This month I turned 31 and birthdays always make me want to pause and reflect on life. Last year in the midst of moving across the country I was too busy to think, so I’m doing my reflecting this year. Here’s a true confession: I was NOT expecting turning 30 last year to be a big deal. But honestly, it kinda was.
My identity is shifting. I’m no longer the super young mom that gets asked if she’s the babysitter. People don’t gasp in surprise when they see me with three kids and I explain that they’re all mine. I kinda just look like a mom-ish sort of person in her 30s (exactly what I am). And while that’s fine. MORE than fine. It takes some getting used to.
Moving from the “just graduated from college” phase into the “real adult (with kids spicing things up)” stage is an adjustment. I found my first grey hair this year. I’m just aging like a normal human. Even though I basically skipped my 20s (when you get married at 20 and pregnant at 22, you grow up fast), and have been doing some serious adulting for over a decade, entering my 30s did make me feel a little bit….weird.
So I’m letting myself feel a little weird about it. And I’m also letting myself feel a little awesome about it. There’s so many things I can DO now that I would never have imagined I would be capable of doing 10 years ago. I have become someone I would never imagined I could be 10 years ago.
Here’s some things I’m proud of doing during the past decade (in no particular order):
- Getting through three pregnancies with severe morning sickness.
- Learning how to take care of a child with asthma (Benjamin) and getting it under control.
- Writing for a living (would never have imagined it!)
- Reading my favorite childhood books with my own children.
- Buying a house, selling a house, and buying another house.
- Going on a 6.5 week road trip around the country with 3 young kids.
- Driving a lot–even on scary highways, even by myself. (I had mild driving anxiety that turned into pretty major driving anxiety after I was in a bad accident a couple years back–panic attacks and all that fun stuff).
- Packing up our whole life and moving across the country with a toddler to go to grad school in FL.
- Packing up our whole life with three kids and moving across the country to live on a farm.
- Packing up our whole life again and moving to our own little urban farm.
- Learning to milk goats.
- Becoming Catholic.
- Learning to stay on top of my autoimmune disease with alternative medicine.
- Celebrating our 10th anniversary (AKA surviving 10 years of marriage)
- Becoming an OK cook (what’s the point in becoming a fantastic cook when your husband will always be better at it? But for real, my Shepherd’s Pie is legit.)
- Learning to maintain a home for five people, laundry, drs appointments, dentist appointments, dishes, floors, tidying, decluttering, deep cleaning, bill paying…..so many things.
- Homeschooling three kids and figuring out what educational style jives with our family.
- Working on upping my patience and controlling my temper (working on because I’ve come a long way, but I still have a ways to go).
- Sharing my love for good books (blogging about literature, teaching literature to the high schoolers at our homeschool co-op, etc).
- Having a podcast (but for real, I couldn’t have done it OR kept it going without Christy leading the charge and being awesome).
- Working a variety of pretty cool jobs: teacher for a non-profit, instructor and rehearsal assistant for a ballet studio, publications specialist at a university, barista/shop girl at a French pastry shop, and a self-employed writer/blogger/speaker.
- Figuring out I wanted to leave academia.
- Learning how to use Natural Family Planning.
- Speaking in front of large groups (and small groups.)
- Learning to camp with small children, stay in hotels with small children, and basically all the insanity that is traveling with small children.
- Becoming really good at entertaining toddlers at restaurants until their food arrives.
- Surviving a year in a 650 sqft apartment with small children and no flushing toilet.
At 31, I’m surprised at where I am. It’s been a REALLY full decade. At 21 I would never have imagined that in a decade I’d already have three kids or that I’d have been Catholic for 6 years. I would never have imagined I’d be a writer and a speaker (not in a million years!). I would NEVER have guessed that we’d move back to Waco or how much I’d fall in love with this town.
I would have expected to be finishing my PhD in medieval studies somewhere and beginning to think about starting a family. But God’s plan for me was a much better fit (and a lot more exciting) than anything I could have imagined for myself.
The past decade has been jampacked with adventure. And while I wouldn’t mind a super boring couple of years to recover from it, it’s been amazing. I like who I am now so much better than me at 21.
Motherhood has softened me. I am more compassionate and more secure. I love my husband more. I treasure moments with my kids more.
My health issues have made me slow down. I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I can’t drink coffee and run on fumes anymore. I have to consider carefully what I eat and whether it’s going to help me or set me back. I don’t move frantically from thing to thing anymore because I just can’t.
Life has strengthened me. I feel empowered by becoming a mother. Nothing in my life has been so difficult as pregnancy for me. I’ve loved my births and newborns and toddlers and big kids. I love knowing they’re in the world bringing joy and wonder. I’ve survived kids with stomach bugs and respiratory infections and asthma attacks and hospitalizations. We’ve dealt with a lot of vomit on road trips. We’ve had such little sleep so many nights in a row. At times, we’ve been stretched so thin and love is the only thing holding us together.
I feel so much wiser than I was a decade ago with so much to learn and so many more adventures to have. That grey hair I found this year? I’ve totally earned it. Here’s to more grey hairs, adventures, and wisdom in the decade to come.