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?