Yesterday, I turned 30.
I wrote a long, meandering, overly-philosophical post about Life and Love and Where I Am At This Point versus Where I Thought I’d Be.
And it’s not bad, that post. It’s full of hope and reflection and features shout-outs to my husband and loving family, wonderful friends and darling baby son.
But it was missing something. Something real.
Though Oliver is sleeping a bit more all the time, exhaustion still steals so much of my creativity. Even when I have a moment to sit and write here, my favorite space, it’s like my brain misfires and words become jumbled. I’m still reading and writing for work, where I’m paid to not suck and meet deadlines, but all of my extra energy goes toward caring for Ollie before and after getting home. And things like feeding my husband and me . . . you know, as time allows.
So as my thirtieth birthday rushed up to greet me, I started thinking — weeks ahead, actually — of what I might like to say to mark the occasion. There isn’t much I haven’t documented here, and I wanted to write a big ol’ important post to remember what I was thinking on July 18, 2015.
But mostly I was thinking . . . zzzNAPzzz chips more coffee please.
Now that I’m caffeinated and have a napping infant finally settled in his swinging chair, I can reflect. I can process.
Over the last three decades of life, I’ve learned what I like and what I do not. What I will stand for and what I will not. My 20-year-old self would have been far too timid, too nervous, too insanely anxious to tackle any of the things my 30-year-old self deals with regularly . . . and though I know I talk about it constantly, having a baby — especially a premature baby — has completely changed my perspective on everything. Especially what matters.
So what matters?
Being there for people when and how you say you will. Keeping your word. Making time to look up at a night sky and hold hands with someone you love. Drinking good coffee. Getting outside your county, state or country to see and appreciate the vastness and beauty of the world around us.
Eating good — and good for you — food. Dressing in a way that makes you feel powerful and comfortable and strong. Listening. Putting thoughts behind actions. Celebrating the holidays — especially the ones you create yourself. Cheering for small victories and large ones. Recognizing when someone needs a hand and offering it, expecting nothing in return.
Carving out time for small indulgences. Watching movies that remind you of the goodness of humanity. Playing favorite songs loud enough to wake the neighbors (at a reasonable hour, of course). Visiting the ocean. Occasionally painting your nails. Remembering that the “flaws” that seem so obvious will be invisible to those that love you.
At 30, I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Though I’ve been out of college for eight years (!), I’ve never stopped being a student. I love talking to others, absorbing their stories, churning out my own. Like all readers, I constantly seek powerful books that make me think and feel and want to help.
I’m incredibly grateful for the friends I’ve made — at work, at school, through this blog — and the fact that, at some point, I started letting people in. That sounds silly, doesn’t it: letting people in? Cheesy, maybe. Slightly embarrassing. But the truth is that, for years in my mid-twenties, I felt a little detached and adrift. Then I met my husband and stopped pretending like I didn’t want — need — friendship, and everything changed. Everything got better.
At 30, I love my family more than ever. Sometimes I sit back in awe of the little tribe around me, and I appreciate what it means to be loyal and devoted to others. Relationships — romantic and familial — take work, and I try hard not to take any of them for granted. I often look at Spencer and think, There is my partner. Seeing my husband tenderly hold our son never gets old.
When we needed our tribe in April, they were there. And in life, that’s what matters.
In this next decade of life, I look forward to building our little family up and making our home even homier. I hope to see the world with Spence and Oliver at my side and listen to more of my loved ones’ stories. At my next milestone birthday, Ollie will be 10 — and I hope to be his staunchest supporter and cheering section. I hope, more than anything, to be a wonderfully fun and compassionate and loving mother.
I look forward to eating ice cream, scribbling stories, finding a dress that really makes me feel fabulous. Walking through Paris and watching the leaves turn color. Making scones and sharing them with friends both new and old.
I’m open to it. To all of it.
Just after my next iced coffee.