Sunday, April 30, 2017

Thoughts on Turning 30

I turned 30 three weeks after Deidre was born. For many people, 30 is a big deal. It's when you start feeling more like a "real grown up" and less like a young, carefree "pretend grown up." Most millenials spend their 20's having fun, establishing careers, discovering who they are, and so on. This is the decade you're supposed to be out partying with your friends and not worrying too much about the future or being burdened by big responsibilities.

I never fit into that category of the "typical" millenial. I couldn't wait to grow up, move out of the house, graduate college, get married, and have babies. Ryan and I started dating when we were 17. A year later he gave me a promise ring and we told our parents we wanted to get married, eventually. Of course they didn't take us seriously - what 18 year old ends up marrying their high school sweetheart these days? But we knew. So we went to college, had some fun, but stayed together and committed. He proposed the summer before our senior year and we got married a few months after graduation when we were 22. I remember feeling done with the party scene early on in college. I just wanted to grow up, get married, and have babies. Oh, how I wanted those babies!

Ryan and I at 20

In college I even jokingly referred to my hormonal birth control as "happiness prevention." I knew it wasn't a good time to get pregnant but if it had happened despite birth control I would have been overjoyed. I was quite the anomaly of my generation and wanted to start trying for a baby only six months after getting married. This was common knowledge about me. In fact, Audrey and I were watching my wedding video recently and in my maid of honor's speech she talked about how "Stacey has wanted to be a mom since I've known her, so here is a few dollars to start your kids' college fund. She wants a lot of kids, so you'll need it!"

Well, we all know how that turned out. 2 years of waiting, countless hours of heartache and desperation, hundreds of dollars spent before being blessed with Audrey. Not the typical ending for a healthy young couple in their 20's.

And this brings me to my point. For most people their 20's are a super fun, amazing time. For me they were a very difficult decade filled with heartache and hardship, although mixed with the wonderful blessings of two babies.

I sometimes wish I could go back in time and warn my former, very young and naive self: hey this is going to be really hard. You are in for quite an epic journey. And not only for this baby, but for the next baby. And the in between time will be so difficult too: your first baby will be very ill for months and you won't know why. And your husband will be getting his master's degree for 3 years which will be so stressful and difficult on everyone in the family. The years ahead are going to rip you apart and you'll question everything: life, your faith in God, your relationship with your husband. But you will come out the other side and be a new, stronger person. You will discover that you can do hard things. You will learn to depend on others. You will learn, truly, about the fragility of life and not ever take your children for granted. Ultimately, these experiences will make you a better mother, wife, and human being. Just like in birth, the journey is as important and essential as the destination.

Would I have still wanted to grow up so fast and have babies so young? Yes, I think so. The pull of my birth and my babies was so strong, and even now I already feel the pull of my future babies. When you've found your vocation it's not easy to push that aside and wait in order to experience life as society says you should. But when I look back at pictures of myself, I do feel sad for the young girl who had no clue what difficult journey lie ahead, and who was not at all prepared for so much so young.

I was relieved to put my 20's behind me. And although I know you can't escape all suffering in life, I do hope my 30's will have less hardships of such magnitude. But when life inevitably brings difficulties, I will look back and remember that I can do it.

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