Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three oh!

As of today, I am in my 30s.

Early 30s.

I'm 30.

The thought of starting this new decade has never intimidated or depressed me. I remember back when I was 21 years old, a senior in college and planning the next 9 years of my life. (Being a woman, I am genetically obligated to do this, you understand.) With a ring already on my finger, I knew I'd be marrying my beloved at 22. We'd move to Colorado, as I had wanted to do since I was 16, then I'd spend four years establishing my career. At 26, I'd have my first child, and at 28, I'd have my second. By my 30th birthday, I would be secure in my profession with a full family; settled. The hard part would be over, and I could enjoy the fruits of my labor for the next 10 years and beyond. Because it's that simple, right?

Despite my conviction that good planning and hard work would ensure this path, we quickly detoured. Colorado was not in the cards -- we fell short and landed in St. Louis for DH's new job. After receiving an insulting job offer myself (less money than I made babysitting, and less appealing than cleaning spit-up off my shirt) I finally had to face that fact that I absolutely hated my chosen profession. At 23, I was certain that I would never have a fulfilling career, and to make matters worse, I was isolated in an apartment all day without a single snow-capped mountain in sight.

After swallowing my pride (and my $120,000 degree) I took a temp job, which surprisingly turned out to be one of the luckiest decisions of my life. Through a fortunate chain of events stemming from that placement, I ended up doing what I swore I never would -- going back to school. And I loved it. I had *finally* found my passion in mental health counseling. So instead of establishing my career, I spent 3 years working full time and going to school in the evening to earn my graduate degree. DH was doing the same thing, and it was not an easy balance. Weekends were filled with homework and basic survival tasks instead of relaxing and building friendships.

Then it came time to have that baby...

...and, well, you know how that went.

Bad. Horrible. A nightmare.

Those two years of hoping and heartache, tests and surgery, treatments and tears left us completely drained as human beings.

And pregnant.

I was finally ready to settle into life in St. Louis when DH got the offer to transfer to Seattle. Expensive, rainy, backward-voting, barely-still-on-the-continent Seattle. Over my dead body was my first thought. This was not the time for a major change, with a baby on the way and my career finally gaining some ground. I commented dryly to a friend, "Yeah, DH might be moving, but I'm staying here."

But alas, I am both still alive and living in Seattle.

Like the years before it, the last two of my 20s were both more challenging and more blessed than I could have imagined. It was unspeakably difficult for me to become a new mom while living 2200 miles from my friends and family, but I was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with Seattle despite it all. My years spent working as a relocation consultant during grad school paid off, and I quickly joined my local LLL group, the MOMS Club, and a co-op preschool to put down roots. And again, lucky me -- they grew into beautiful friendships.

Then a chemical pregnancy, a brief foray into secondary infertility, and the mixed blessing of a twin pregnancy that has turned our lives upside down.

Laying here on the couch in fear of preterm labor, not eating a gigantic cookie cake, feeling the twins tumble energetically around in my huge belly as my son drives his cars over it, and worried about how we will survive having three children in two years, I am saying goodbye to my 20s in a way truly befitting the decade -- feeling better and worse than I expected all those years ago.

But mostly better. Sure, I feel a bit sorry for myself that I have to make so many sacrifices to have family. I really wanted to celebrate the beginning of my 30s on a date night with my husband, and perhaps getting mani/pedis with some friends. I currently have no more career than the teenager dressed as the Statue of Liberty on the street corner, waving a sign that advertises tax preparation services. And have I mentioned that cookie cake?

However, my 20s has changed me in so many positive ways, and the blessings far outweigh any temporary discomfort. I discovered how strong I can be when I need to be, how strong my husband and I are as a team. I discovered how utterly amazing it is to be a mother. I discovered that when my parents say they will always be there for me, they truly mean it. I discovered that sometimes it takes a village to raise a pregnant woman, and friendships are worth their weight in gold. I discovered that while plans are usually a good idea, it pays to be flexible, because sometimes it is exactly when those plans go awry that you really find happiness.

Here's to the next decade: my 30s. I'm ready.



K said...

Oooh I get to be the first commenter to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Beautiful reflections, particularly liked that you find yourself "feeling better and worse than I expected all those years ago."

Life has a funny way of showing how it wants to go despite the best laid out road maps. For me my 30's is about following the road and not getting stuck on whether I'm in the driver's seat making the decisions.

Hope your 30s are beautiful!

Michele said...

Amen sister. I'm a planner by nature too and my 20s didnt go exactly as planned. Grateful for them, yes, but not my plan. I'm hoping the 30 decade is a tad smoother!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Sunny! I hope you have a fabulous day and that the 30s treat you well.

I'm a planner, too, though I never admit it out loud, but I think about the things I'll do and when they'll happen and all of that. Ask me about my 3 month stint in Antarctica sometime around 2020.

Kymberli said...

This is such a beautifully reflective post. When I crossed over into the 30's I wasn't even partly this reflective. If anything, it felt like kind of a release because even when I was in my 20's, I seemed to feel like I was already in my 30's. 30 felt like home.

My birthday is today, too. :) I'm 32 now.

Happy birthday, Sunny!

Kristina P. said...

Happy birthday! I have to say, I loved turning 30. Wish I could stay there forever.

Lavender Luz said...

Happy birthday, Sunny!

I liked my 30s. It's a time of both physical vitality and wisdom. I hope they are very, very good to you :-).

E said...

Aww, happy birthday!!

Lovely post. It's true, we don't know where life is going to lead us.

Out of curiosity are your twin boys fraternal or identical? I am always curious being a fraternal twin myself.

This will be my second son. We always have my nephew around too. So, boys are good ;) They are fun in ways that I guess girls aren't. Hehe. No doing hair and makeup and stuff like that.

Kate said...

Happy Birthday, Sunny!! Welcome to 30! You have had an incredible past 10 years that have been filled with so many blessings and surprises! Many more await you in the next 10 (and hopefully a lot of cookie cakes too!).

Lollipop Goldstein said...

It is crazy about how different and wonderful life can be from what you planned. Happy birthday!

andrea said...

happy birthday!!

you're post really gives truth to the meaning "everything happens for a reason"

and, it gives me comfort because you're story is earily similar to mine... minus the moving across the country part.

may this year be the best one yet

Banshee said...

Happy Birthday!

And congratulations! You made it out of your 20's alive...and happy. :) (from the sounds of it)

There will be time for the cookie cake...but hopefully not until April!

AFD said...

Happy Birthday my dear friend! I am going to buy you the biggest cookie cake available in July. Maybe I'll help you eat it. I think your first degree was well worth it because I get to read your fabulous writing weekly. Love you!

Red said...

Happy Birthday!! 30 doesn't sound old to me anymore. ;)

I'll be there at the end of the year too.

Alisa said...

Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday. Happy, Happy Birthday to you!
The famous Disney World version of Happy Birthday, of course.
Have a great new decade!

lisawitt said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 30 weeks and turning 30...what a big week! I had forgotten that you and my Z Man share the same birthday too! Hope you enjoyed the day as best as you could sans cookie cake and on the couch...and here is to the next 30 years!! :)

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Lovely post... a great way to mark the entry into a new decade. A very happy birthday to you!

Birthdays are always times of reflection. For better or worse, when my birthday rolls around I find myself comparing my life with my biological mom's life. When she was 35 where was she? Divorced for the second time, with an 18 year old, a 15 year old, and a 13 year old. (Hmmmm... can I picture myself there? No!) Our lives never go as planned, but those deviations from the plan make life interesting, I think.

Sorry for the rambling comment...

Shelley said...

Happy Birthday! Life hardly ever turns out as planned, but that's okay, because you have a pretty great one. Hope you enjoyed your day!

Coffeegrl said...

Happy birthday to you!!! It's so refreshing to hear someone really celebrating their birthday and the ways in which they've grown (it's not all about aging!). You are very fortunate to have so much to be thankful for and I'm sure that many are envious of you. Best of luck in this next wonderful year!

IF Optimist, then... said...

Happy birthday Sunny! So glad that you are holding in there despite all of the frustrations of bedrest and not being able to eat ginormous cookies. You'll just have to make up for it on #31. I loved the image of Bean driving cars up your bumping belly.

Stephanie Faris said...

I know everyone says this, but I really mean it. My 30s were the BEST years of my life. I'm 39, looking at 40 and I can honestly say I never had as much fun or was as self-confident or knew who I was until I reached my 30s.

Oh...and I have an award for you on my blog today!

Andrea and Isaac said...

Happy Birthday Sunny! What a beautiful post to sum up your 20's. You've been thrown so many curves, but you are handling it with so much grace (and humor). You're inspiring, and I'm praying that your family of 5 thrives and can celebrate your 31st birthday in a BIG way!

Pufferfish said...

OK, I won't lie to you. My actual 30th birthday sucked probably more than any other birthday I can recall.
HOWEVER, the 30's were the best! You are going to enter a whole new phase in life and it's going to be great.
Keep doing what your doing-those babies are thriving in there!
Happy Birthday!

Michelle said...


MissMVK said...

Happy birthday! You're just a pup! I've got a cool four years on you. :)

Jen said...

Bed rest will be over and those healthy boys will be here before you know it. I think your 30's will be great. Hope you had a happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated

Sarah said...

This post really resonates with me. Although not yet 30, having children, a husband, a fledgling career as a result, and a move in the mix, my life hasn't been quite what I thought it would be either. But despite all the struggles and disappointments, you remind us to be thankful for our blessings and hopeful for the future. The one thing I have realized is once family comes around, planning goes out the window! My life plan is off course, but I am thankful for it too, because at 21, I didn't know how great things could be in other areas! That said, I'm still sort of lost as to who I am supposed to be. Who was I, who am I now, and who will I be in the future? I guess that's what the 30s will bring - an identity again? We can hope! Happy Birthday Beautiful!!! Here's to the 30s!!!! Love ya!

jingle said...

Happy 30 Year Old Birthday!
Happy Valentine's Day!

what beautiful discovery u have for being a wife, a daughter, and a mother...

exceptional love!

Martha said...

Beautiful post, Sunny, thank you for this gift of reflection and sharing on your birthday.
Happy, Happy Birthday, dear Sunny.