgotten children with a freedom that you may not have once you have a family of your own. There are many beautiful and fruitful ways to “skip” the self-indulgence our culture encourages in your 20’s; whether you’re living for your spouse and children or living for the students/customers/clients/community members you serve as a single person, as long as you’re using your 20’s to live for God and for others, you’re “skipping” them beautifully!
Kimberly Miller says
My husband and I were high school sweethearts, together since we were sixteen, engaged in high school and married at eighteen. That was five and a half years ago, and we just recently welcomed our first child. I’m an undergraduate college student, and he is working in the medical field. Every day is an adventure, and we love it!
Hi Haley! I’m so glad I found your blog, you seem such a cool and down-to-earth girl 🙂
I really enjoyed this article, so I wanted to share it with my readers as well, and I included it in my Weekly Reads blog series (you can find it here: http://www.bloggerissa.com/weekly-reads-4/). It’s a fresh perspective and I think you are right, being with the ones you love is more important than anything else.
Keep up the good work! Kisses
Aw, thanks so much and thanks for the share 🙂
Stacey D. says
Yes, yes, and yes! Married at 19, child at 20. I didn’t expect my life to work out that way, but I cannot regret it. I didn’t have a wild, reckless decade in my 20’s, but I had plenty of adventure. And it’s still going! We recently left our life in the military, started renovating a 110-year old farmhouse and are planning our homestead on 5 acres!
Yes!! Married at 20, graduated from university two years later while 18 weeks pregnant with TRIPLET daughters, who were followed in three short years by baby brother. Moved three different times, in three different states. Raised our daughters while my husband went through (and graduated from) pharmacy school (the girls were born during his first week of classes). I’m 27 now, but I suppose I’ve never truly been in my 20s? But I wouldn’t trade a single experience for all the “freedom” I’ve passed up!
Happy Birthday!! Awesome post as well. I met my fiancé the spring semester of my freshman year of college on a retreat, and I was dating someone at the time, so we became friends. When my relationship had ended ( less than a month later), I was so upset and wanted to take a long time just focusing on my friendships. Six months went by and my friendship with my now fiancé became stronger and stronger. I basically left everything up to God for fear of getting hurt again and after 3 years of dating he proposed (which was 6 months ago), and we’re getting married in early June.
I just graduated with my undergrad degree, and will be finishing up my Masters degree three weeks before the wedding. Future hubby is looking for a job right now too, but as my campus chaplain says, once you know your vocation, why wait? And as I’ve read in the above comments, it’s better to be poor together than apart. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on my 20s by getting married 3 weeks after my 23rd birthday, and him newly 24. We are so excited for this adventure and whatever children that will be brought into the world !!
I also understand the other perspective that Kay brought up. My future sister- in-law is 26 and single, and spends time traveling for work and spending time with her loved ones. She knows her vocation is married life, and is waiting patiently for the next stage of her life while still enjoying the one she is currently in! She is certainly not wasting her 20s either!
It’s awesome for me to see things from both perspectives!!
Hayley, you and your husband are goals!!!!!!! Thanks for all that you do for your readers. You’re Supermom!!!!!
Melissa D says
Yes yes yes! LOVE this post! I’ve been trying to say this same exact thing for years… but so many want to “play” first. I met my hubby 1 week after graduating college. We just knew we supposed to get married. From dating to marriage: 9 months. And I (surprise) got pregnant on our honeymoon. And we just kept having babies! I’m now 36 years old, been married 13 years, and I’m currently expecting baby #7. Yes, it’s been a whirlwind… yes, it’s been crazy… but it’s also been super fun… it’s been an incredible adventure… I got to share all this with my best friend (hubby). And I DID “find myself”, who I am as a Christian and as a woman. Figured it out while doing the hard work of life. We get moments of play here and there. It’s scheduled. But it’d be scheduled if we had jobs, too. And because we homeschool, when we travel we turn it into an edu experience. When we’re old and empty nesters, we’ll have time and money to knock off the rest of the things on our bucket list.
I feel like we could be great friends. I married my husband and the ripe age of 20 and I am about to turn 30 in January. We have 3 beautiful girls ages 7, 5, and 3 and I also had HG during my pregnancies (seriously horrible!). I wouldn’t trade my choice to marry and have children young for anything. I am going back to college now to be a nurse, but hope to work part-time in the future so I can homeschool my children. I think one of the greatest gifts and adventures I have in life has been finding the love of my life young and navigating through all the twist and turns life brings with him. Thanks for sharing this!