As of today, I am in my 30s.
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.
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.